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Education and Network Culture

John Pickering, Department of Psychology

Editors Note

It is particularly interesting to read this paper as it was written nearly 10 years ago and in it, the author predicted some of the technological changes that would occur in the forthcoming decade. Reflecting on some of these predictions now allows us to analyse the progress made and consider the impact of these developments. In his article, John Pickering expressed concern about the pressures on staff to learn new technological skills – particularly when this process and the subsequent development of new materials is often very time consuming. He envisaged ‘technophobia’ in staff faced with teaching students entirely competent with computers having grown up using them. However, the future was not all bleak. The vast array of knowledge easily available to users through the internet was likely to result – John predicted – in a remarkable shift in the traditional teacher-centred model of learning. Students and teachers could each bring new knowledge to a subject leading to a more collaborative learning experience. Whether this development is occurring in the classroom is an interesting issue to ponder. Despite the impact of technological advances in education, John was very clear that teaching “should remain person to person”. For staff involved in planning, developing or evaluating educational technologies the article provides an important message. Whilst technological advances might be alluring, fascinating and impressive, one should consider their role carefully and ensure that they are not replacing key elements of the learning experience – that is people, and the communication between them.

First appeared in Interactions Issue 1 Spring 1997