Technology-enhanced learning: A question of knowledge

Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (3-4):505-519 (2008)
Abstract
This paper is concerned with the human dimension of technology-enhanced learning; many suppositions are made about this but the amount of attention it has been given relative to that paid to technology is quite limited. It is argued that an aspect of the question that deserves more attention than it has received in the work on the application of technologies to education is epistemology on the grounds that the nature of knowledge and the general character of mind are critically important. As regards epistemology this paper draws on recent developments in philosophy by John McDowell and Robert Brandom that deal with the relation of mind to world and the nature of experience. From McDowell it draws on the idea of second nature and particularly the argument that human beings acquire their cognitive capacities by initiation into language and tradition. From Brandom it draws on the idea that humans stand apart from animals and machines in that they respond to reasons as well as to causes. It is argued that the implication of these ideas for education differ radically from the pedagogic models that underpin much work on technology-enhanced learning where the suppositions about experience are quite different. Indeed the nature of knowledge is usually presumed rather than examined and often what is taken for granted is awareness as a conceptually unmediated response to the world. These questions are raised in the context of so far disappointing results of the use of technologies to enhance learning.
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