In my practice-based research, I demonstrate how I am contributing to a knowledge base of practice by creating my ‘living educational theory’ (Whitehead, 1989, 2004). This involves me in systematically researching my practice in order to bring about improvement. The context of my research is in collaboration with participants on the MSc in Computer Applications for Education and MSc in ICT in Education and Training Management at Dublin City University. Coulter and Wiens (2002, p.23) point out that it is crucial that teachers and researchers become better educational judges of practice. I explain how the educational values that emerge in the course of my practice based research become living standards of judgement. These standards and values include a ‘web of betweenness’ (O’Donohue 2003) and a ‘pedagogy of the unique’. ‘Pedagogy of the unique’ is characterized in the recognition that each individual has a particular and different constellation of values that motivate the enquiry and a different context from within which the enquiry is developing. The ‘web of betweenness’ refers to my belief that we learn in relation to each other and how ICT can bring us closer to the meanings of our embodied values.
Objectives of the session
The objectives of my presentation are as follows:
- To communicate the meanings of my embodied values of a web of betweenness and pedagogy of the unique.
- To demonstrate how Information and Communications Technology (ICT ) can make our teaching public through ‘artefacts that capture its richness and complexity’ (Shulman, 2004, p.142).
- To provide evidence of how I am supporting practitioner-researchers to develop their own living standards of judgement from their practice-based research.
Educational and scientific importance
In their review of the literature on pedagogies in higher education, Zukas and Malcolm (2002, p.1) suggest that the new specialism of teaching and learning in higher education has developed without reference to adult education. Neglecting the strongly self-motivated learner has tended to impoverish many current approaches to teaching and learning in higher education. They found little evidence of critical practice in writings on higher education pedagogy. As diverse and more mature types of students enter higher education, it is vital that the traditional role of the educator as one who offers content knowledge is broadened so that teaching is aimed at developing students’ capacity to create their own understandings and insights through participation, negotiation and dialogue. Barnett’s understanding of a ‘higher education’ is one where students are provided with the space to develop their own voice (Barnett, 2000, p.160).
As the full potentiality of human computer interaction is developed there is likely to be a further explosion of the use of multimedia and the ability for people to communicate in more dynamic ways through use of technology. Myers (1996, p.3) points to the emerging technologies that are a result of research in human-computer interaction. These extend from the mouse pointing device, windows, computer applications such as drawing, text editing and spreadsheets and hypertext, and to the new technologies of the future, such as multimedia and 3D, gesture recognition, natural language and collaborative learning technologies. Myers believes that user interfaces will most likely be one of the main 'value-added competitive advantages' of the future, as both hardware and basic software become commodities. We are still witnessing the pursuit of a developmental paradigm whose eventual outcomes can only be guessed at.
By contrast with the evident potentiality and dynamism of the new technology, studies of its impact upon teaching practices in higher education indicate that, as yet, teachers in general are making use of email and web resources but more advanced technologies, such as online learning environments and wireless solutions are only being used to a limited extent. Few in higher education are dealing in a practical manner with the new technology’s central ideas about the handling of knowledge.
An international comparative study on Models of Technology and Change in Higher Education was carried out by the Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies and the Faculty of Educational Science and Technology of the University of Twente in the Netherlands (Collis & van der Wende, 2002). The study found that Institution wide technological structures are now in place. However, rich pedagogical use of the technological infrastructure is still in development. Van Merriënboer et al. (2004, p. 13) point out that the central concept in handling of e-learning currently tends to center upon ‘content’. They regret that forms of e-learning that emphasise the active engagement of learners in rich learning tasks and the active, social construction of knowledge and acquisition of skills are rare. In other words, the potential of the technology to transform the teaching/learning environment is still far from being realised in the institutions of higher education.
It is worthwhile, at this stage, outlining the contribution ICT has offered to the development of my educational knowledge, and in particular, to the development of new standards of educational judgement in educational practice. ICT has been used to complement and support my pedagogy as it unfolds. Some examples in the context of this presentation include: digital video to record my teaching and supervision, online learning environments that have sustained ongoing dialogue among practitioners and myself, desktop videoconferencing that has opened up the classroom environment and provided opportunities to share our knowledge with others. Multimedia and web based artefacts with supporting text provide evidence of how practitioners are developing living standards of judgement through asking, researching and answering the question, ‘How do I improve my practice?’
In creating my ‘pedagogy of the unique’ through a living educational theory approach to research, I provide evidence to show my educational influence in my learning, in the learning of others, and in the education of social formations. The methods I use to validate my claims include:
- Living eeducational theory action research cycles;
- Winter’s (1989) six criteria of rigour;
- Social validation meetings.
Living Educational theory accounts of learning methodology involve expressing concerns when educational values are not lived in practice, imagining a way forward, gathering data, evaluating practice on effectiveness of actions, modifying plans in light of the evaluation.
Winter’s (1989) Six Criteria of Rigour include dialectics, reflexivity, collaborative resource, risk, plurality, theory, practice and transformation.
Habermas’s (1987) Criteria of Validity include four criteria of social validity, i.e. comprehensibility, truth, rightness and authenticity.
In assessing the quality of my practice based research I focus on my embodied values and living standards of judgement.
The following data sources will be used to provide evidence of the standards of judgements used to show learning in the public interest.
- Accounts of my learning as a higher education educator.
- Accounts of the learning of Practitioner-Researcher accounts on the MSc in Computer Applications for Education and MSc in Education and Training Management (ICT) at Dublin City University.
In the context of my ‘pedagogy of the unique’ the dialogic processes reflect my growing openness to learning and relearning with others, and reveal that I believe that education should be a democratic process that gives adequate “space to each participant to contribute to the development of new knowledge, to develop their own voice, to make their own offerings, insights, to engage in their own actions, as well as to create their own products” (Barnett, 2000, p. 161). I believe that I have directed my teaching towards learning by gradually providing opportunities for participants to take responsibility for their own learning and develop their capacity as learners.
My practice based research enquiry has indeed been a collaborative endeavour that could not have taken place were it not for the participation of students in the creation of knowledge in collaboration with me. I have articulated the educational values that have emerged in my practice and I believe that I have endeavoured faithfully to live these values in my practice. My values can now be seen to be communicable standards of judgement. I hope that my enquiry will contribute to new understandings of the link between teaching and research and how teachers can contribute to a knowledge base of practice through use of ICT.
- Barnett, R. (2000). Realizing the University in an age of supercomplexity. The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
- Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Collis, B. & van der Wende, W. (2002). Models of Technology and Change in Higher Education. An international comparative survey on the current and future use of ICT in Higher Education. [Accessed from www.utwente.nl/cheps/documenten/ictrapport.pdf on May, 2005].
- Coulter, D. and Wiens, J. (2002), Educational Judgement: Linking the Actor and the Spectator. Educational Researcher, Vol. 31, No. 4, pp. 15-25.
- Furlong, J. & Oancea, A. (2005). Assessing Quality in Applied and Practice-based Educational Research. A Framework for Discussion [Accessed from http://www.bera.ac.uk/pdfs/Qualitycriteria.pdf on July 4th, 2005)
- Myers, B. A. (1998). A Brief History of Human Computer Interaction Technology. ACM Interactions. Vol. 5, No. 2, (pp. 44-54).
- O’Donohue, J. (2003) Divine Beauty. London, Transworld Publishers.
- RAE (2008). Research Assessment Exercise.Initial decisions by the UK Funding Bodies. Retrieved 1 June, 2005, from http://www.rae.ac.uk/pubs/2004/01/rae0401.doc.
- Shulman, L. (2004). Teaching as Community Property: Essays on Higher Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Whitehead, J. (1989) ‘Creating a living educational theory from questions of the kind, “How do I improve my practice?”’, Cambridge Journal of Education 19(1): 137–153.
- Whitehead, J. (2004) What Counts as Evidence in the Self-studies of Teacher Education Practices? - final draft before publication in Loughran, J. J., Hamilton, M. L., LaBoskey V. K & Russell, T. (eds) (2004) International Handbook of Self-Study of Teaching and Teacher Education Practices. Dordrecht; Kluwer Academic Publishers.
- van Merriënboer, J., Bastiaens, T., & Hoogveld, A. (2004). Interstructional design for Integrated e-learning in Jochems, W., Van Merrienboer, J & Koper, R. Van Merrienboer, (2003). Integrated E-Learning: Implications for Pedagogy, Technology and Organization,. Routledge.
- Winter, R. (1989) Learning from Experience. London, Falmer Press.
- Zukas, M. & Malcolm, J. (2002). Pedagogies for Lifelong Learning: Building Bridges or Building Walls? Chapter 13 in Harrison, R., Reeve, F., Hanson, A. and Clark, J. (2002) Supporting Lifelong Learning. Volume 1: Perspectives on Learning. Routledge. Pp 203-217.
Supporting collaborative or cooperative learning in the online learning environment using structured role-play activities
Recent articles by Maja Pivec and Olga Dziabenko have highlighted the role that structured game-based learning can play in supporting collaborative learning. This area is currently being explored within the European e-learning community through initiatives such as the UNI-GAME project. Similarly, recent action research conducted by CREATE as part of the Minerva-sponsored RAMIE project has examined the part that structured and scenario-based role-play activity can play in promoting collaboration and cooperation between geographically dispersed online learners. This recently completed project work also sought to demonstrate that, in some contexts, role-play, like forms of game-play, can support authentic learning and assessment within the online learning environment.
The RAMIE experience: The use of structured, scenario-based, role-play to develop mentoring skills in the online learning environment
CREATE’s pilot work within the RAMIE project centered on an existent online course, ‘Supporting Employee Development through Mentoring’ delivered through the Suffolk Institute of Technology. This course is delivered wholly online, via a virtual learning environment (WebCT) with tutorial and technical support provided online, or via telephone if necessary. The course seeks to introduce learners to all aspects of the theory and practice of workplace mentoring and is targeted at adult learners who wish to develop mentoring skills for application within the workplace. During the duration of the RAMIE project 62 students from across the eastern region of the United Kingdom were enrolled on the course.
The first section of the mentoring course focuses on the theory of mentoring. Thereafter the course culminates in a final formal assessment task based around the experience of participating in a mentoring role-play exercise, again conducted wholly online. The role-play exercise is designed to provide learners with an authentic experience of mentoring and an opportunity to demonstrate and practice recently acquired theoretical knowledge and skills.
The online role-play is organised by allocating two students, both at a similar point of progress in the course, the roles of mentor and mentee for each other. The role-play activity is conducted anonymously via email, with participants working within prescribed roles and scenarios (names, age, workplace, position, issues and responsibilities). Students assume the role of either a recently recruited or promoted employee, or an established manager (with roles of mentee and mentor respectively) and begin a staged mentoring process with the objective of supporting the new starter in the early stages of their new career.
The online role-play is facilitated and discreetly monitored by tutors and continues until the process of mentoring the newly recruited or promoted employee has achieved a series of specific aims. The principal task of the tutor through this process is to monitor correspondence to ensure authenticity and that learning objectives and outcomes are met. Most pairs of role-playing students conduct the exercise over several weeks, often exchanging considerable correspondence. Feedback from learners indicates that they enjoy and value the experience of online role-play, and feel that it provides an opportunity to develop and express newly acquired skills and knowledge in a realistic, but safe, context.
Findings and observations
Our experience suggests that structured, scenario-based, role-play activities can successfully support collaborative and cooperative learning in the online learning environment. If well designed, they can also support authentic learning and assessment. Furthermore, although some subjects clearly offer richer prospects for the application of role-play scenarios than others, the use of such approaches can also allow for the development and assessment of a wider range of knowledge competencies and skills than would be typical in the case of learners operating online and at a distance from tutors and fellow students. Mentoring and specifically e-mentoring provide a context where, in addition to theoretic knowledge competencies, it is also possible to use the online learning environment, and its collaborative possibilities, to develop and assess soft skills.
The online learning environment can support collaborative or cooperative learning within distance learning communities in ways previously not possible. Nevertheless, the development of collaborative learning opportunities, whether through structured role-play or game-based activities, requires imaginative and detailed planning and skilful management from course developers and teachers respectively. This is particularly true where learning activity is often asynchronous and working partnerships or groups are established among distance learners of differing personalities and potentially varying abilities. ICT Technology can support collaborative learning in ways formerly unthinkable, but as Brian Hudson has recently highlighted, it is ultimately the application of innovative pedagogical practices that determine whether collaborative learning fails or succeeds in the online learning environment.
Dr Harvey Osborne
Centre for Research into the Educational Applications of Telematics (CREATE), Suffolk College, UK.
- Suffolk Institute of Technology
- Maja Pivec - The Benefits of Game-Based Learning – 11 Jul 2005
- UNI-GAME (Minerva Project)
- Brian Hudson - Conditions for achieving communication, interaction and collaboration in e-learning environments - 15 Aug 2005
1D.Johnson, R.Johnson and K.Smith, Active learning: cooperation in the college classroom, (Minnesota, 1998). W.Campbell and K.Smith, (eds.), New Paradigms for College Teaching, (Minnesota, 1997).
In the e-learning business in Finland, there are around 160-170 companies that provide elearning solutions. The total turnover was around 140 million euros and it employed nearly 2000 people in 2003. This does not however reflect the digital learning solution markets as a whole, since the figures of the companies providing only partly elearning solutions, universities and other public institutions are not included. The companies are mainly small.
A part of the companies export and take part in international development projects.
The e-learning markets are mainly between companies and institutions. The business of institutions is developed with the help of digital medias. Big consumer markets are still to come, since they require for example proper distribution chains and changes in the buying behaviour of education.
Typical services in e-learning business sector are personnel, product, customer, partner, distributor and change management training. The benefits of these services are pace, savings in costs and time, the unique context and quality and possibility to multicentralized exchange of expertise and interactive discussion.
According to the latest barometer of Federation of The Finnish Information Industries (8/05) there is an upswing in ICT business and nearly half of the companies expect business to grow in the future. According to this study the employment has continued well and new employees have been hired.
The expectations for the autumn are positive and personnel will be recruited even more.
E-learning in Finnish schools
More and more education which include e-learning is given in Finland.
Upper secondary school can be passed entirely by studying in the internet and in many comprehensive schools e-learning ensures the possibility to study also rare subjects. Different kinds of networks between schools enable producing the contents.
The purpose of the basic education is that the teacher utilises information and communications technologies in his work and is able to guide students to reach the basic level in information and communications technology. This means practical skills in work, skills in data systems, co-operation and interactive skills and understanding data security and ethical issues.
The projects of the Post-comprehensive school education and adult education have created dozens of good development networks. Virtual schools have been networked both regionally and nationally. In the project networks there have been developed solutions for e-learning, searched answers to problems caused by new studying methods and produced services. The technical solutions and infrastructure of the e-learning are in quite good condition except that the number of computers in upper secondary level schools needs to be increased. The context produced in the networks could be utilised more efficiently. The self provided teaching is found cheaper than one bought from the network.
The present context of teachers´ education is more teaching of the pedagogic models and developing teaching methods, not that much teaching of the software anymore.
There is also a lot of self studying material available for education. Education is given to wider group of people, which means all who will need e-learning in their work. In Finland many schools offer studies which lead to graduation including e-learning. Häme Polytechnic launched this autumn as a first institution offers fully virtual education for teachers.
Experts of e-learning are being trained in almost all units offering supportive education such as eOppimaisteri by the University of Joensuu, e-skills by Häme Polytechnic and Ota-e by the Helsinki University of Technology.
Active research of eLearning
There are 52 higher education institutions including 21 universities and 31 polytechnics in Finland. In all of them there are e-learning related development projects. Universities and polytechnics have both built a virtual consortium, which offer virtual studies for the students, but also a lot of information about developing virtual teaching, work of quality and research. Many fields of business are offering possibilities to study and graduate fully or at least partially virtually.
The research focuses on e-learning including media reading, multicultural phenomena, competences of teachers, usability of learning objects, usage of simulations in teaching, controlling practises of smart mobile device, usability of teaching technologies, using common educational material and management of e-learning. The studies result in thesis, articles, conference performances and also international conferences.
The studies have generated many in national and international contacts and there are several international co-operative projects going on.
For example in the University of Helsinki, which is the largest university in Finland, educational environments were used only about 200 students and teachers in 2000. In October 2005 there were around 17000 users. At the same time the supply of educational contexts have grown from less than 200 to 1200.
There is still lack of good contents all the time. Therefore, University of Helsinki is taking part for example in EU eContent programme in EURES project, which aims at creating European multi lingual teaching portal, which is a unique way of producing and delivering materials.
This could be the future
E-learning has become a part of everyday life whereas the meaning of technology has moved backwards. E-learning is one developed procedures in supporting learning and it is available for everyone. The equipment are easily available, they can and will be used creatively and when needed.
Technical environments and equipment belong automatically to the different processes. The electronic web will connect actors, functions and fields of business tightly and in real time.
Tailor-made teaching has increased and modular type learning objects based on individuality or learning trays are everyday life. Increased supply of educational material and connectibility prevent also withdrawal.
E-learning offers a totally new learning culture. It requires breaking down the previous role models, giving up from being tied in place and time and absorbing new models of interactivity. The change should be based on competence of an individual and flexible practises should be offered for the development of individuals.
The key for professional growth is not individual skills but collective skills that offer flexible procedures for individual development. Common data building is power. Organisations focus on right targeting of resources, which includes directing, control of time and priorising issues.
Motivating, good arguments and encouragement and support will ease up the change.
The basis for good reaction for change in organisation is open flow of information and transparency of actions.
The business in the e-learning field will be segmented and focused. E-learning products and services will be integrated more tightly in developing competence in companies in general. Cost efficient and risk free solutions will be underlined in solutions for customers. The market will grow at least the following five years. The business will become global. Alongside the globalisation, companies will operate on genuinely global markets in the far networked global economy. In the pressure of efficiency, the companies are highly specialized and most of their actions are outsourced, but on the other hand, new products and services enabled by technology and networked economy and new concepts of business will give companies chance to find their way to the new markets.
The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre
The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre (NGO) promotes the use of eLearning and digital education solutions in Finnish companies and organisations. The purpose is to develop and increase the skills and knowledge of eLearning in education, teaching and business operations.
The Association is a national meeting point, providing networking links. It helps to create contacts to both, companies, organisations and individuals. The Association co-operates with the best experts and provides up-to-date information about research, development, trends and experiences of eLearning.
The Association works together with several companies, polytechnics, universities and training institutions. It is also a networking organisation for the numerous Finnish eLearning projects and regional clusters.
We provide contact information for international organisations and experts interested in co-operating with Finnish eLearning experts, organisations and projects.
The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre
Tel +358 3 651 5255
Fax: +358 3 621 5200
- Tietoalojen liitto: Suhdannekyselyn tulokset / Elokuu 2005
- Lith P. Digitaalisen median toimialaselvitys 2005, Digitaalisen median, sisältötuotannon ja oppimispalvelujen osaamiskeskuksen julkaisusarja
At first sight blogging, publishing on a weblog, seems merely a way to show one’s own opinions and ideas. What is different in a blog in comparison to traditional home pages on which people share their interests and hobby’s, is that from a communicative perspective a weblog not only transmits information through the internet, but also takes on a receiving role. Many bloggers give their readers the opportunity to respond to the different postings (through a comment and trackback function) and get involved in conversations through a weblog.
The weblog, or blog, is a webpage on which the author publishes pieces with the intention to start conversation. (Wijnia, 2004) This conversation is different from what we know from daily activities. In day-to-day vocabulary having a conversation with someone implies that you are in the same room at the same time. Weblogs are mainly text based and therefore the conversations that take place are a form of asynchronous conversation. People involved in the conversation are not physically in the same room or together at the same time. This means that through blogging you can easily have a conversation with someone from a different continent in a different time zone.
A blog could be a useful tool for learning as well. More and more teachers are experimenting with the use of weblogs with their students. See for instance Barbara Ganley’s blog and the article Blogging as a Dynamic, Transformative Medium in an American Liberal Arts Classroom, or the findings of my own experiment. One of the big advantages of blogs is that students can see what their peers do and thus learn from eachother. Next to that, the interaction between students and between students and teacher is not limited to the face-to-face time that has been scheduled. The weblog is there 24/7 and when creativity flows students (or teachers) can put it ‘out there’, even at 3 in the morning.
During my experiment, some of the students explained that it felt natural to sit behind the computer surfing around, chatting perhaps and check out the blog in between. This points out one of the the biggest challenges the educational system faces in the next few years. Schools are not dealing with the way teenagers learn. They are taught by people that grew up and finished their education before the internet era. Lots of teachers still lack the skills to teach current teenagers in the way they are familiar with and can understand. Loads of information is coming to them via the internet and everything they do is through the screen: the learning, the reading, downloading and listening to music, writing, designing and most importantly: communicating with the world. If for teenagers the screen is their umbilical cord to the world, why is there so little being taught through the screen in schools?
A starting point for discourse
The benefits of blogs and blogging for learning can be regarded from a more theoretical perspective. Looking at the theory of Habermas, we can distinguish three formal world perspectives: the subjective, the objective and inter-subjective perspective. (Kunneman, 1986) Weblogs can be used to express all three world perspectives.
In the subjective perspective, or personal sphere, self-expression is important. Photoblogs are a nice example that are used to quickly and simply share photographs. Digital photography has made this even easier, as digital photographs hardly need to be worked on before publishing. Photoblogs are primarily a form of self-expression but the same channel can be used to share knowledge about photography as well. Another use could be to practice writing in blogs, either expressive, prose or poetry, as well as for business use, to explore and sharpen ideas.
In the objective perspective knowledge sharing is the central issue. Looking at educational opportunities blogs can serve as a place on the internet where students can share their solutions to mathematical problems, for instance. Or the blog can be used as a shared space to link to other sources on the internet.
Finally, in the intersubjective perspective, weblogs serve as a platform for societal debate. Think of getting the public involved in politics or from a learning perspective getting students to discuss certain issues.
When more people start blogging, according to the formal world perspectives of Habermas, it is a logical consequence that networks will form, sometimes globally, around interests and topics. “Habermasian new spaces begin with individuals in ‘pluralistic differentiated civil societies’ who gradually unite in communities of shared interests and understanding. Using democratized access to a new form of mass media –the internet- these individuals engage first in self-expression, then engage each other in debate. In so doing, they begin to form new communities of discourse.” (Froomkin, 2003) The growth of the number of blogs on the internet (estimated at a little under 8 million and doubles every 5 months according to Sifry.com is a good sign that blogging for many people is a sensible way of connecting with others sharing the same interests and ideas, and there are indeed networks forming as a consequence.
The blogosphere does not operate in a vacuum communicatively speaking. Other channels for communication will be used beside the blog, such as e-mail, VoIP (internet telephony) and chat. Weblogs can best be seen as a starting point for discourse, a communication hub. (Wijnia, 2004) The weblog is a fixed marker on the internet that offers readers multiple communication channels to choose from to enter into conversation and participate in or start a discourse. By using multiple communication channels, like chat and VoIP, discussion will grow more intense and social ties will become stronger and thus enhance the learning experience of sharing different world views.
- list of blogs in primary education (Dutch);
- the blog of Banyuls école (French)
- blogging at Hangleton Community Junior School (English)
- the blog of my own experiment in secundary education (Dutch)
- the creative writing class 2005 of Barbara Ganley (English)
- Weblogs from German teachers (with links to class blogs): http://www.gryanzen.de/, http://www.herr-rau.de/wordpress/ (German)
- Teachers experimenting with blogs in higher education: Peter Baumgartner, Sebastian Fiedler.
Froomkin, A.M. (2003). HABERMAS@DISCOURSE.NET: TOWARD A CRITICAL THEORY OF CYBERSPACE. Harvard Law Review, 116 , 749-873. Available at: http://www.law.miami.edu/~froomkin/discourse/ils.pdf
Knneman, H. (1986). De waarheidstrechter: een communicatietheoretisch perspectief op wetenschap en samenleving. Meppel: Boom.
Wijnia, E. (2004). Understanding weblogs: a communicative perspective. In T. Burg (Ed.), BlogTalks 2.0: The European Conference on Weblogs (pp.38-82) Available at: http://elmine.wijnia.com/weblog/archives/wijnia_understandingweblogs.pdf
In recent years, some 70 e-publishing sites have been created in the Brest region, not by journalists, but by motivated citizens who wish to participate. This is an interesting example of the social appropriation of the Internet. This interview sets out the opinion of Michel Briand, the person in charge of the Brest.net programme.
What kinds of portals have been created by citizens?
There is a wide variety. There are sites such as Arts dans la rue (The Arts in the Street) where young people write reports on street performances. The site Brest Ouvert, devoted to ecology, posts some 20 articles a week on-line. You can find a lot of examples on La ronde des sites coopératifs au pays de Brest (The Round-up of Cooperative Sites in the Brest Region).
To what extent can it be said that these are ‘local’ initiatives that only concern a very specific public?
They are by no means marginal issues. To take an example from outside the Brest network: Futura-Sciences is a site that seeks to popularise science, fostered by a student from the National Telecommunications School, the ENST (École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications) One million, five hundred thousand pages of the site are read every month. Just because these texts are published jointly and written for a certain number of people does not make them second-rate pieces of writing.
And how can we make the community into writers?
The starting point is the network that provides 60 public access points to the Internet in Brest, and the 20 or so projects supported every year by the call to submit local projects. The first initiatives that led to the discovery of joint-publication three years ago originated from this network. And so, some 15 people took up the projects the following year. After two years, we had 45 joint-publication sites.
Which tools do you provide for the citizens who are content creators?
There are new publication tools available on the Internet that make it easier, to get published without having a knowledge of computing. One of the main tools is SPIP, système de publication par Internet (Internet Publication System), which is freely distributed on the site Uzine.net. The fact that there is a publication tool available opens up hitherto inaccessible possibilities for expression. However, and this has happened very quickly, the question being asked is no longer how to master the tool, but to dare to write and learn how to write a text that is going to be seen by everybody.
Sometimes, writing isn’t as easy as it seems …
Writing is a learning process that needs guidance. For instance, at first, people used to write ‘Minutes of the Meeting’ as a heading, which is pointless. So we have taught people to try to put keywords in their titles so that they will be of interest to others.
I expect you’ve set up a training programme.
Yes, four monthly workshops alternate training on how to use the publication tool with training in journalistic writing, either at the city hall or in different neighbourhoods. Then there are more specialised workshops with guest lecturers: hypermedia writing, Wikipedia, blogs, copyright and intellectual property etc. The diversity of these workshops makes it possible to have new people constantly available and to expand on collective appropriation.
What was the involvement of Brest City Council in this initiative?
Things take time. But I was struck by how quickly the city council’s district offices agreed to post the reports of council meetings on-line. Previously, they just wrote a text and sent it to the deputy-mayor and a number of individuals. Nowadays, everybody reads what they write (visit the site Participation à Brest (Participation in Brest)). And their writers sign the texts. Their work is recognised and valued by being posted on the Internet.
To what extent does widespread publication on the Internet favour the establishment of a new form of democratic participation?
It represents a change, because we are opening up expression, something seldom found in a culture of local authorities and public services that often leave little room for their inhabitants to have their say. Making what people say interesting also impels them to become involved in city life, thereby reappraising the value of politics. From the very outset, we have had a desire for social appropriation. It seemed to us to be an excellent means whereby people would not be mere consumers, but producers of information as well.
How many people have you been able to involve?
There are maybe 300 writers in the city, out of a population of 200,000. There is still a long way to go.
Michel Briand is deputy-mayor of Brest in charge of citizenship and new technologies, chairman of Créatif, collective of public access networks to the Internet, and treasurer of AVICAM, association of cities for cable television and multimedia.
Ecrit public, publication about writing on the Internet.
Place Public, association facilitating the exchange of experiences among citizens.
Créatif, collective of public access networks to the Internet.
SPIP, Internet publication system.
AVICAM, association of cities for cable television and multimedia.
Infini webhosting, a non-profit web hosting and assistance platform.
Marsouin, laboratory for Internet users in Brittany accessible from ENST Bretagne.
The report “Key Data on Information and Communication Technology in Schools in Europe”, published by Eurydice, has just come out. 35 indicators describes the situation of ICT in the educational systems of thirty countries.
The report “Key Data on Information and Communication Technology in Schools in Europe – 2004 Edition”, submitted on 18 May 2004, was preceded by another report three years ago. What are the main differences you have noted over those three years?
As far as the descriptive information is concerned, which we will call qualitative, we have observed very few changes since 2000 either in terms of initial training of the teachers or integration into the curriculum. One country, Poland, will make initial training of teacher in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) obligatory, and four others – Bulgaria, Rumania, Slovenia and Greece – have added teaching ICT as a completely separate subject. Those are the only two changes to be observed in the official organisation of ICT teaching in Europe.
Does that mean that the situation of ICT in school has hardly changed in the last few years?
We are talking in the report about official recommendations for the teaching of ICT. We do not analyse the evolution of use as such, and it may well have evolved greatly. To return to the official recommendations, the situation has not evolved a great deal, but it was already rich at the time, back in 2000. Many public authorities had already made the integration of ICT into the pupils’ curriculum obligatory. And about half the countries had introduced an obligation to train teachers. Where things have moved and are still moving rapidly is in terms of equipment. However, we cannot compare the two reports because they depend to a large extent on different data. But I can tell you that two of the countries presented as having a low level of equipment – Greece and Portugal – have already improved their rates of equipment in 2004.
Has Europe reached a certain homogeneity in the installation of computers in schools?
Contrary to what one might believe, the computer equipment phase in European schools has not finished, except for the Nordic countries, the UK and some countries of the European Union. In the new member states, and in Portugal and Greece, the computerisation of schools is certainly not complete and it is in those countries where we find the greatest disparity in terms of equipment between schools within the country itself. That computerisation takes place gradually. Many countries which had weak equipment in 2000 have set important goals for improving the situation by 2006. And so it is a little early to say whether they will be reached.
Does the process of computerisation of schools follow the same methodology all over Europe?
It seems that the computerisation of schools is done in two broad stages: first the computerisation of the administration and the teaching staff and then the use of that equipment by the pupils. When the computerisation for the pupils phase is complete – in other words, when a good pupil/computer ratio is achieved – we observe that the pupils have access to a computer not only in the computer rooms but also in the classroom. At the age of 15, the average number of pupils per computer varies between 5 and 20.
Are the ICT used for teaching other subjects or are they considered a whole subject apart?
The official recommendations clearly tend towards use as a tool at the service of other subjects at all levels of education. That approach is shared by all the countries in the Union. The ICT are seldom taught as a separate subject, at least at primary level. In secondary, apart from the use as a tool, the ICT are offered as a complete separate subject.
Do European children use computers regularly?
On average 64% of pupils of 15 say they use computers in school regularly. We observe a more frequent use of computers in secondary than in primary. Generally the ICT are more frequently used when the schools are well equipped. Some countries, like France or Belgium, have relatively good equipment, but still many pupils say they seldom or never use ICT.
For what kinds of activity do the pupils use ICT?
The official recommendations strongly advise the use of software, searching for information and communication on the net. In fact, what pupils of 10 say they do at school corresponds relatively well to the recommendations, except for communication on the net: on average only 1.9% of pupils in primary school say they use computers to communicate. That means that there should be better internet connection equipment because the connection rates are lower than the rate of equipment, even in very well equipped countries.
Is teacher training in ICT obligatory in many countries? How much time is spent on that training?
We see that training teachers in ICT is obligatory in half the countries of the European Union, which show that some countries leave a good deal of freedom to the teachers in deciding whether or not to train in ICT. Moreover, even when training is obligatory, we can observe considerable flexibility and autonomy of training establishments to decide contents and the time to be spent on them.
What are your main conclusions?
We need to reinforce information about teacher training and the type of use of ICT made by teachers. As far as the level of equipment in schools is concerned, we must continue to measure it but we should extend the indicators to far more precise information which goes beyond computers. Too much attention is paid to them and not enough to other tools like digital cameras and printers. It is also a matter of finding out more about the age of the equipment and its power. We also need to know more about the use pupils make of the computer. Other work is being done by the European Commission on these matters. The Eurydice report on ICT in schools in Europe will be published every other year. We shall pay close attention to the different works in progress to enrich the next edition and show the changes that will be taking place in coming years. Complementary information:
The Eurydice information network on education in Europe is one of the strategic pillars created by the European Commission and the member states to provide information and analyses to meet their needs.
Report “Key Data on Information and Communication Technology in Schools in Europe – 2004 Edition”.
It is possible to group the views that guide educationalists and experts when dealing with the integration of ICT and education into three clusters of views. These clusters are far from arbitrary – they reflect three very different starting points and perspectives for viewing the "merger" of ICT and education. The clusters represent three paradigms. We have chosen to call these paradigms, without hiding our biases, the Technocrat, the Reformist, and the Holistic.
1. The Technocratic paradigm:
The Technocratic paradigm characterises those who avoid any discussion about the nature of ICT, its desirability or the extent schooling should or will change as a consequence of the integration of ICT and education. They take the ICT revolution as given, unavoidable and as consisting mainly of necessary instrumental and behaviourist changes ("working with computers or the Internet"), take schools as a given, ignore the issue of the desired or predicted results of the "meeting" between the forces of ICT and education, and refer only to "technocratic aims" as the proportion of students per computer, or the location of computers in schools, or the nature of the connection to the Internet.
2. The Reformist paradigm:
The Reformist paradigm characterises those who see ICT as a tool that can assist in promoting the "right" didactics. The most fashionable buzzwords that are mentioned in this context are: "interdisciplinary", "constructivist" and "collaborative learning". Adherents to this view conceive the ICT revolution as consisting of more than just new instruments and behaviours; they rather see it as encouraging a certain kind of attitude to knowledge and learning that supports constructive leaning (usually without feeling the need to sustain this view - in many cases it is presented as an axiom).
3. The Holistic paradigm:
The Holistic paradigm characterises those that, unlike the educationalists and writers belonging to the previous two paradigms, usually present an explicit set of assertions regarding the socio-cultural situation and the defining impact ICT has on it (cultural approach). They also have an opinion as to the desired values that should guide educational decision making (ideological approach). Not only do they aspire to have comprehensive theories and clear recommendations for the education system, they do not evade discussing the theories of their rivals (unlike the two previous groups). Included in this group are those who start from cultural-ideological approaches. Their attitude is either conservative (e.g. Postman, 1995) or radical and extremely radical (e.g. Aviram & Comay, 2000; Kristmundson et al., 2000).
We call these three clusters of perspectives mind-frames, and the proposed or already-implemented policies they entail towards ICT and education "paradigms" because they differ on fundamental issues. To better understand the opposed views let us take a look below the surface, at the suppositions each of these groups make about the worlds of ICT and education. As we will see, their suppositions about these worlds are different and to a large extent contradictory.
Suppositions underlying the three paradigms
Concerning the world of ICT, the upholders of the three above paradigms give (mostly tacitly) opposed answers to the four following questions concerning the defining nature of the ICT revolution, its predetermined nature, and its ethical value:
· Is the ICT revolution neutral, that is, does not influence our lives, or is it a defining revolution?
· Is the ICT revolution predetermined or can we influence it?
· Can the ICT revolution be judged ethically?
· If so, is it good or bad?
What are the views of the three emerging paradigms regarding the four above questions?
1. The Technocratic paradigm: ICT as technological "progress"
The Technocratic paradigm is implicitly neutralist. Basically, Technocrats do not treat seriously what other take to be defining influences of the ICT revolution (i.e., the way it is redefining major aspects of our lives), and do not take ICT to have far-reaching impact on who we are. Moreover, this paradigm is also implicitly determinist: its members perceive ICT as a "necessary force" the educational system should adapt to, and the sooner the better. They neither imagine that society could, if it so chose, mould ICT according to its needs and values, nor believe that the education system could channel the influences ICT holds in store. To put it simplistically, they buy computers for schools because there are computers to be bought and they are taken to represent "progress" or what is "in" - without further questions or thoughts.
It is reasonable to assume that adherents to this view would give an implicit negative answer to the third question (concerning our ability to ethically judge the ICT revolution), and that their answer would stem both from their determinism and neutralism concerning ICT and their lack of interest in questions of values and about basic educational goals. Thus, Riffel and Levin (1997) conclude from their field study that "technological imperatives (to have the latest, most powerful computers available) overtake unclear educational objectives…the overall educational focus of [’the schools’] efforts remains unclear."
2. The Reformist paradigm: ICT as promoting constructivist didactics
The Reformist paradigm is based on an understanding of some aspect of the defining nature of ICT, and it is therefore non-neutralist. It is also determinist: its adherents don’t think they or anyone else can, or should, have a say concerning the general development of technology. If there is notion of indeterminism in this view it does not lie in its adherents’ understanding of technology’s relationship to culture but rather in the educational use that can be made of it. Many of them seem to believe that since technology is there, schools must learn to do interesting and desirable things with it. They do ask themselves what educational purpose ICT might and should serve; their answer is that ICT can be used to promote the desired (constructivist) didactics.
From the above it follows that they do presuppose positive answers both to the third and fourth questions. Basically, they too perceive novel technologies to be "advancements", and therefore place an ethical judgement on ICT. Moreover, they find that ICT exerts a positive influence, since it encourages constructivist tendencies, or may potentially do so. This viewpoint underlies the question posed by the editors of the SITES project report in the concluding chapter - "Is our education measuring up with regard to its innovative potential?" (Pelgrum & Anderson, 1999)
3. The Holistic paradigm: ICT as redefining our culture and lives
The third paradigm, the Holistic, is actually defined according to its non-Neutrality, as its upholders treat ICT as a major defining force of culture. Its view is basically indeterminist, although different holists might hold different kinds of indeterminism. Postman (1995) believes it is impossible to preserve the good parts of "American cultural institutions and heritage" while allowing uncontrolled technological development, and advocates serious discussion regarding the advantages and disadvantages of technology and the way it changes our perception of the world. Aviram & Comay (2000) strive to form "strategies for channelling the inevitable [ICT] revolution in socially and humanely beneficial directions" (italics in the original). One can say that these are two different kinds of indeterminism: strong indeterminism in Postman’s case – since his appeal for social discussion on the fundamentals of the ICT revolution is implicitly based on the supposition that society could change those fundamentals; and soft indeterminism in Aviram and Comay’s case – since here it is assumed that the mere fundamentals are given, but it is possible to channel the processes based on them.
Obviously, authors in this group do not evade discussion of what the desired values of education are. They then judge the ICT revolution in regard to these values - answering the third question positively. As to their judgement, they vary from neutral to negative and positive. Thus, Hermant de Callatay (2000) states that "Technology will have to serve the educational purpose. It should not be the other way around"(- a rather neural judgement). Postman believes ICT is harmful due to its influence on culture at large (Postman, 1992) and on education); While we believe it to have both positive and negative potentials and that its impact on society and on education depends very much on the way we channel its introduction to education (Aviram, 2000).
The differences between the three groups stand out in Table 5, which summarises their presuppositions and the relationships amongst them.
Will the educational system last in its present shape?
Yes, with some modification of the didactic aspects
No opinion (positive answer implied)
Should the educational system last?
Yes / No(depending on the values of the specific writer)
Yes, with some modifications
No opinion (positive answer implied)
Is the ICT revolution neutral or defining?
Is the ICT revolution predetermined?
Can the ICT revolution be judged ethically?
Is the ICT revolution good?
Yes / No(depending on the values of the specific writer)
No opinion (positive answer implied)
|TABLE 5: Suppositions|
We have described the three general paradigms in the field of ICT and education, and showed that there are substantial differences between the suppositions these paradigms make about the worlds of ICT and education.
The most basic concepts of rationality and science entail that when there are three competing theories in a scientific field, a discussion between their upholders is to be expected. The field of ICT and education is a blatant anomaly when viewed in this light. Essentially, there is no rational discourse between the different views about the introduction of ICT to education. Each of the upholders of the three above paradigms takes a stance, either explicitly or implicitly, but doesn’t seem to be aware of and/or care about the existence of competing theories. Most authors, especially the Technocrats and Reformists, but to some extent the Holists as well, do not have a meta-level perspective on the place of their view within the discourse, which is a cornerstone of rationalistic-scientific conduct (see Aviram & Talmi, unpublished).
The question of the field’s development is not only theoretical, but obviously eminently practical, too. The lack of rational discussion is true not only in regard to the theoretical debate; it is even more evident concerning practice (and how could it be different if practicians don’t have systematic theoretical debate to rely on?). Schools, districts, regions and countries develop and implement ICT products and models of ICT based education, but due to the basic lack of culture of rational discourse and rational development, in too many cases there are no clear threads of ongoing improvement to existing models. As it is, everybody is reinventing the wheel time and time again.
The different implementation policies stemming from the different views have an enormous impact on the future of the educational system and the society at large. Given the history of very ambivalent results (to say the least) in the productive introduction of ICT to education in the last twenty years and the huge investments involved, we cannot afford to continue treating this process in the shallow unmindful manner currently prevalent (we elaborate on this issue in Aviram & Talmi, unpublished). It is vital that we look below the surface of the process of ICT introduction to education, expose the fundaments of the different views that have guided this process until now, and encourage an ongoing rational and critical discussion among them. In order to make well-founded implementation decisions in the field, we must initiate a rational discourse between the different theories and form a model for ICT introduction that reflects the state-of-the-art in the field. HolistsReformistsTechnocratsWill the educational system last in its present shape?NoYes, with some modification of the didactic aspectsNo opinion (positive answer implied)Should the educational system last?Yes / No(depending on the values of the specific writer)Yes, with some modificationsNo opinion (positive answer implied)Is the ICT revolution neutral or defining? DefiningDefiningNeutralIs the ICT revolution predetermined? Non-determinedPredeterminedPredeterminedCan the ICT revolution be judged ethically?YesYesNo opinionIs the ICT revolution good?Yes / No(depending on the values of the specific writer)YesNo opinion (positive answer implied)
|TABLE 5: Suppositions|
Aviram, A. & Talmi, D. (in press). "ICT and Education - The Lacking Discourse", in J. Hernandez and Goodson (eds.) Geographics of Educational Change. London: Kluwer.
Riffel, A. & Levin, B. (1997). Schools Coping with the Impact of Information Technology. Educational Management and Administration, 25(1), 51-64.
Pelgrum, W. J. & Anderson, R. E. (Eds.). (1999). ICT and the Emerging Paradigm for Lifelong Learning: A Worldwide Educational Assessment of Infrastructure, Goals and Practices. Enschede, The Netherlands: Printpartners Ipskamp.
The computer in a nursery environment is also often one of the few areas that an autistic child may not object to sharing either the activity itself, or the space around it. There are also often opportunities to focus a child’s learning through the use of particular types of software such as software that introduces the notion of counting or sequences and thereby also introducing the notion of cause and effect.
Children in the main are not as computer phobic as a lot of adults, it therefore is much more advantageous for those children who initially require a large degree of support to be introduced to the computer and software, by an adult who can find their way around the programme. This will save the adult and the child a great deal of time and a great deal of frustration. Once the child has become familiar with both the computer and the software they are able to use the environment without a great deal of adult support and in fact help adults who are not computer literate to navigate through the software.
Although all of the above can be true for autistic children it is also evident in the early years environment that those with speech and language difficulties can also benefit from the use of ICT. These children again are often the most adept at the use of the computer and it is encouraging to see how often children who have difficulties with communication can become so excited and animated by the achievements that the computer gives them. This often gives these children much more self-confidence and self worth and they are often valued by their peers for their ability. I have observed this happening with children as young as two and three years old.
Similarly children who may not be as intellectually able as their peers can again at an early age use computers to build their self esteem and to give them learning opportunities. Particular types of software again with one, two or three word sentences can also encourage speech and language using again the opportunity for repetition and a feeling of success.
There are opportunities for children to increase their hand-eye co-ordination, an opportunity to identify colours, matching, sorting, grouping and to take advantage of the ability to achieve an outcome or if one tires of it, to press escape.
It has been estimated that the 17th Century man received as much information in his lifetime as is packed into a single Sunday edition of the New York Times. This illustrates a dilemma we have in education today: we need to learn and to absorb vastly more information, but our brains are not growing any larger. Moreover, in addition to the "classical" subjects we used to emphasize in schools, modern students need to spend additional time to learn tools necessary for living effectively in today’s society. Our grandparents were able to be educated once -- in elementary school – and that was sufficient for them to be literate all their lives; students of today must learn increasing amounts each year to remain fully literate and to be able to function in society (e.g., after a new software release they may not be able to log in to bank account, fill in an online tax declaration etc.) Thus, the Information Age makes us learn whole categories of information we never imagined even 20 years ago. There is much less time for so called "classical subjects" in schools. We need to rethink educational system and move from a fact-based model to skill-based educational model.
What Learning was/is in the ‘paper era’
In the “paper era” the educated person was the one who knew a lot.
The educational process was/is a matter of consuming information, which was given to learners in a predetermined sequence. The learner had/has a source (validated, certified, approved) in a form of a book and was expected to acquire data. The primary role of the teacher was/is to be a second information carrier, functioning in a partnership with books.
Educational publishers of the "paper age" provide students’ and teachers’ resources, which are "written in stone". Learners accommodate themselves to the study material. For largely technical reasons (it is hard to change the content already printed on the paper) modifying the learning material is a major effort, which few could afford. Moreover, the educational content is subject to copyright law, which forbids changes in original content.
What Learning will be...
The Information Age is different. It is no longer possible for any individual to know everything. The educated person is, instead, the one who knows where to find correct answers quickly. So 10 “fools” who possess outstanding information sources and communication and information sharing skills can do far better in the future than 10 "fact based" geniuses who work separately in their closed cabinets.
Learning is about creating our very own unique understanding of the world we live in. There will still be a traditional educational process and state requirements, because one needs basic facts as a platform on which to build the understanding of the world. However the main focus is learning to learn, to refine critical thinking skills, and on the ability to obtain data, process it, share it, do collaborative work etc.
Schools in the future will be learning environments, where the learning experience is student centered and creative, but also systematic. Flexibility and creativity will be the keys for future learning. Teachers will always be in the classroom to perform facilitative roles. It is also possible to deliver information over the Internet to kids and teach kids even the fundamentals (e.g. 2+2=4), but teacher’s role will be to acquaint students with human component of the life and to teach students nuanced, context-appropriate knowledge. The student’s spiritual development, psychological balance etc. will always benefit from the human touch and from detailed knowledge of the background of each learner. The role of the teacher will be to be responsible for students’ teamwork. The line between the teacher and the learner will blur (the “teacher” becomes the “learner” who is responsible in the classroom). Many services, which support learning, will come from outside the classroom.
Educational publishing - perfect service instead of perfect product (schoolbooks)
The educational publishers who used to sell books/worksheets to schools will become more like information brokers and community management facilitators. Their roles will be to help learners (teachers/pupils) to construct their knowledge as virtual teacher assistants.
Basic educational content will reach the classroom in electronic formats and will be available free, with copyright policies that allow users to modify the original content. This means that learning materials will be more in the form of "drafts" which enable pupils (with the help of teachers and others in their online communities) to write their own books, thus creating their own unique understanding about the world they live in.
During the “paper era” the educational content which reached classrooms had to be perfect and to represent the “final truth” on any topic.
In the future, publishers will endeavor to develop perfect services for learning teams of students and teachers – providing rich and appropriate information and collaborative learning events to enable learners to construct their own knowledge. There will be multiple sources of information instead of one book. Inevitably, these materials will often contain correct and incorrect information. Developing systems which enable learners to access a wide range of information and give them active role in validating and in thinking critically about information will provide a crucial role for educational publishers..
Core questions which need to be worked out fully include safety and security issues which achieve a balance between rich and varied learning environments while warning learners about content which has destructive nature (racism, porn, terrorism propaganda etc.). In addition, new assessment standards will have to be worked out – assessment strategies that focus not so much absorbing factual information as on skill development for finding and assessing information and processing it accordingly.
Learning Folders Net: offering online support for schools
Miksike LearningFolders has worked in Estonia with "Open source" educational publishing and online support for regular schools since 1994. Miksike gives away more than 25 000 worksheets in HTML eWorksheets and offers a variety of collaborative learning services to facilitate learners in constructing their knowledge.
During the January of 2004 Miksike servers in Estonian got 100 000 page views per schooldays. The number of Estonian speaking people is approx. 1 million. Speculating that German-speaking learners use the same server as frequently, this server gets 10 million page views per day.
Miksike Support Center offers organized community settings where students act as information providers, and provides online tests and a range of contests and different online learning activities to engage the learners at every age level.
The "Open source" educational publishing concept is developed further in transEuropean environment through a LearningFolders (LeFo) project supported by Socrates/Minerva.
Partners: Miksike, Estonia; University of Bremen, Germany; Katolska Skolan av Notre Dame, Sweden, Behacker & Partner, Austria, Center for Scientific Visualization, Slovenia; and EGO-Creanet, Italy. University of Brighton, UK does external evaluation.
Please read more about LeFo. You are welcome to test drive our new server (still in development) If you have any further interest, we invite you to communicate with us at email@example.com
Penetration rates of all kinds of ICT are still low in the country but growth rates are high. Having in mind high educational index of the Russian population and the fact that social acceptance of technology by the youth is great there are hopes that the country will soon catch up. The reconfiguration of society caused by ICT is global, and global means not only "all over the world" but "similar" too. Investigation of the global-local nature of the change shows that many universal values and attitudes appear.
Russia enters networked world later than many other countries. The objective of the paper is to give a general picture of the Russian situation and to show that Russian youth has entered the global information society. Sociological surveys show that the first adopters of PCs appeared in the beginning of the 1990-s. In the second half of the 1990-s to have computer became a value in families with children. There appeared a correlation between possession of a home computer and successful adaptation in the labor market.
Internet in Russia started much later than in Europe, in the end of the 1990-s few people knew about Internet. Boom started since the end of 1999 and it goes on. Interest in mobile communication started at the same time. In two years the number of owners of mobile phones grew by 5 times.
Today ICT is fashionable in the country, the number of newspapers, magazines and TV-programs devoted to ICT grows. Like everywhere else, most active users of ICT in Russia are the young. Young people whose parents cannot afford a computer earn money for it using PCs of their friends in the meantime. Even those who have no personal computer have an electronic address and prepare working papers using Internet.
The number of students is an important indicator of information society development. For Russia it comprised 50 people per 1000 population in 2000 and 56 in 2001 which is more or less the same as in USA, Australia and New Zealand.
People who got or are getting education directly in the sphere of ICT comprise only 14% of all people who have higher education. This share is the highest among people of 26-30 years of age. The quality of ICT education in Russia is good, 100% of graduates have employment. During the last 2-3 years the number of institutions which prepare students in the sphere of communication, enlarged. The number of ICT students grows, competition to enter such an institution reached 20 people per one place in 2002. Comparing Russia with other countries of Europe we can see that Russia overtakes Germany, France and Sweden in the number of ICT students but lacks behind the leaders, Finland and Ireland.
Today the share of people who have computer skills comprises one third of population and this share grows: it was 17,5% in 1997. The number of people before 20 using PC is twice as much as the number of 40-45 year olds (49% and 24%) and thrice as much as the number of people of 50-55 years of age (15%).
Unfortunately statistics on ICT usage is very poor in the country. There is practically no statistics on on-line services usage, including elearning.
Qualitative studies show that interest in distant learning is great. We have registered a case of distant learning in 1997: a provincial boy had an Internet connection in his office and he used it to study in Edinburg university. The study of 2002 showed that the majority of students use Internet to find materials for their studies. Getting diplomas via computer learning are still rare. The main reasons for that are the cost of services and the access to Internet. There are practically no free of charge services and commercial e-learning is expensive. Commercial e-learning services are quickly developing all over the country, the possibility to get e-education has appeared.
An increasing interest
Russia lags behind in the number of Internet users. On the average 25-35% of European population and 50-60% of American and Scandinavian population are regular Internet users, and only 8% of Russian population are. All the auditorium of Internet users in Russia is estimated at 20% (there are 16% of regular Internet users in big cities).
Penetration rates are low but the rates of growth are high, the number of Internet users grew by 6,7 times from 1996 till 2001. Age differentiation is very clear. The biggest group of Internet users in Russia are the young people of 25-34 years of age. The number of teenage users grew by 3 times from 1999 to 2001.
Study of one hundred of Moscow students showed that to have PC, Internet connection and a mobile is a "must". ICT is taken for granted, natural and pleasant to deal with. Using mobile and Internet is a way of life for the young, while grown ups use them mostly for working purpose.
International survey of students conducted in 5 countries including Russia in 2002, showed that interest in PCs, Internet and mobile phones does not depend on the place of living, gender and profession, people from different countries proved to have a lot of common free associations connected with ICTs. The fact that regardless of the origin young people have the same attitudes shows that a new global culture is being formed whether we like it or not. The reconfiguration of society caused by ICT is global, and global means not only "all over the world" but "similar" too. Investigation of the global-local nature of the change shows that many universal values and attitudes appear.
Russian youth is ready to enter digital world. In the era of global mobility the young change easily, they often upgrade technology and quickly develop new skills, that is natural for them.
Is age differentiation a danger or an advantage for Russia and for other countries? Emerging new values concerning ICT become universal, are there country specific types of use? Is the pace of change in Russia quicker then in other countries? These and many other questions need further research and cross-cultural investigation.