Beyond functionality and technocracy: creating human involvement with educational technology

Wim Westera

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    Innovation of education is highly topical. It is obviously boosted by a range of new technologies, which enable new modes of learning that, are independent of time and place through Web-based delivery and computer-mediated communication. However, innovators in education often encounter intrinsic conservatism or even deliberate obstructions. For innovators it is important to be aware of and to understand the basic premises underlying the idea of innovation. This paper explains the origins of technological optimism and the associated faith in progress. Also, techno-pessimism as rooted in the negative side effects of the industrial revolution is reviewed. To solve the conflict between techno-optimism and techno-pessimism we elaborate Borgmann’s “devices paradigm“: in order to avoid apathetic and indifferent consumption of technology-based commodities, users of technological devices should be given the opportunity to develop substantial involvement with the technological devices. While extending this idea to educational technologies, we present an explanatory model for the mediating role of technological artefacts. In conclusion, we explain how to approach technology-based innovations in education by arguing for transparent and interactive devices, for products as carriers of meaning, for values that harmonise with the characteristics of man and for a mixed mode of developing new ideas and preserving former achievements.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-37
    Number of pages10
    JournalEducational Technology & Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Information and communication technologies
    • Learning technology
    • E-learning
    • Online learning
    • Philosophy of innovation


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