Opportunities and Threats in Introducing Educational ICT for Cognitive and Personal Development of Students
Modern educational ICT represents a new tool for managing knowledge and learning to influence thinking. Although ICT can provide new opportunities, it can also lead to the discontinuity of previous mental functioning. The relation between tool, object of an activity, its goal and its meaning has been the subject of much research (Vygostski, Engestrom, Rabardel, Cole, Kozulin etc.). This research has helped us understand the possible impact of the current digital education wave.
The presentation will focus on following issues:
Digital education has the potential to become a practical tool in information processing (easy searching, classification, clustering) and in modelling some learning content and settings – and to be much more effective than learning without ICT.
However, the stored information itself doesn´t represent knowledge. Knowledge is a final result of activities from the learner, involving other people as well as everyday and formal (conceptual) cognitive and personality pre-requisites. To give an example: the best use of a foreign language dictionary is that of a man knowing the language well enough to be able to select the information given and to anticipate “what he/she has to seek“. The capacity of anticipation seems to be crucial in the use of ICT as well.
Some applications of ICT in education ignore this difference and tend to present new digital elements as “products” to students, the “process“being eclipsed behind the scenes. This means that the positive role of some algorithms, elementary memory operations, useful errors etc., and their contribution to more complex knowledge activities (task resolution, problem solving, and creative solutions) seem to be ignored.
It appears that the effective use of ICT for learning requires demanding psycho-didactic analysis. From the point of view of the curriculum structure, it is important to consider the subject matter based on the knowledge of cognitive and developmental psychology so as to avoid some pitfalls. For example, conceiving ICT implementation as a playful amusing activity without overcoming the obstacles of the cognitive work necessary for conceptual knowledge, or the ill-conceived use of ICT with regards to age and level of expertise of individual students.
Such analysis has to precede any curricular design reform if we want to speak about a successful digital education era.