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Debate archive: Continuing introduction of new technologies and new media adds little to the quality of most education

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Economist Online Debate Series

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Click here to enter the Economist debate on this proposition, which took place in October, 2007.

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Background and context

This debate proposition was coordinated by the's Debate Series between October 16 and October 23rd, 2007. The debate stems from a series of questions and concerns surrounding the increasing use of the latest technologies in educational systems.

Learning: Does technology detract from individual learning?



  • Computers and Internet offer too many distractions from real learning - While there may be an infinite array of possible learning avenues via tech and online tools, there is also end infinite array of possible distractions, including such things as IMing, Facebook, and other destinations that could be considered distractions from real learning.
  • Internet surfing is not a good way to experience reality and the world.


  • Technology allows for the creation of superior knowledge. - Technology is not simply a forum for presenting existing knowledge, but becomes fundamentally part of the creation of new knowledge and, thus, the substance of that knowledge itself. Superior knowledge can result. One compelling example is Wikipedia.

You can click the pencil icon and edit and write here. What's a wiki?. Getting Started

Teachers: Does technology provide little to teachers and teacher-student interaction?


  • Technology is merely a tool facilitating education - The fundamentals of teacher training, teacher-student interaction, curriculum, and proper funding remain the most important elements of education. Technology is merely a tool around these more fundamental elements of education.
  • Technology is being poorly implemented in the classroom - Poor implementation of new technologies is a major problem. An additional problem is that sound implementation requires proficiency in these systems. As described above, this can be a distraction from more important teacher objectives.


  • Technology can enable a more holistic presentation of knowledge than teachers alone are capable of providing: Let's face this. Educators don't have the ability to give a holistic education. Their qualifications in a certain subject determines their capabilities. But can he or she relate the subject that he or she masters, effectively, with other subjects that he or she isn't able to master? This is a holistic education. Technology can make an impact in this regard. For example, software can store as knowledge complicated information that exceeds the memory of a human being, in this case, educators. Such software can be used to assist teachers in giving a more holistic education.

Workplace value: Does technology add little to educating for the workplace?

In my opinion, there is no reason to be discussing this issue. Education is not about placing individuals into the workplace. It's about teaching them how to learn, and about life values. Brooks Lindsay 14:24, 23 October 2007 (CDT)


  • Communicating via computers undermines interpersonal skills - People are spending far too much time on their computers today, writing emails, IMs, and generally missing out on important opportunities to build interpersonal skills. These skills are very important in the business world. Performance in interviews, in social settings, and in face-to-face meetings suffers as a result.


Distance learning: Do tech-enabled distance learning programs add little to education?



Economics: Do technologies add to education costs or do they help reduce them?



  • Technology reduces the cost of education - This argument focuses primarily on the economies of scale that new technologies introduce in education, helping cut the costs of various tasks, transfers of information, transport of individuals and so-forth.

Third world: Does technology add little to education in the third world?



  • Technology improves third-world access to knowledge and learning - Technology enables those with limited access to higher education to connect with and learn about the wider world. While many third world `countries do not have internet access, this is slowly changing. With such changes, the opportunities for access to world's of information are infinite.

Education mission: Is new tech inconsistent with the mission of education?


  • We should not test new technologies on students.


Profit interests: Are profit interests in too great of control of education tech?


Higher education is being seen as a new profit area by some companies. But, it has been my experience that outside vendors don't do well in the classroom


  • Profit interests are an important driver of education-tech innovation.
  • Profit interests can be regulated to ensure appropriate use.

Critiques of the proposition

  • Economist Debate Series. aidan clarke. October 20, 2007 - "The proposition seems ill-phrased. 'Technology' is merely another way of saying 'advanced tool'. As such, I believe the same caveats apply to it, as do to general tools. Does EVERY new technology increase the quality of education? Probably not - the same way that every new technology does not increase the quality of, say, cabbage growing. Does SOME new technology increase the quality of education? Probably yes - after all, no new technology is adapted unless it offers some benefit to something. The best way to establish what works and how much, would seem to me to be to experiment."

Organizations of relevance to this topic

See also

External links and resources

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