I just recently came across The Economist Debates about Education, thanks to Ewan McIntosh's blog - he is a "formal debater" for one of the articles. I am a big fan of The Economist and am impressed with this venture into combining online polls, fact-finding, and blogging in a familiar term of "Debate."
One of the previously debated questions catches my eye,
The house REJECTED the proposition that "The continuing introduction of new technologies and new media adds little to the quality of most education."
First and foremost the "Harvard Model Congress (Class of '94, '95) Member" in me - gets all excited about the debate format. But Secondly, I am impressed with the way the question is phrased. They do not question technology itself, but new technology. The use of technology for its own sake is ill advised, but the concept of new technology being automatically bad disturbs me. I would also be concerned about the term of new technology in education. What is New to me may be Old to someone else. Considering the budgetary cycle of education, implementing new technology is not as "lightening fast" as it may be made out to be. Overall, I am pleased that the proposition was opposed, but it is still by a close margin.
The Current Proposition is: Social Networking: does it bring positive change to education?
Ewan McIntosh heads the Proposition and I agree with him in that Social Networking is not just MySpace, it is not Facebook - it is the online network we create for ourselves. The concept of Personal Learning Networks is growing, and how you may not realize you have a social network - but the blogs you check, the IMs you send and the e-mails you recieve all create a social network and connection of friends that you may have never met in real life.
The concept that Social Networking is bringing a positive Change strikes me as odd. Social Networking exists and is being brought into education by our students. Are cell phones negative in the classroom? Some would say Yes. Are laptops negative? Is the Internet? The answer to these questions all depends on the context and the way it is used in the classroom. Social Networks, in whatever form they take - are only positive when facilitated correctly.
I am looking forward to the debate....