AI in DE

Graphic Credit: Lisa Hammershaimb

Artificial Intelligence in Distance Education is a presentation raising questions to consider.  Here’s an excerpt:

Like many scholars of technology, the Amish have rejected the idea that technologies are value-free tools.  Instead, they recognize that “technology and social order are constructed simultaneously and influence each other a great deal” (Wetmore, 2012, p. 11).

For many of us, the technology rules the Amish have developed seem arbitrary and silly. But they are actually thought through very well.…  The Amish believe that the best life is one that is lived in community with fellow believers. The majority of their decisions are driven by the goal of strengthening the ties they have to one another. (Wetmore, 2012, para. 5)

“The Amish believe that technologies can reinforce social norms, enable or constrain the ways that people interact with one another, and shape a culture’s identity” (Wetmore 2012, p. 11).

Bates (2005) writes that “we need some kind of framework to enable decision making about the choice and use of technology for teaching” (p. 41).  Interestingly, Bates identifies the typical factors that have influenced decision making about education technologies, as availability of technology, free or cheap procurement, technologies that replicate traditional teaching formats, and enthusiasm of decision maker. None of these have much relation to educational theories.  Notably (disappointingly), when Bates proposes an alternative framework for technology selection and application, teaching and learning is included but identified as a weak discriminator because it’s too complex.  “It is much easier to discriminate between technology on the basis of access or cost than on the basis of teaching effectiveness” (Bates, 2005, p. 59).  There are too many variables including teachers’ skill and motivation to teach regardless of media and technologies and learners’ preferred learning styles as well as the capacity and motivation to learn with excellent or poor learning technologies (p. 58). Bates is optimistic that this will change and research will begin to identify differences that media and technology have on teaching and learning (p. 59).

References for full presentation.

Prepared by Lisa Hammershaimb and Peggy Lynn MacIsaac

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