Learning and Knowledge Analytics in Open Education – Utopian and distopian futures for learning technologies

This article aims to introduce us to two main optics trough which technology in education can be viewed. These are the utopian view and a distopian one. In essence, utopian view holds possition that implementation of more technology into education will always lead to positive effects acros the board. Utopian forecast of the future believes this will lead to a society of self empowered knowledge workers, obsolescence of cities and destruction of traditional government hierarchies. As far as education is concerned, it should lead to bigger personalization, large scale colaboration and informalization of education process. The article goes on in great lenghts to describe different forces, shifts and elements that might have a key role in shaping such future. Small portion of the article also conserns itself with distopian view that views the problem trough more pessimistic lense (dumbig down, devaluation of knowledge and so on).

In my view, the name of the article is sort of misleading. It leads reader to expect comparision of utopian and distopian view with both parts given equal amount of attention. In fact, most of the article is concerned only with utopian view and not much thought went into the other one.

I am an optimist in matter of technology in education. That beying said there always needs to be an understanding that technology is a double-edged sword and could have great potential bennefits as well as very negative fallout. As far as I can see, today we mostly try to leverage technological benefits to make education more fun and easy to absorb. But isnt it the pressure of brain trying to strugle with new concepts and difficult situations that ultimately expands our minds? Therefore I dont think that technology should make things simpler for us in the field of education. It should rather be used to stimulate our brains in novel ways and create new types of pressure that are more effective in mind expansion field than the old ones.
In this regard I see the distopian view as more important than the utopian one. Trough the lens of healthy scepticism we can see potential negative effects and roadblocks and try to implement precautions for them in design of edtech.

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2 thoughts on “Learning and Knowledge Analytics in Open Education – Utopian and distopian futures for learning technologies”

  1. Perhaps just one question – what do we think from our current knowledge can we estimate or supervise future risks? Are not we modern Julis Verne?

    1. Hi! I thing the precise opposite in fact. Today, it seems to be hard enough to watch what is going on right now, leave alone some „future seing“. Great example of this is a Timm O´reilly book „WTF“ in which author states that „the future is already here, just not evenly distributed“. What he means is that there are paradigm changing new trends all over theplace, some of which could help us, some of which sould doom us. They may or may not grow, which depends on so many factors its impossible to take them all into consideration. Then there are big trends that are definatelly on the rise, but no one knows how they will turn out. Like general purpose UI. This trend could save us or could just be our last nail in the coffin. I dont think that there is any sence in analyzing this from our limited perspective. I am technooptimist in the big picture myself (meaning better future and ways to repir damage we have done), but always with a feeling that I could be totally wrong. In the sphere of our personal lives though, I feel like impropper use of consumer electronics is making us soft, lazy, stupid and too dependant. So in that sence I am also technonegativist

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