Authors: Chris Comber, Tony Lawson
Addresses: School of Education, Leicester University, 21 University Rd, Leicester, LE1 7RF, UK. ' School of Education, Leicester University, 21 University Rd, Leicester, LE1 7RF, UK
Abstract: The rapid development of information and communications technologies (ICT) and the prospect of national educational information networks renders the evaluation of the educational impact of such technologies an urgent priority. While most research has so far focused on the effects on, and views of, teachers and managers concerning the implementation of ICT, this paper examines the experience of learners. Drawing on data from the evaluations of seven exploratory projects, part of the UK Government|s |Education Superhighways| initiative, the paper examines the potential of ICT to enhance the learning experience, and to dissolve boundaries which traditionally separate learners of differing age, ability, gender and status. Competing discourses position the development of ICT as, on the one hand, transformative technologies which will empower learners, enabling greater control over their own learning, or on the other, as controlling systems whereby learners will be obliged to engage in routinised operations. The evidence presented here generally supports the optimistic discourse, indicating that ICT has the potential to radically transform the learning experience. Except for the most advanced schools, however, explorations of such technologies are still at an exploratory stage, and further systematic research is called for to identify the most successful strategies for their effective integration.
Keywords: information technology; communications technology; ICT; information superhighway; Education Superhighways Initiative; empowerment; learning; UK; United Kingdom; educational information networks; learner experiences.
International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning, 1998 Vol.8 No.1/2, pp.170 - 183
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