Technology, Schools and Families: An
By Reg Fleming and Beverly Pain
SSTA Research Centre Report #96-08: 53 pages, $14.
|Introduction||It seems to be a given that both schools and families are expected to prepare young people for entry into the world of market place work. This market we call the public domain. As well, families are expected to prepare young people for the work carried on in households which supports individuals and families at home. We call this private domain. The role of schools in this latter domain is usually not made explicit. While we acknowledge that schools and families are contextualized in social, political and economic forces, the very context of home and family is often ignored. This research contextualized the study of technology by attempting to include the home and the family. Specifically, this study wanted to determine the views that students, teachers and parents held about the technologies they should be taught about and/or used in schools. As well, the study wished to examine the impact of specific technologies on teachers, teaching, and the home. To explore these issues, we investigated one rural school, an urban elementary/middle years school, and an urban high school. Parents in the rural site were also involved. We found that parents in the rural site were not prepared to lose teachers to technologies such as distance education. They were adamant in advocating the presence of a teacher with their children. As well, they believed that practical skills centered on the home and family were of importance. The teachers in this site wanted computer access to the materials held by Saskatchewan Education and the wide array of resources they believed were available on Web sites. The students felt they were finally being prepared for their future through computer technologies. The concept of computer technology was omnipresent. These students were very articulate in describing how technological innovations had changed their lives. The results from the urban sites were nearly identical to the rural sites. Teachers were concerned about access to materials and they too wanted quick access to the materials held by Saskatchewan Education and Web sites. In short, there appeared to minor differences between rural and urban teachers. The students were quick to mirror their family perspective; namely, they wanted their school to teach them more about the skills needed to support their home and family lives in a technology society.|
|Purpose of the Study|
|Design & Procedure|
|Theme 1: The current concept of schooling should be maintained. Distance educational technologies should not replace this.|
|Theme 2: Students need opportunities for practical hands-on experience with technologies. This includes experiences with technologies used in the home as well as the market place. Familiarity with "computers" (computer chip technology) was seen as particularly important.|
|Theme 3: Students need to be educated not only about the use of technologies, they need to develop an understanding of the potential impact on the quality of our lives.|
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Both schools and families are expected to prepare young people for entry into the public domain; namely. the world of market place work. Families are also expected to prepare young people for the work of the private domain, the work carried on within households to support individuals and families at home. The role of the school in this area is often not made explicit. It is also well known that schools and families do not exist separately from social, political and economic forces; that is, they are contextualized. However, while it is recognized that schools are contextualized and there is recognition given that learning occurs in "alternate environments", the context of home and family is often ignored. It is our contention that not only must schools take responsibility for preparing students for the work of the home and families, they must also recognize that the home and family provide an important alternate environment or context in which learning occurs. If schools are expected to teach about technology and the impact of technology, the context of home and family cannot be ignored. This study focuses on the home and family as a context for the study of technology.
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The promotion of a proactive stance on technology is a part of two curricular areas within the schools in the province of Saskatchewan. These two are the Home Economics and Science-Technology-Society-Environment (STSE) curricula. We are fortunate to live and work in a province in which a Science-Technology-Society-Environment (STSE) emphasis has been legitimated by the provincial department of education. This has created a widespread governmental push for STSE curriculum development. This development was hindered initially by two things. The first was an incomplete perspective on what constitutes technology. Secondly, there was little or no consideration given to family-school interactions and the perspectives that each group held about the role technology could and should play in the education of children.
With the push for "integrative content curricula" in Saskatchewan, much of Home Economics is being subsumed under different umbrellas such as Health or Life Transitions courses. Home Economics is not the only subject area to be targeted. Physical Education and other marginalized areas that have not been considered essential academic courses have been to a great extent left out of the core content areas for schooling. We don't believe that Saskatchewan is unique in marginalizing certain subject areas. It is our belief that we, too, are not alone in recognizing that it is time to re-examine "what is worth knowing" within the context of the lived worlds of today's students and the world of tomorrow.
Home economics education has traditionally examined the role played by technology in the lives of families. STSE curricula offer a second avenue for the study of technology. Some early research findings (Fleming, 1987; Fleming, 1988) had hinted that students may view technology in an artifactual way. In further work Fleming, (1992), explored teachers' views of technology and found that most of the teachers in the study also had a restricted or artifactual view of technology. An artifactual view is one in which people, when asked to discuss the personal, economic, and political issues arising from technology in general, reply by naming a specific artifact such as heart pacemakers, or new farm implements, assuming that naming an artifact is all that is required. We have called this phenomenon artifactual reality. There was no exploration in these earlier studies of the other components of sociotechnology which will be discussed shortly.
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We believe that this is the first time that theoretical models for the family and for technology have found a common ground which could guide research. This common ground is described below.
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The model of family which was utilized in the study was a human ecological model. From this perspective, "a human ecosystem includes human beings existing in interaction with the total environment" (Bubolz, Eichler, & Sontag, 1979, p. 28). This model includes "three conceptually distinct but interrelated environments: Natural, Human Constructed, and Human Behavioural" (p. 29). The Natural environment is "formed by nature with space-time, physical and biological components" (p. 29). "For human survival, such fundamental resources as air, water, space, food and energy supplies, and shelter from extreme temperatures and dangers, human and otherwise are essential" (Andrews, Bubolz, Paolucci, 1980, p. 33). The Human Constructed environment is defined as "an environment altered or created by human beings" (Bubolz, Eichler & Sontag, 1979, p. 29). Humans have altered the natural physical and biological environments and these are referred to as the Sociophysical and Sociobiological components. Examples of such alterations include the development of roadways, manufacture of machines and genetically altered crops. Also included is the Sociocultural component which is comprised of "other social and cultural constructions" (Bubolz, Eichler and Sontag, 1979, p. 29). This includes "constructions such as language, values, norms, social patterns, systems, and institutions, which provide the basis for communication, order, and coordination of human activities" (Andrews, Bubolz & Paolucci, 1980, p. 33).
The Human Behavioural environment also consists of three components: the Biophysical component which consists of people's physical presence and bodily movements, the Social component being interactions with others and the Psychological component consisting of people's thoughts and emotions (Bubolz, Eicher & Sontang, 1979, p. 29).
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The model for technology which has been utilized was a sociotechnology model (Fleming, 1989). Its basic components are represented in the following diagram.
Fleming's sociotechnology model presumes that understanding technology requires an understanding of the interactions between the artifacts or products of technology and their production and use. Such an understanding means understanding sociotechnology. It is the sociotechnology model in conjunction with the family ecosystem model which we used to generate research questions. The "restricted definition of technology", that of "know-how" and "artifacts" (Fleming, 1989, p. 392) fit with the sociophysical and the sociobiological components of the Human Constructed Environment (Bubolz, Eicher, & Sontang, 1979, p. 29). Also included in the Human Constructed Environment is the Sociocultural Component which is comprised of "other social and cultural constructions" (p. 29). This component fits with Fleming's (1979) "Sociocultural System of Manufacture" and the "Sociocultural System of Use" (p. 392), as do the three components of the Human Behavioural Environment.
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This report focuses on the views of teachers, students and families. This orientation was vital to us, for "the important, and often missing, element in overviews of technology is the connection to people" (Wallace, 1989, p. 46). It is Thompson's (1992) contention, that "severed from grounded meaning, art, science, and technology became, over time, abstract terms representing classes of phenomena and/or products divorced from the principles underlying their existence or creation. A simultaneous awareness of process/product relationships provides one with a deeper sense of the human connection to production" (p. 150). Ursula Franklin (1990) points out that "the task of redress requires the reintroduction of people into the technological decision-making process" (p. 127). Unfortunately, the introduction of people into the equation is often done in the guise of people as "experts". When we rely only on experts, we ignore the experience of those who work directly with technologies "day in and day out" (Franklin, 1990, p. 127). This not only disregards these people as "an important source of information" but more importantly according to Franklin there is a possibility that there is an "implicit attempt to keep people from challenging technology by making their direct experience appear marginal and irrelevant" (p. 127). Franklin sees "disenfranchising people as one of the major obstacles to the formation and implementation of public policies that could safeguard the integrity of people and of nature" (p. 127).
Cowan (1987) believes that the people connection can be studied by examining the consumption junction. This is "the place and the time at which the consumer makes choices between competing technologies" (p.263). This perspective embeds the consumer "in a network of social relations that limits and controls the technological choices he or she is capable of making" (p.262). It focuses on technological diffusion, and is the place where technologies begin to reorganize social structures.
We believe that families are major players in the consumption junction and that this needs to be directly addressed through schooling. Unfortunately "we are far behind in teaching about the impact of technology on the family and of the family on technology" (Pain, 1991, p. 6). This is important, for as Arcus (1983) points out, while technology is usually intended to benefit society, the benefits do not flow automatically. Peterat (1988) encourages us to address with our students questions such as "what are the benefits of technology, the significance of it, the impacts and effects on families" (p. 13).
To study this aspect, we must not ignore the content of the home and family. Too often this is seen as insignificant and it is just the market place or "the public domain, the Hermean System" (Thompson, 1988; 1992) which is viewed as important. As Thompson continually points out, the home and family or "the private domain, the Hestian System" must not be ignored.
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This study had three main goals:
1) To examine the views of students, teachers and parents on what technologies they felt should be taught about and/or used in schools.
2) To examine the views held on the impact of certain technologies on teachers and teaching, learners and learning, and the home.
3) To examine how teachers and learners interact with technologies to achieve their desired ends.
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In this study we talked with people in both rural and urban school settings. We were fortunate to be invited to visit a rural site which had just completed an addition containing a computer area, a home economics area, and shop facilities. This site gave us a chance to explore peoples' views "pre- and post-addition". This, to us, was an unexpected bonus. This single site, a K-12 school, allowed us to interview all the students we required.
To conduct our interviews in the urban setting, we required two schools, an elementary school and a secondary school. Following the usual procedures for access to such sites, we were given access to two schools.
Because of small enrolments in the rural school, all five grade eleven students and two grade twelve students were interviewed. As well, six grade seven students were interviewed. Again, because the school was small, we were able to interview all the teachers who taught grade seven and up as well as the principal.
The school principal supported our research project. It was not a problem, then, to organize a meeting with the students' families. The principal was our advocate! Family members were invited to a round-table discussion about technology and education. Thirteen parents attended. The parent's educational backgrounds and occupations were quite varied. They included members of professions, paraprofessions and business (including farming/ranching). They were told they could forego this format and talk to us one on one. However, they all preferred the round-table format.
In the urban setting, we interviewed seven grade seven students in their elementary school. The two grade seven teachers were interviewed, but we were unable to interview families. The secondary school presented more problems. There had been a labour dispute which prevented access to students and teachers. Following the resolution of the dispute, teaching "catch up" time was required. The last thing people had time for was research interviewing. As a result, we were only able to interview six teachers.
In all cases, semi - structured interviews were conducted. These interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. The transcriptions were analysed using constant comparison analysis in order to determine themes arising from the data.
The K-12 school at the rural site was located in southern Saskatchewan. Most of the jobs in the area are in the agricultural sector, specifically grain growing and ranching. The school itself is an integral part of the community. It is without a doubt one of the most welcoming and friendly schools we had ever been in. There is a sense of community and shared pride among all people in the school. This pride was very evident when we were shown the new multi-purpose addition to the school. Funded jointly by two school boards, it contained an industrial arts area, home economics area, and computer area. This addition was a credit to the community's commitment to its school. More specific comments will be given when we discuss our findings.
The urban elementary school was located in a middle class, established neighbourhood. As a result, the students come from middle class backgrounds. This school is clean and inviting. There is an aquarium in the main hallway along with several computers for student use. The principal is a dynamic force in the school. Once again, there was a sense of a school operating as a community.
The urban high school is a large comprehensive high school which draws its student population from an entire city. It offers a huge range of subjects to students including both the traditional academic courses as well as the technical-vocational courses associated with a comprehensive high school.
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We set out to examine three goals which we outlined at the beginning of the report. We found that, in our conversations, the goals were not discussed in isolation one goal from another. Rather than repeat findings we are going to present the results in relation to four themes which emerged from these conversations. A discussion of each theme follows. Rather than overwhelm readers with pages of interview comments, we have attempted to keep the comments to a minimum in the report. The authors do, however, believe that some representative comments must be included. The choice of which ones to include was most difficult and we would be very willing to engage in conversations with any reader who would like any of these themes expanded upon.
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Theme 1: The current concept of schooling should be maintained. Distance educational technologies should not replace this.
Parents in the rural setting from the onset made it very clear that their first priority was to keep their children at home and have them attend schools in their own communities. Students were not going to be sent to another school if a physical move was required. This was not seen as a viable option, even though the parents in this rural setting definitely believed that the urban schools had more to offer:
[Parent]: "There is more available to them in urban schools."
[Parent]: "More in trades, shop, or whatever."
[Parent]: "It comes out at the academic areas too,... I think rural schools do get slighted for the Comp." (Comp. refers to the City Comprehensive High School.)
Distance education opportunities, particularly if moved into the home setting, were definitely not a favoured option. One parent had just completed a professional updating course through televised distance education via satellite and students in a neighbouring school had in the previous term taken Grade 9 French in this manner. The experiences were not viewed positively.
Schools were seen as filling an important role in the socialization of their children. Particularly important were the opportunities to learn "people skills" and the "ability to cooperate with others". Not only did parents believe their children needed this contact with other students, they needed the contact with qualified teachers, teachers who knew their children and could help them learn their school subjects. This was not to be learned via distance educational technologies.
One parent did put forward some arguments in support of the use of distance educational technologies. This parent was a qualified teacher involved in the home schooling of one of her children. The other parents, however, were not in agreement.
[Parent]: You need that interpreter in between. My daughter did some reports by correspondence, they didn't have the satellite, and it took a lot of self-discipline and a lot of hard work on her part and I don't think that all the kids can do that.
[Parent]: And if you don't have anyone to explain it to you and I am not qualified, then where do they go?
[Parent]: Who helps the child if the parents can't help the child, who is the support system for the child?
Students were in general agreement with their parents. They also wanted the human contact.
[Student]: One of the main reasons I like going to school is being with my friends and socializing and just being with people, and I think socializing with friends and learning how to socialize and carry on conversations and be a friend is part of growing up and life and if you just stayed at home and learned from the TV, you wouldn't get any of that.
[Student]: If you were by yourself and learned all the time, you wouldn't learn how to communicate your ideas, it would just be one idea coming to you and you wouldn't be able to express your opinions. Like in class we have great discussions about whether we agree with this, like in class for example, we always have little, I wouldn't say arguments, but discussions about what we think is right and whatever, and we get everybody's opinion, not just one. Too, I think it is important that you go to a classroom to learn.
Teachers were not generally in favour of distance education either. One reason for the non-support was consistent with that one offered by the parents, that of the need for opportunities for socialization. Another reflected the lived world of teachers: "how would you keep a middle years kid just sitting the whole time watching a TV?"
Students concurred. As one student put it "I don't think I would really, it just seems like something boring. Unless there is somebody there saying 'do it', I don't know if I would do it. I don't think a lot of people would".
One teacher expressed interest in using televised distance educational programs as a resource for teaching.
[Teacher]: Let's say there is a course, I don't know, like often teachers come out here and they are expected to teach new courses, like last year... Well wouldn't it be nice if I could tie into a particular show or whatever lesson on the T.V....
Many teachers wanted such resources as Saskatchewan Education's film library, the Stewart Resource Centre and the like available to them electronically. Simply put, they wanted to dial in their request and have the film sent to their classroom. The word "distance" here did not imply great distances. A number of teachers and students wanted to be able to teleconference with neighbouring schools.
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Theme 2: Students need opportunities for practical hands-on experience with technologies. This includes experiences with technologies used in the home as well as the market place. Familiarity with "computers" (computer chip technology) was seen as particularly important.
The need for practical experiences, the hands on the technology approach was seen as a necessary component of the education that all the students received. As one parent said: "I think that you learn more by actually doing the things, like it seems to stay in their memory better."
Parents saw the need for a balanced education for those who wanted to go on to university or into the trades coupled with basic life skills for all students. This combination appeared to be the education of choice. However, the need for practical skills was initially seen as more important in relation to market work in the public sphere than to the work in the home in the private sphere. While talking about the teaching about technologies of the home there were comments such as:
[Parent]: "I think most kids do learn at home, like in our environment here. Maybe not in every environment where both parents are away working and the kids are at home alone. Like a lot of these kids stick the TV dinner in the microwave and it is ready, but in this environment here I think that kids do learn more about home."
[Parent]: "I mean I never thought you'd have needed the school to teach your kids how to cook or..."
[Parent]: "I'm not against Home Ec., don't get me wrong, but I'm just saying these basics should come from the home. You know?"
The conversation then moved into some of the aspects related to home use of technologies which were not necessarily being taught in the home and that were recognized as important. For example, concerns about environmental issues were raised and what their children had been learning about this area. Another example related to fire safety and what students were taught in relation to the use of microwave ovens and what one parent had learned when helping the child review for a test. This led one again into the need as one parent put it for "kind of more practical stuff, once again". This was reinforced by examples of needing to understand how the microwave oven works, for example what happens when you heat baby's milk causing "physical damages to the kids, internally". It is interesting to note that the students were very supportive of having hands on practical experiences as well. In addition they contradicted the parents' statements regarding what they learn about home technologies in their own homes, and felt it was important to learn about these at school.
Teachers were also very supportive of teaching basic living skills.
[Teacher]: Life skills I feel are very important... I want them to have a positive self-esteem, so we want to offer them things that they can be a success at, and that won't always be academic. I've seen it already--some of the kids who weren't succeeding academically are doing well with their hands.
Most teachers argued for a liberal education balanced by the practical arts. The former would focus on decision making and critical thinking. The latter were seen as beneficial to the large number of students who do not attend universities. One secondary school English teacher stated that he would gladly sacrifice a credit unit in English for the sake of the practical and applied arts. Another teacher was concerned that the practical arts curriculum was dictated solely by the needs of business. This teacher wanted to emphasize the processes of technology.
Teachers were also supportive of the teaching of technologies and their use in their school. Examples of technologies and their use were provided.
[Teacher]: And we've got the video cameras that we are using quite a bit. The audio I believe is important too. I think not only having them, but showing them how to use them and what roles they will play on their lives, ie. like we are doing with the video camera now, they are doing newscasts, um, what else are they doing? They are preparing advertisements and knowing what advertisements do, um, new technology, what else, what else? The new technologies in the Home Ec room, all those things are important, how to program a microwave, how to program a VCR, you know, which the kids in a lot of cases are teaching us how to do those things.
The parents were united in wanting their children to have hands-on experience with computers in their school. They believed that this experience was absolutely vital. Many supporting reasons were provided. One parent had a child with a learning disability. This child was not able to write legibly but was able to do assignments with the use of a computer. In addition, the parent felt the computer helped the child learn, as "it kept (the child) centred on it." The parent was frustrated at the time of the interview as the child's computer was not working "so he is kind of just sitting there". Other examples included: keeping up with the changing world; access to information; and maintaining farm records.
In this instance, the support for hands-on experience with computers, students were in agreement with their parents. Why?
[Student]: "Because it is something you get into, because you are going to need it later on in life so." ...
"Because with cattle and farming and it is starting to get higher and higher with the machinery and stuff like that... to keep track of your stuff and to figure how many acres you have and stuff like what you need seeded..."
[Student]: I think it is important to know how to use computers and stuff because everything is going to start being computerized or already is, even cars and stuff.... In the old days if something broke down, it wasn't hard to figure out how to fix it, but now with some little thing and it is all computerized, you have to take it in and I don't know, I guess it is important to know anything about computers. In fact, the dominant response to the question, "What do you think of when you hear the word technology?", was "computers". We will discuss this response in more detail in our concluding remarks.
Teachers also supported parents and students in their desire to learn about computers.
[Teacher]: Oh, well you know right now as I look, I pretty well handle the computers in the school and we've got you know, we've jumped up to this incredible Lab and so on, but I sit there and I'm still using you know tools that are 20 years old, I mean it sounds crazy but I'm still using a basic word processor, still doing with the basics, and yet I know that out there let's say in some schools in the States they can sit there and they've got programs that can basically encompass everything, and I mean they are colourful, they are visual, they help teach kids that maybe auditory or visual or whatever and they cover all the basics. I mean it is nice to have the fundamentals but we seem to never go any further than that for the kids, like I would like to see you know, unfortunately I suppose a lot of times it is because guys like me don't have the time to learn how to use some of these things, but we never get them, like it would be incredible to take some student who is well, the word autistic pops in my mind but that is not what I was thinking about, dyslexic or whatever, and use the best tool at that time for them, even in a small school, like this.
Teachers not only wanted computers incorporated into their learning environment they recognized parents wishes in this regard.
[Teacher]: The parents? They want... well the computer knowledge is the big one.
Some of the parents had previously been in communities in which the schools were perceived as having better facilities which gave their children increased access to technologies in the practical and applied arts area in the secondary schools. Computers were also seen as having been more accessible in other elementary schools. Interestingly, several of the urban secondary teachers reported serious difficulties in gaining access to computers. The computer laboratory image was dominant. That is, computers were placed in special facilities to which access was quite controlled. Urban teachers felt that per capita, rural schools were probably as well equipped. In one urban school, teachers pooled their own funds to purchase a TV/VCR combination. In this same school, students did not have text materials. Money had instead gone into computer technology, whether, in teachers' minds, people knew what to do with it or not.
There was support for sending teachers for training to keep them current in their computer skills. There was also support for the integration of computer use into a learning situation. Parents did not want students just "punching it" for then it would just be "a time filler, like going to the back corner and playing with plasticine."
There was support for computer networking. Parents wanted their school connected to others in the province and with access beyond. Teachers agreed. Parents saw great opportunities for their children as they did research for their projects. One parent was already exploring an "encyclopedia on the disks, because they change so fast you can't keep up with it".
Some parents appeared even willing to have their taxes go up. As one parent put it "you can't get these things free, hey!" There was discussion around the merits of provincial software licensing for schools, hoping that you have access to increased software which "would not be as expensive in the long run".
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Theme 3: Students need to be educated not only about the use of technologies, they need to develop an understanding of the potential impact on the quality of our lives.
Parents were very supportive of the need to teach about the pro's and con's of the introduction of technologies. Parents wanted their children to understand the potential impact that may result from their introduction and use so they could make good choices. Safety concerns were raised as were concerns regarding changing patterns of personal interactions. Parents did not want the use of technologies to lead to their children becoming isolated. They wanted them to grow into people who would "be able to help each other and work together".
One could also interpret this as being a position that students were articulating. For example, there was the concern that while technologies made life easier it wasn't necessarily better.
[Student]: I think it would be better if we had to do like my grandma and grandpa did, like they had to really work, they knew what life was like, like the hard times and stuff. I think it would be better, personally.
Other students were concerned that the introduction of technologies was making them lazier, and that it led to decreased employment. There was even more of a concern over technologies that were providing increased entertainment in one's own home. Students saw this trend leading to a significant decrease in socializing with family and friends. This was a unique and very insightful perspective, for these students were major users of such technologies. They also faced a conundrum. Many felt that without the technologies, life would be "pretty dull", "uncivilized", and "wouldn't be fun".
Parents also expressed concern over future career opportunities for their children. They wanted their children to have good career counselling, so their children could determine their interests and explore their choices. As one parent said "I think trustees
could put a little bit more into trying to have something that will help kids in that regard. Like what areas of jobs are needed to be filled, where those are..."
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In this study we set out to
1. Examine the views of teachers and parents on technologies which they feel should be taught about and/or used in schools.
2. Examine the views held on the impact of certain technologies on teachers and teaching as well as learners and learning.
3. Examine how teachers and learners wish to interact with technologies to achieve their desired ends.
In our conversations relating to the first two objectives it was very clear that there was little support for distance educational technologies. There was however, support for "computers".
At first glance, this may be seen as a confirmation of the appropriateness of the views of educational bureaucracies and government agencies which are pushing for keyboarding skills and computer programming. But the interviews suggest otherwise. The people in this study believe they are surrounded by computers. When asked to point out
where, many make an artifactual response -- "there's one in my car", "there's one in the till at the grocery store" -- but in these instances, they are not pointing out the presence of an actual computer.
There is a great confusion over computer versus chip technology. In this light, arguments in favour of "teaching computers" in school fail. It appears that the black boxes of chip technology are what people are talking about. "Computers" is a metaphor, not a reality. It is a powerful metaphor. In peoples' minds, it acknowledges that we live in a digital world. It can be used as a marketing strategy for education.
Most importantly, the word has become a slogan. Just as Roberts (1983) argued that scientific literacy had become a slogan, we argue that computers (sometimes hiding as computer literacy) has become a new one. This slogan has been carefully marketed through the mass media. It is not surprising to find that people in schools are concerned with computer technology. STSE curricula would argue that the central issue is not teaching how to use the technology. Rather, these curricula argue for a critical examination of these technologies, particularly as they affect schools, people, and their families. This notion was supported in the study. However a balance between understanding the impact of technologies and practical "hands-on" experience with technologies was what was wanted.
In regards to objective three then, direct participatory interaction with many technologies was desired to accomplish a number of desired ends. In addition, it was very clear that this experience was to be obtained through their own local school, in the traditional context of schooling. Technologies were to be used to extend their current system of education, not to limit it and to enhance the student-student and student-teacher interactions, not to do away with it.
Students should have not only practical experience in using technologies and have some understanding about how they work, they should have the opportunity to develop skills which can be used to critique the impact these technologies may have in the world of today and the world of tomorrow.
In this study explorations extended into the component of the "sociocultural system of use". Discussions with the respondents in our study appear to provide a different perspective from the perspective of students reported by Klerk Wolters, Raat and Vries (1990) and different from that of the Saskatchewan teachers, as reported by Fleming (1992). The message from this study was clearly the need to maintain a balanced approach. This need was expressed by Thompson (1992) and supports Collins (1987) contention that "individuals and society as a whole must find ways to balance the old with the new -- the high-tech with the soft-touch -- as we rush ahead into the future" (p.11).
May we not be rushed into decisions about technologies which may appear very high-tech and therefore very impressive, but that don't provide for the "soft-touch". We need to use technologies to support what is already good in our educational system, not to replace it.
This was clearly the "will" expressed in this study. It is yet to be determined if this "will" will become the "way" that educational decision makers will follow.
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This report was prepared with the support of a grant from the Saskatchewan School Trustees Association Research Centre. The authors grant the SSTA license to distribute this document in its entirety to educators within the province of Saskatchewan. The opinions expressed in this report are the opinions of the authors and may or may not be in agreement with SSTA Officers or Trustees, but are offered as being worthy of consideration by those responsible for making decisions.
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