Technology and education: A broad perspective

Year: 2013

Author: Woolcott, Geoff

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Technology has become an important component of modern educational practice partly because technology can be used to store information externally to human memory and to impart instruction, but partly also because students can be engaged through the technological devices that they use for social communication. This paper examines technology and its place in modern education in the context of human cultural accumulation processes, where individual memory may be accumulated through the interaction of novel information with stored information, including information in long-term memory, an interaction referred to here as problem solving. Learning generally, in dealing with novel information, appears to utilise remembered information in a variable and selective way, in accordance with requirements of the prevailing culture and with historical practice. The learning of technology, in a broad sense, is tied also to these cultural accumulation processes and historical practice, but the application of technology across knowledge domains reflects its use prior to the development of subjects as taught in modern educational institutions. This paper outlines how combined studies in cognitive psychology and integrative biology offer a increasingly detailed understanding of the processes involved in human learning and memory, including those involved in learning and remembering technology and other aspects of accumulated culture, including knowledge and skills. Although the use and effectiveness of technology in education is an important issue for the modern teacher, there is little in the way of effective scientific frameworks that allow the modern teacher to compare educational approaches and their effectiveness in teaching practice, and much less in the way of frameworks that can, in turn, be applied to assessing the use and effectiveness of technology. This paper explores the development of such a framework, based in a little-used view of information and suggests how this framework may be used to examine the role of technology in human learning and memory and to examine its intersection with education and teaching.