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Thematic Areas

Information and Communication Technologies

Information and Communication Technologies

Information and Communication Technologies, is in and of itself, a tool, and many critical success factors relate to questions of how this tool is used, or what role can be and should be taken by technology (Jones, Dirckinck-Holmfeld, & Lindtröm, 2005). If we ask ‘What role should technology take?’, we need to be clear about what we aim for. One interesting feature of technologies are their affordances. ‘Affordances’ are perceived possibilities of an object for action (Gibson, 1979) and focusing on actions - i.e. asking what ICT can do for us in a given situation – opens up a broader picture. This way, we see ICT as shaped by users.  Simply put, ICT can be used in most varied forms – sometimes even different from what developers intended or had foreseen (the use of hashtags to group Twitter messages, as an example).

Working with ICTs in the context of our projects is therefore closely linked to other competencies, such as ‘participative design’ and ‘design thinking’, where we take ICT back to the intended beneficiaries.  One caveat remains, if we ask ‘What role can ICT take?’, we must watch out for, and avoid, the trap of a rather dichotomous view of ICT, where either technically predetermined or socially attributed properties determine its use. There are clear features and quality aspects that can stop even the most enthusiastic user from using a particular  ICT solution.

Apart from participative design, which aims at designing ICT environments, a systemic perspective on ICT is also part of historical development analysis (Engeström, 1987) – which implies a feedback loop, as – over time - ICT shapes that way we learn, organise work, or communicate. Hence ICT evaluations are snapshots in time, and what makes sense today can be a burden in the near future.

References:

Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit

Gibson, J. J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Jones, C., Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L., & Lindtröm, B. (2005). CSCL - The Next Ten Years – A View from Europe. Paper presented at the Computer Supported Collaborative Learning 2005: The next 10 years! : CSCL 2005, Taipei, Taiwan.

Contact person: Dr. Christian Voigt

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