Technology, Education, and the Fetishization of the ‘New’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

In education there is a constant fascination with the “new.” Education, because it is an intrinsically challenging and imperfect practice, is always looking for ways to improve, and this has led to a constant cycle of reform, optimism, disappointment, and then new reform.

This fascination with the new shapes the ways that new digital technologies, and the affordances they provide for rethinking teaching and learning, have been incorporated into the formal institutions of education. Outsized claims for “new and improved” pedagogy have led to hyperbolic boosterism on the one hand, and criticisms about the unfulfilled promise of these new technologies on the other.

In this essay I argue that these errors derive from misunderstandings of what the “new” actually means, and misunderstandings about the nature of technology. New technologies are not in themselves improvements, but at best an opportunity for changed thinking and changed practices that are themselves the source of potential improvement; but these potentials are always also accompanied by the risk of harms and other unintended consequences.

In the end, I conclude that it is the very fetishization of “the new” that constitutes an impediment to actual change for the better.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEducational Research: Discourses of Change and Changes of Discourse
EditorsPaul Smeyers, Marc Depaepe
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Chapter2
Pages9-16
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-30456-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-30455-7
DOIs
StatePublished - May 27 2016

Publication series

NameEducational Research
Volume9

Keywords

  • actual lever
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • light switch
  • educational endeavor
  • unfulfilled promise

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