The pandemic pushed schooling online all over the world. Good for tech solutionists and IT entrepreneurs, but bad, Mark West and UNESCO colleagues argue, for all who believe schools are a public good.
They make the case in a book titled with a question, An ed tech tragedy? Its rhetorical, their argument is the “global evidence … exposes the ways unprecedented educational dependence on technology often resulted in unchecked exclusion, staggering inequality, inadvertent harm and the elevation of learning models that place machines and profit before people.”
In essence, they argue the technology hijacked (my word not theirs) school education during shut downs, with a focus on academic progress and making technology the solution to achieving it.
“This elevation of the technical over the human is contradictory to education’s aim to further human development and cultivate humanistic values,” they write.
Nor did digital deliver for all equally; cost of kit and connectivity created exclusion, the student experience of education was impoverished and the software set the style of teaching practise.
And privatisation is pointed to as a particular problem, with corporate providers piling on with products that variously did not perform or subverted learning and teaching.
Nor was tech solutionism the only option – the authors suggest there were three alternatives.
Keeping schools open, or not closing them for as long, did not make the crisis worse.
“Pausing” formal education while schools closed
“Supporting caregivers and prioritising non-technological learning resources”