Ideology and pedagogy: The uses of and justifications for computers and the Internet in elementary schools
Scott Adam Webber, University of Colorado at Boulder, United States
University of Colorado at Boulder . Awarded
Based on six months of fieldwork in two elementary schools, I examined the ways that educators within the system of schooling make use of computers and the Internet and then justify this use. Taking a critical approach to the study of communication and culture and based on participant observation and in-depth, open-ended interviews with teachers, principals, and district officials, I explored the ways that these educators, when making decisions regarding the use of technology, rely mainly on ideological justifications related to the perceived importance of technology in society rather than on either the potential pedagogical usefulness of the technology or their own experience seeing the often limited benefits of such technology in a school setting. The school-based use of computers and the Internet is justified mainly either as providing increased student effectiveness in the future or as required for students' future success and even survival in a technology-heavy society. Students are being trained, as early as elementary school, to prepare for high-tech careers, to possess specific technology-related skills, and with the belief that these skills guarantee them a successful future (meaning a high paying job). This may not be the case, however. My work is a critique not only of the current uses of computers and the Internet and the justifications on which this use is based, but overall can be seen adding to the voices critical of a notion that use of technology (and technology itself) is reflective of progress. My major contention is that the perceived importance of computers and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and suggestions that they must necessarily appear in curriculum plans and budget proposals is being driven not solely or even primarily by pedagogy or by best practices in schools, but by the ideology surrounding the importance of technology in society, the perceived connection between things technological and notions of progress, and the belief that computer and Internet skills will be critical to the future success of the 10-year-olds at Harper and Lincoln elementary schools.
Webber, S.A. Ideology and pedagogy: The uses of and justifications for computers and the Internet in elementary schools. Ph.D. thesis, University of Colorado at Boulder.
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