Education in the technological world

Tomi Kiilakoski

(In Finnish: Kasvatus teknologisessa maailmassa. Tutkimus teknologisoituvasta)

This doctoral dissertation looks philosophically at the nature of technology and examines what kind of relationship exists between technology and education. The work describes the technologisation of education, a trajectory in which pedagogical questions are interpreted as technological questions about the efficient achievement of teaching results without scrutinising its immediate context or the socio-technological framework which shapes it.

The study is comprised of an introduction, seven articles, and a summary article. The texts combine theoretical insights on education with critical contemporary analysis and practical examples. The articles analyse historical trajectories, through which education began to be framed more as an instrument, and the ways in which educational environments have been transformed due to the use of technology. It is demonstrated that the effects of the technologisation of education are invisible if the use of technology is approached merely as an instrument for something.

The study is divided into two parts. In the first part the research question is generally what kinds of reasoning can be found behind the technologisation of education and what kinds of forms the technological outlook has assumed in education politics, the use of educational technology, the planning of the curriculum, and in relation to the subject of education. The second part analyses the role of the Internet in more detail in the formal and informal arenas of learning and suggests how the Internet should be understood in the context of pedagogy and education.

The conceptual tools for the study are the concepts of technology and instrumental rationality. The study is primarily theoretical. Technology is seen in the cultural paradigm, which reflects into many parts of human life. The concept of instrumental rationality is used to analyse how seeing education as a tool for achieving pre-set goals influences education practices and narrows down the field of pedagogy. The study argues that technology is an unavoidable part of the contemporary world and must also be examined in the context of pedagogy and education. The use of new technology or a technical device is a transformation in the socio-technical system and the use of new technology re-moulds the entire operational environment.

The study deconstructs the cultural roots of the technology and identifies factors that strengthen the understanding of education as instrumental activity. It transcends the chasm between technological pessimism and optimism and creates new perspectives on how technology can be used sensibly in education. The background of the study is the pluralistic position, which holds that education cannot only follow the technological outlook, but rather there must be several different ways of viewing the challenges of education. One must at the same time live with technology in a technological world and make use of the possibilities it creates, but at the same time one must also analyse its manifestations critically and carefully with regards to its impact on feelings of community and individuality