In this contribution I’d like to present to you a short overview of eInclusion from two perspectives. I start with the example of a student’s learning situation in a private school, then in contrast going on with illuminating most students’ situation in public schools.
Then I consider a constructivist view of learning as an adequate pedagogic strategy for “new schools” that aim at helping students develop good competence in ICT and media perception.
There are two perspectives in the center of this text:
1) eInclusion focusing students:
Students from ALL social backgrounds should have the opportunity of including ICTS into their lifes , develop skills in this field and also in the field of media competencies.
Next to the view onto the development of skills in using ICT and the importance of helping students develop media-competencies, I’d like to consider a constructivist view of learning (and teaching).
2.) in my opinion it’s necessary to include poverty as a topic also for students.
The inclusion of poverty in media contexts is of high importance to me and in the center of a scientific debate I am working out at the moment.
Social (e)Inclusion in my opinion also contains that we do not only try to include the poor into social partake, but also make poverty visible which is the first step to make a change for the better.
CYBERHOMEWORK - a student’s learning situation in a private school
Austria in 2009:
„I enjoy doing cyber-homework a lot“, says Max, 10 years. “It’s fun!”
Max attends a private school. Cyber-homework in subjects like English is standard.
Students of his school have the opportunity of using ICT - computers are integrated in various subjects: for instance, they often can try CD-ROMS and use computers in geography, and of course homework for, let’s say, biology can be done on computer, using ICT for finding out about different tasks.
They are doing different kind of small “projects” that way.
Investigating about the number of a certain kind of insects in combination with book and Wikipedia can be lots of fun!
Studying gets exciting this way.
Max has been working a lot with computers and different media for several years. He started in pre-school at the age of 3 years, starting with about 15 to a maximum of 20 minutes per session.
This worked out very well.
He now is an expert who can easily use ICT and enjoys finding out more about the world he is part of.
Max is privileged:
He attends a private school that offers a wide range of possibilities and that has an excellent image.
Many lessons take place in small groups of students, in many subjects (languages and natural sciences) Max and his classmates are divided into small groups, each group of students having a teacher of their own.
But what about children, that attend a public school?
Education in public schools does in most cases look different than in the example above.
Children that do not attend a private school and that don’t derive from a family that are good educated and use ICT in their careers as well as in their private life are disadvantaged this way, because they don’t learn a reasonable way of dealing with ICT, of recognizing risks and opportunities in this context.
That way they are neither at home nor at school confronted with a reasonable and “success-oriented” use of ICT.
“Children are our future” is a motto often heard.
Private schools are in a better economical position, but what about the public ones?
Is it alright, that some children are privileged, and those deriving from poor families, or families that are not that wealthy, in some way “loose”?
It is important to keep in mind, that not every parent notices how important a really good education is for every child, and that not every one is wealthy enough to send their child to a language school for instance to take English classes there, because the local elementary school does NOT teach English, even though it is obliged to do so!
In the recent years Austrian public schools had less money than needed, as it seems.
Even though there are initiatives in Austria like EDUmoodle that try to integrate technological enhanced learning into education and young people’s lives, and there are also concerned teachers that are trying to improve learning conditions for “their” students on their own.
This lack of enough money for the inclusion of pupils from all social backgrounds into achieving knowledge and experience concerning the use of ICT affects our future society. If it’s not able to make a change, children from certain social backgrounds will be left behind and therefore are very likely to suffer from different disadvantages concerning their personal developments in fields of further education, social statuses and careers.
In the end it affects all of us: it affects economy and therefore European Society.
Also these children are members of our knowledge-society.
They have the right to take part and as Hasebrink et al. point out:
“As the rise in new technologies leads towards network or knowledge societies, schools have an important role in strengthening children’s competencies in dealing with the opportunities and risks associated with ICT” (Livingston 2009, 217 ff.).
2009 ICT has already moved into Austrian schools, but further improvements are necessary.
Schools have the responsibility of helping students develop their skills in using ICT and online learning, and supporting the development of students’ media-competence is also most important.
ICT AND SCHOOLS
According to the report on data availability and research gaps in Europe within the project “EU Kids Online” Paus-Hasebrink says there are two statements that can be made about “ICT and Schools” (Livingston 2009, 220):
More research is needed on the role of teachers (relating to various categories), and second, in her opinion many European countries lack an evidence base regarding online learning.
For an overview of available studies concerning ICT and schools Paus-Hasebrink and her team filtered relevant studies within the EU Kids Online data repository (see www.lse.ac.uk/collections/EUKidsOnline/ ).
She made a pan-European comparison about European kids’ use of internet in and for school:
“On average, European children use the internet more in the home (67%) than in school (57%); moreover, the more they use it at home, the more they also use it at school” (Livingston 2009, 221 ff.).