Contents 1.0 Definition of terms 3 2.0 Introduction and overview 3-4 3.0 Methodology 4-5 3.1 Quantitative questionnaire 3.2 Structure Main Body 5-25 4.0 Education 6-11 4.1 Subject links. 6-7 4.2 Formal education. 7-10 4.3 Perception of education. 10-11 5.0 Education and Technology 11-18 5.1 The internet and Media. 11-13 5.2 Early technological education. 13-14 5.3 Communications and knowledge management. 14-15 5.4 Formal IT trust. 15-18 6.0 Computing and Accessibility 18-22 6.1 Internet freedom. 18-19 6.2 Information access. 19-21 6.3 Multi-media education. 21-22 7.0 Education and distance learning theory 23-33 7.1 Distance learning. 23-24 7.2 Autonomy. 24-25 7.3 Globalisation. 25-27 7.4 Information Censorship. 27-30 7.5 Cyber communities 30-31 7.6 E-learning adoption. 31-32 8.0 Conclusions and recommendations 32-34 9.0 Bibliography 35-37 10.0 Appendices 38-42 10.1 Appendix A 38-39 10.2 Appendix B 39-41 10.3 Appendix C 42 1.0 Definition of terms Before going further, I need to define some terms as used in the context of this report. "Education" is the process of educating or being educated. "Educate" is to give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to, or to give training in or information on a particular subject. "Educated" is to have undergone education: educated people, or is characterized by or displaying qualities of culture and learning, or is based on some information or experience. "Educating" is to develop the faculties and powers of (a person) by teaching, instruction, or schooling, or to qualify by instruction or training for a particular calling, practice, etc. "Educator" is a person or thing that educates, i.e. a teacher, principal, or other person/thing involved in planning or directing education. 2.0 Introduction and Overview This report has been compiled and constructed from specific observations about the stagnation and weakening of education reform within the UK, in the hope of detecting patterns and irregularities which will hopefully provide a guide in highlighting areas of missed opportunity related with online communications. There have been various government initiatives which have looked at reforming education and the manner in which education is financed, but internet communications, a central theme to the modern life style, have not received the attention I believe they warrant. The UK has undoubted strengths when it comes to an ability to compete in knowledge economies. It has a long history in education and technological expertise, both of which are areas of economic stability and expansion for the future. Having ascertained that a perceptively inanimate object or system can fit the formal interpretation of an “educator” it is perhaps logical to assume therefore that those who are educated by an educator are in some form “educated”, but to what degree? And does that make a systemic network of computational interface and communication (the internet), a valid form of education? And if so, are the internet technologies being used effectively? Is form following desired function for the internet? What are the moral / actual implications when allowing or denying access to information and knowledge? What are the relevant theories and vested interests when dealing in these areas? This report is aimed at bringing together an innovative hypotheses that can be explored and used to inform any conclusions and theories that evolve. “Enterprise that fails to be sufficiently creative is simply pouring more energy into prolonging yesterday’s ideas. Creativity, properly employed, carefully evaluated, skilfully managed and soundly implemented, is a key to future business success – and to national prosperity.” Sir George Cox- The Cox Review. We can therefore ask the question: is this being achieved within the higher architectures of education and internet communications? 3.0 Methodology To achieve the above aims a combination of approaches has been employed to yield as innovative a conclusion as possible. Any information required came from considered and appropriate sourcing, taking into account the various source attributes. This has previously been analysed in the literature review preparatory work in leading up to this report. This wide consultation incorporated a main substrate of secondary sourcing which provided the informed thinking required to delve into this deep and multi-faceted topic. A range of mediums have been used to assess each topic area and to gather required data. Where secondary sourcing was lacking, specifically in the areas of public opinion, a survey was carried out, gauging public opinion to information technology in society. 3.1 Quantitative questionnaire The quantitative data collected for this study consisted of a questionnaire, which was handed to 100 individuals to assess public perception of information providers and educators within society (please see Appendices A & B for charted summary and example form). The survey involved twenty parents, ten male and ten female from a cross section of background and age groups, aiding toward gathering as accurate data as possible. In understanding and gauging this public perception a complementary approach was implemented, involving both quantitative and qualitative research. All field research remained objective and ethical, and as such adopted a standard no name policy and participant permissions. 3.2 Structure Due to the complex and challenging topic at hand the report follows three main themes: Education, Communication and Knowledge. After extensive research and literature reviews it became apparent that the bulk of information for the purpose of answering the effective use of the internet technologies in education could be obtained from a variety of available secondary resources. Secondary source literature was used as an appropriate foundation for the bulk of the research, and due to the expansive nature of the topic data was sourced from a wide variety of areas and mediums to supply the most innovative insights possible. For up to date accuracy the intent has been to incorporate a variety of electronic mediums in the research, and all statements have tried to be supported by a source to avoid an overly opinionated report. Main body 4.0 Education Education has taken many leaps and turns in its history, some big and some small; even the manner of differentiating macro and micro or right or wrong is a perception of an educated population. Education has several meanings, predominant of these being, “information being sort and acquired for the development of mental and physical abilities (learning to know)” (Concise Oxford dictionary, 2007), this is accepted as the primary interpretation, and is to be taken as true for the purposes of this report. However, education has taken on several other meanings in recent years, predominate of which is a shorthand for a kind of formal schooling or hierarchical certification for a class of ability. Education is an organic subject, a continuously mobile mix of evolving, learning, teaching, adaption and creation. It is the subject and study of making both intangible and tangible things understandable and communicable. The Oxford Dictionary definition of education describes “the process of educating or being educated”, so the discussion immediately falls into two categories of the “educator” and those being “educated”. It continues to call it “an enlightening experience in an informal context” but what does that make the formal kind of education, which is the main stay of modern society? Well it fails to mention a precise view, but goes on to discuss further possible meanings of the term as the “theory and practice of teaching”, or the “information about or training in a particular subject”. 4.1 Subject links The use of subject as a means to climb the limitless expanse of knowledge is a vital human tool. By defining boundary to a topic and/or subject one becomes capable of charting, mapping and communicating the never-ending unknown. This helps a person to conceptualise and understand something which is otherwise incommunicable. There are usually a set of rules associated and related to the various subject characteristics, these are then applied in education to define subject boundaries. However this process comes with a variety of ever present dilemmas which frequently manifest on the boundaries between subjects, e.g. the diversification of quantum mechanics from physics. Due to the rule assumptions built around the concepts of subject, physicians realised that rules in the physical taken as fact were not entirely accurate in the physics of the very small, and so they further divided physics into yet another subject quantum physics/ quantum mechanics and so on. This ‘subject’ then often goes through a process of departmentalisation, which further divides up subject into academic tribes and territories until it finally meets those being educated in a completely fragmented and abstracted form, from what it once was and/or really is. Subject is not a thing itself, it is a perception of a thing. The internet on the other hand has afforded the unique ability for content to form links, this has brought rise to what the public uses day in and day out with tools such as the Wiki, social networking and search engines. These use a set of pre- programmed ‘parameters’ to locate - not necessarily along the lines of subject - but along the lines of basically any thing the programmer wants. From similar words or pictures in the document, to previous search history preferences or any other content ‘parameter’ related search. This therefore has afforded the opportunity to not only learn by limiting subject alone but by any set of ‘parameters’ or interests that the user prefers. 4.2 Formal Education Before we start to discuss what constitutes an effective use of online communications we must first understand the context of education in the UK and the history that it follows. The division of subject and motivation behind departmentalisation will form the bed rock of future discussion of education, so it is important to be clear when it comes to what we mean by modern formal teaching. So what is the education knowledge transfer agenda? The modern systems for education in the UK are primarily based on a comprehensive scheme (all inclusive). As Spartacus Educational 2008 states, “The 1944 Education Act provided universal free schooling in three different types of schools: grammar, secondary modern and technical. Rab Butler hoped that these schools would cater for the different academic levels of children. Entry to these schools was based on the 11 plus examination”. However many educational experts were opposed to the idea of selection at eleven years old and argued that secondary modern schools were providing a second-class education. Some Local Education Authorities experimented with the idea of creating comprehensive schools designed to provide an education for children of all abilities. “Although initially hostile to these schools, by the 1960s Harold Wilson’s Labour Party supported plans to phase out grammar schools. Following the 1964 General Election, the new Labour Government instructed all local authorities to prepare plans for the creation of comprehensive schools, either by amalgamation or the building of new schools. This policy was also accepted by Conservative governments and by 1990 the majority of grammar schools had been turned into comprehensives or had become independent”, (Spartacus Educational, 2008), which is true to this day. More recently there has been a battle of wills between the perceptions of modern educationalists dealing with the level of educational access which should be granted to the general population. This is an important ideological battle which is particularly prevalent in the Labour party on the grounds of moral stance and the right of access to a higher level of education. In modern Labour governments there has been a tension between the early Fabians politicians who saw educational reform in terms of economic efficiency, and the ethical socialists whose vision of a more moral society stressed the importance of a social justice in education. This balance has been ever more leaning in favour of the early Fabians ideologies, and the turning of profit out of education, in fact the knowledge and technological based industries are now some of Britain’s biggest earners. The Prime Minister’s council on trade and industry states: “The source of technology is science that is rooted in knowledge. The recent World Development Report highlights the importance of knowledge in the progress of a nation's economy. Developed economies have abundant resources of knowledge workers; this poses a significant barrier to entry for developing economies. We are in the era of knowledge-based competition – and the progress of our economy will depend on how best we can leverage our intellectual capital. We have amongst the richest potential resources as far as intellectual capital is concerned. We need to find ways of harnessing this resource to bring about sweeping changes in industry and in society at large.”(Prime ministers council on trade and industry website, 2008). In the past decade this political ideology and lure of control over the population, evolved into very high levels of privatisation, bringing ever wider divide and segregation in access to education. This was specifically prevalent after the abolition of university grants in 1993 and the resulting 1997 Blair “The third way" speeches. A variety of individuals following the situation questioned how much has the reality matched the rhetoric of radical change? “There is no doubt that there has been a major financial investment. Whether the money has been wisely spent is another question - with the government now spending almost £1.2bn on education every week, and little if any change in results.” (Coughlan, S, BBC News education report, 2007). This profit based motive in education has left nothing to the imagination, going as far as turning schools into businesses, via the privatisation of state schools in 2005 where businesses where allowed to buy into schools as an investment. “Schools Minister David Milliband demonstrated the Government's adoration of business involvement in schools when he declared that every FTSE company ought to become a sponsor for state secondary schools.”(Workers liberty website, 08). The businesses eventually tied the hands of the ‘super schools’ in contracts designed to drip the colleges dry, one example with truly controversial results was, “a college in County Durham which after receiving initial funding for new rooms and equipment had to stop using rooms because it was being charged £15 a go to change light bulbs and couldn’t afford the costs.”(Galan, J.BBC News web, Feb 06). 4.3 Perception of education So how do students and the public view education? There have been several surveys examining the perception of distance education in recent years. One such survey is Daugherty and Funke’s investigation of perspectives of university faculty and students currently involved in one medium of distance education, i.e Web-based instruction. Students and faculty were surveyed on the advantages, disadvantages, and general effectiveness of using the Internet as a teaching and learning tool. Daugherty and Funke remarked from their research, “Findings indicated that the student benefits included (a) meaningful learning of technology through the integration of course content and computer applications, (b) increased access to the most current and global content information available, (c) increased motivation, and (d) convenience. Faculty reported a wide range of challenges in the development and delivery of Web-based instruction. The most frequently identified barriers included (a) lack of technical support, (b) lack of software/adequate equipment, (c) lack of faculty/administrative support, (d) the amount of preparation time required to create assignments, and (e) student resistance. In addition, faculty respondents consistently identified convenience and improved learning as advantages for students enrolled in Web-based instruction.” (Daugherty, M. & Funke, B. L.1998). The benefits of the internet and the depreciation in the use of classical ‘formal forms’ of education can be seen throughout the UK, the School Library Association have, for instance, remarked on several occasions of a massive reduction in book loans and use of services: “The average number of books in secondary school libraries was just 8 per pupil” almost half CILIP's (Chartered Institute of Library and Professionals) recommended figures. They go on to say that “On average pupils in secondary schools only borrowed one book each per term and that 85% of secondary schools reported that expenditure on the library in 2006-07 was around the same or lower than the previous year”( School library association website, 2007). However this is a highly contested topic with many parties having sensitive vested interests, Booktrust, who are a major representative for the industry, say effective school libraries are the best way of giving children from all backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy books. It added, "Where there is a dedicated library space, pupil access to it is often restricted by limited opening hours, which impinges on independent reading and borrowing.” Various media bodies have also commented that, "Many primary schools do not seem to know how to manage their school library effectively even if they have the resources available” (Clark, L, The Daily Mail Archive). Another article printed in the Daily Mail by Sarah Harris (Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008) entitled “Log on for your lessons” (Appendix C) discusses the failing education system and the plight of a “growing number of parents who are now opting out of state education in favour of alternative methods of educating their children”. The article continues to say, “The internet has played a major role in fuelling the boom; allowing parents to download teaching materials.” Learning institutions have now taken this to a new level with the Open University about to launch the Practice-based Research in Educational Technology (Feb. 2008). An international online masters-level course, within an online tutor group, course participants develop skills in locating, understanding and critically assessing research studies. They examine associated theories, ethics, epistemology and even the relationships between research, technology, policy and practice.
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