ICT as Threats to Education
As in other socio-economic spheres, in education, technology companies are important players in the ICT and education space. They provide ‘ICT-based educational services’ to schools, through digital content and ICT teachers. Since its digital content can be easily played in schools, it is seen as a solution to the large-scale content needs of the public education system.
However, this process generally means that the teacher remains a “consumer” of content created elsewhere, and that this “digital content” is attached to the textbook that the State Department of Education produces for all schools. It also leads to the privatization of the school curriculum. Although textbooks and other materials created by regional governments must comply with national and regional curricula and established educational principles, such conformity is not required, nor is it explicitly perceived in the case of digital content, the quality of which is often doubtful In the absence of safeguards to ensure compliance with educational objectives, giving more space to the role of a privatized curriculum constitutes a threat to the broader trans-formative objectives of education discussed above, as private sellers typically restrict their digital content to academic areas..
Second, the provision of this type of electronic content is moving to the ‘cloud’, where schools need to connect to platforms created by companies to access resources. While the cloud alleviates the requirement for dynamic content, it can lead to centralization and a ‘one size fits all’ mode of content delivery. These centralized and privatized modes of ICT implementation for content delivery are attractive to both education bureaucrats (who often have deep mistrust of the teacher) and businesses. However, they dis-empower the teachers and reduce the possibilities for contextual learning. The role of teachers is limited to that of ‘user’ or ‘consumer’. The possibilities to explore different learning paths and to address the diverse learning needs of different students are limited by the thinking behind prepackaged content.
ICT as an empowerment process However, ICT in education can also be conceived in much more empowering ways. ICT can strengthen teachers’ professional development by allowing them to access various information repositories and decide what to use and adapt. Teachers can also connect with each other through digital networks for peer learning and exchange. Digital networks have allowed the emergence of ‘communities of practice’ as a powerful tool for the professional development of teachers.
Large groups of ‘professional learning communities’ in broader geographic areas can also serve as forums for sharing resources, experiences and ideas. Most importantly, teachers can use digital applications to create their own learning resources. Seymour Papert5 popularized the idea of ’construction-ism’, in which students can use digital tools to ‘create, learn’ and ‘learn and create’, which is a virtuous cycle of free exploration of digital applications to develop learning materials and Through this process, learn both about the use of digital tools and about material development processes. The materials-making process also strengthens the teacher’s aptitude for agency and develops her creative abilities. It allows you to view resources that are appropriate for the specific and diverse needs of your students. Support large-scale material development.
The process of creating digital learning materials by teachers has another potentially beneficial outcome: the development of open educational resources at scale. If teachers’ abilities to use digital applications to create materials are developed on a large scale, and when these resources are shared by teachers among themselves and published on platforms or repositories for others to use and adapt, under copyright that allows such sharing, then it would be a powerful method of creating resource-rich learning environments. In the context of non-English learning environments, this model would be even more useful, as the availability of curriculum resources in most languages in developing countries is only a fraction of what is available in English.
Conclusions – questions to ask Therefore, to realize the beneficial possibilities of AI in education and to avoid or minimize the harms, it is essential to ask questions from the political economy: who benefits and who controls it? More specifically:
1. Does the use of digital technologies support the achievement of the established educational objectives, or is it based on the technological propaganda of ‘simpler’, ‘faster’, etc., which hides the results that its use would promote? Digital technologies should only be adopted when the answer to this question is clear: that their use would contribute to the achievement of specific educational objectives. 2. Do these technologies belong to schools and teachers? Can they promote changes or seek modifications according to their needs? Or are they technologies owned by private and commercial entities, liable to respond only if there are profit opportunities, or when they can manipulate the use of the technologies for the surveillance of schools, teachers and students?
3. Who owns the data created or provided through digital applications? Who controls its use? What should be the role of private digital service providers in data management and control?
4. Does the use strengthen the agency of the teacher and the autonomy of the school, by providing more opportunity and authority? Does it provide teachers and schools with more content and pedagogical opportunities? Or does it reduce your chances? Does it weaken schools and teachers by turning them into mere instruments of the central nodes, based on platforms, which is where power and control reside?