Wednesday, July 05, 2006

eLearning Conference 2006: session on Foresights in eLearning

I was happy the see "Foresight for learning" as one of the strands of the conference. It's about time to start preparing for the future, instead of only looking in insights and hindsights in the past. It's good to focus on impact studies and what ICTs have actually brought into education and learning, but preparing for the future seems really crucial too.

First presentation laid the ground for the strand. Mr. Punie from the European Commission's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies talked about the trends with some interesting figures. He, for example, mentioned that peer to peer (P2P) was currently one of the most used way to network, that MySpace was more accessed daily than some of the search engines, etc. I hope the slides will be available soon.

Secondly, a Finnish Member of the Finnish Parliament, Jyrki J.J. Kasvi , gave some insights into the work of the Finnish parliamentary committee on the Future foresights . Interestingly, Parliament initiated this committee in 2000 to pro-actively address issues that are important now to shape the future. Mr. Kasvi talked about societal changes that technology has brought and said that what we are seeing now is only the beginning of the "revolution".

Lastly, Mr Pedro from the OECD discussed the impact of ICTs on educational outcomes. He stated that little evidence, both research-based and comparative, is there to show the impact. However, it seems that we can show, for example, that pupils who have access to computers not only in schools, but also at home (frequency of home use is also critical), have more positive learning outcomes. Also, experience in using computers seems to have an important impact in learning outcomes. Some UK data was made available in another session on this too("Children and Young people's home use of ICT for Educational Purposes" Defs 2005).

Home use of computers, of course, brings in the socio-economical status of learners and brings in the issue of digital divide. Interestingly, Mr. Pedro had data from France showing that low-cost technology such as SMS, was used across economic-social status, so the hope is there if frequently used.


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