Information Age Education
   Issue Number 199
December, 2016   

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. In addition, six free books based on the newsletters are available: Validity and Credibility of Information; Education for Students’ Futures; Understanding and Mastering Complexity; Consciousness and Morality: Recent Research Developments; Creating an Appropriate 21st Century Education; and Common Core State Standards for Education in America.

Developing a Personal Philosophy of
Computers in Education 

David Moursund
Emeritus Professor of Education
University of Oregon

“Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.” (United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, 1959.)

“Imagine a school with children that can read or write, but with teachers who cannot, and you have a metaphor of the Information Age in which we live.” (Peter Cochrane; United Kingdom engineer, technologist, and entrepreneur; 1950-.)

“The most dangerous experiment we can conduct with our children is to keep schooling the same at a time when every other aspect of our society is dramatically changing.” (Chris Dede; American computer educator and futurist; from written statement to the PCAST panel, 1997.)

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” (Richard Buckminster Fuller; American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist; 1895-1983.)


This is the last in a sequence of five IAE Newsletters focusing on possible changes designed to significantly improve our educational systems. The first explores Robert Branson’s Upper Limit Hypothesis (Moursund, October 15, 2016). A number of years ago, Branson suggested that it would take a major paradigm shift (most likely based on computer technology) to significantly improve educational outcomes.

The second newsletter explores some of the challenges of setting and improving educational goals, effectively implementing these educational goals, and developing good measures of how well we are achieving the goals (Moursund, October 31, 2016). Remember, every student is unique, and education is a very complex and challenging endeavor.

 The third newsletter lists and briefly discusses a number of ongoing and new changes in our world that are affecting and/or probably should be affecting education (Moursund, November 15, 2016). That newsletter mentions Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a yen and yang change agent—one having both positive and negative impacts.

The fourth presents the idea of adding Computational Reasoning (Computational Thinking) as a 4th R. Each of the 4Rs is both a discipline of study and an interdisciplinary tool. (Moursund, November 30, 2016). The 4Rs are foundational in a modern education.

This current IAE Newsletter focuses on the idea that each educator has a personal philosophy of education. For today’s educators, it is important that this philosophy include the appropriate roles of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education. It draws heavily from a talk I gave in 2006 (Moursund, February, 2006).

The Quotations Given at the Beginning of this Newsletter

I like to collect and use poignant quotations that are representative of my beliefs (Moursund, 2016b). The four quotations given above provide some insight into my current philosophy of Computers in Education. Think about some ideas that occur to you as you ponder each quotation. Doing so will help you to gain insight into your current personal philosophy of education and computer technology in education.

Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom popularized the song It’s a Small World written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Here is a small piece of the song:

It's a world of laughter
A world of tears
It's a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There's so much that we share
That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all

Probably the tune is now going through your head. If not, you can listen to the tune at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/smworld.htm. Want to learn more about Disneyland? Short video clips are available at http://www.gofox.com/vacations/dlexplore.php?explore=Clips. Does it seem a little strange to you that a person can be reading an article from a computer screen, click on a piece of the article, and almost immediately be listening to a tune or viewing video clips that help the article to communicate more effectively? Probably not strange to you, and almost undoubtedly not strange to the many children throughout the world now growing up in this online environment. For these children, it is the new norm—it has indeed become “a small world”.

I strongly believe today’s modern education must fully incorporate the steadily growing capabilities of ICT and the Web. I think of the Web as a library of the accumulated work of humankind. In the words of Albert Einstein:

“A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” (Albert Einstein; German-born theoretical physicist and 1921 Nobel Prize winner; 1879-1955.)

Perhaps Einstein was exaggerating, but his statement raises an important idea. In our day-to-day activities we depend on and build on the previous work of others. For example, a few minutes ago I turned on my computer. It draws electricity from a huge electrical generation and distribution system. The hardware and software of my computer represent the works of thousands of researchers, developers, and distributors. I think it is a good idea to thoroughly integrate this sense of our indebtedness to countless others into our educational systems.

Developing a Personal Philosophy of Education


Many years ago, some of my Computers in Education graduate students told me about a course they were taking, one in which they were required to develop a personal philosophy of education. They said it was one of the most useful assignments they had ever been asked to do. I remember sort of laughing at the time—who needs to write down a philosophy of education?

I have gradually matured over the years and now realize the value of that assignment. Consider two very different philosophies of computers in education that I recently encountered while talking with two of my friends. The first said his philosophy of education is that teaching and learning are personal, human things. He believes that the heart of teaching and learning is the face-to-face interaction among students and teachers. Distance education (online education via computer) has inherent weaknesses because a computer is not a human being.

The second friend said that computers are an extension to the human brain—a tool designed to supplement and extend the capabilities of a human brain. Much in the way that we integrate into our curriculum and daily lives the tools that aid our physical capabilities, we need to also integrate into our curriculum and daily lives the tools that aid our cognitive capabilities.

I believe there is considerable merit in both of these views. What are your own thoughts, and how have they evolved over time? This is a key question. Presumably, many of your actions and deeds are based on your personal philosophy. As the world changes, does your personal philosophy evolve? Are you flexible in your thoughts and deeds? Or you “stuck in a rut”?

Over the years, I have listened to many educators express their own philosophy of computers in education by saying, “Computers are here to stay”. I cringe when I hear that statement, because it typically is followed by a quite shallow statement of the person’s insights into the many possible and effective applications of computers in education.

For such people, I wonder about their philosophy of education in other areas of study. Have you ever heard a person say, “My philosophy of mathematics in education is that mathematics is here to stay”? How about other statements such as “reading and writing are here to stay, or history is here to stay”?

Surely, we can expect more than that from education professionals! I hope you agree with me that such superficial statements are not particularly useful in guiding a teacher in performing everyday tasks of curriculum development, teaching, and assessment, in addition to interacting with students, parents, and colleagues, and so on.

I have for many years argued that ICT has the potential to greatly improve our educational systems. Not only are computers here to stay, they will eventually revolutionize both the content and the processes of education. The remainder of this newsletter is designed to help all educators (including parents, teachers, school administrators, and teachers of teachers) understand that they need to develop a forward-looking philosophy of ICT in education that is designed to prepare today’s students for their futures.

Keep in mind the fact that children tend to build their own philosophies from those of the adults they interact with. One characteristic of a good (human) teacher or parent is being a good (human) role model.

Your Beliefs

I am an old timer in the field of Computers in Education, having spent more than 50 years working in this discipline (Moursund, 2002; Moursund, 2016a). Over these years, I have gradually developed a personal philosophy that helps to guide me in my teaching, writing, consulting, and presentations. I want to share some of my ICT ideas and philosophy with you, and I strongly encourage you to examine/develop your own personal philosophy of computers in education.

You undoubtedly have beliefs about education based on your upbringing, education, and life experiences. Here are some of mine:

I believe:
  • A good education is an appropriate balance between developing “people-oriented” knowledge and skills, and learning to make effective use of the tools people have developed to augment and increase our physical and cognitive capabilities. We solve problems and accomplish tasks through using a combination of the capabilities of people and the capabilities of the tools that people have developed.

  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and other technology-based change agents can be used to make major improvements in the world’s (and our country’s) educational systems.

  • All of the our world’s children deserve the opportunity to gain a high-quality education that includes learning to make effective use of routine access to the communication facilities and knowledge base provided by the Internet and Web.

  • Artificial Intelligence (including computerized robots and other tools) is a very powerful change agent. A modern education helps to prepare students for a life in which computerized tools perform or help to perform more and more of the jobs that human workers are currently performing. They will also play an increased role in our avocations and other aspects of our everyday lives.
I can easily expand my list of education-related beliefs. Over the years, in my professional career I have developed habits of mind that incorporate these beliefs. I hope that you will make your own list of education-related beliefs, giving special attention to roles of ICT in education. As you develop and come to understand the ramifications of your list, I hope that you will build your beliefs into a philosophy of education that serves both yourself and the students you help to educate.

Final Remarks

A person’s life is shaped by both nature (one’s genes) and nurture (informal and formal education; life experiences). For a newborn, most life experiences are new—they present opportunities to learn new things. Soon, however, an infant develops a knowledge and experience base, and this continues to grow throughout a lifetime. While a child’s perceived world continues to change from day to day, gradually there is less “new” and more “same o’, same o’”.

As most adults age, there is a gradual decrease in ability and/or desire and willingness to cope with change. Thus, for example, we see children mastering the learning of a second or third natural language, and learning to make relatively sophisticated use of new computer technologies, while many adults struggle in such endeavors.

A forward-looking educational system helps a student to learn and to develop habits of mind that will support lifelong learning. These habits of mind need to include a personal philosophy of lifelong learning to meet one’s changing personal needs as one becomes a responsible, contributing adult in our changing world.

Parents, guardians, and teachers serve as role models for children. I strongly encourage you to examine your personal philosophies of dealing with change and the role model you are setting for children and others.

At the end of each IAE Newsletter there is a Comments section that allows readers to share their ideas with other people. How well do you know and understand your own philosophy of education? As a teacher (remember, we are all lifelong teachers and lifelong learners) what do you do to help others to develop a philosophy of education and habits of mind that will best serve them and our world?

References and Resources

Moursund, D. (2016a). David Moursund. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 9/1/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/David_Moursund.

Moursund, D. (2016b). Quotations collected by David Moursund. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 11/20/2016 from http://iae-pedia.org/Quotations_Collected_by_David_Moursund.

Moursund, D. (November 30, 2016). Adding a 4th R to the 3Rs of education. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 12/1/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2016-198.html.

Moursund, D. (November 15, 2016). Ongoing and new world problems. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 11/16/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2016-197.html.

Moursund, D. (October 31, 2016). Striving to improve education. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 11/9/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2016-196.html.

Moursund, D. (October 15, 2016). Robert Branson’s upper limit hypothesis. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 11/5/2016 from http://i-a-e.org/newsletters/IAE-Newsletter-2016-195.html.

Moursund, D. (February, 2006). Developing a philosophy of computers in education. Northwest Council for Computers in Education. Retrieved 11/20/2016 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228414842_Developing_A_Philosophy
_of_Computers_in_Education
. And http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:jw3Vw0-TRNUJ:uoregon.edu/~moursund/dave/NCCE2006/Philosophy.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en
&ct=clnk&gl=us
.

Moursund, D. (2002). Information and communication technology in education: A personal perspective. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. Retrieved 9/18/2016 from http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss2/seminal/article2.cfm.


Author

David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and co-editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology. He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See http://iaepedia.org/David_Moursund_Books. In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and books. See http://iaepedia.org/Main_Page#IAE_in_a_Nutshell.


Email: moursund@uoregon.edu.

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About Information Age Education, Inc.

Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities and free materials include the IAE-pedia at http://iae-pedia.org, a Website containing free books and articles at http://i-a-e.org/, a Blog at http://i-a-e.org/iae-blog.html, and the free newsletter you are now reading. See all back issues of the Blog at http://iae-pedia.org/IAE_Blog and all back issues of the Newsletter at http://i-a-e.org/iae-newsletter.html.