Technology in education

An essay about pros, cons and challenges

Essay, 2005
22 Pages, Grade: A




Finding an appropriate definition
What is technology in higher education?
Examples for technolgy in higher education
Advantages of use of technology within educational settings (pros)
Motivating effects on students
Technology may support collaboration
Easy access to almost anything
Low cost, highly efficiently
Disdvantages of use of technology within educational settings (cons)
Pressure on non-users
Dominance of technology over didactics
Human interaction is mediated by using technology in education
Historically minimal effects
Further commercializing of education
Not all students having access to new technologies
Challenges if using technology within educational settings (challenges)
The human factor keeps beeing the one making the difference
Producing kind of compatiblity and support for all levels of competence in technology
Constant raising of competence in technology of all individuals
Freedom of choice and non-choice
Not just for the sake of using it
Braveness to stop
Justification of perspective
Neither Good nor Bad
It depends on



Technology – having been seen as evil and promise the same time the truth probably lying somewhere in the middle. Similar might be the situation if it comes to the question of how the role of technology is considered within educational settings. Such consideration is the purpose of this research paper. To do so the term technology in education is distinguished from the term educational technoloy/technologies as well as technology education. As soon it is clear what we are talking about the pros and cons – and the challenges – can be discussed, and will be discussed.



I am admitting: I am a fan of all technology (almost a technology geek), especially whenever used in educational settings. I used to publish about contemporary educational research with but meanwhile stopped doing so and keeping an online diary (lifelog) which is of much more private nature (the platform I am using now is a German one as German is my native language and called diary-z). Also I gained my first academic degree via distance education having included excessive use of technology (e.g. seminars via a BSCW server, mailing lists, weblogs) and trying to gain my Doctoral degree that way as well. On the way I learnt to design courses with WebCT, to use a variety of authoring tools (e.g. EasyProf 2.6.1, Mediator 7, Javanti, TurboDemo and ViewletBuilder) and studied the functions of BSCW and ILIAS in depth, both of them being learning platforms.

Taking this background into account the reader might understand that it was a lot easier for the author to list and explain the pros. Nevertheless there are some cons indeed which cannot be neglected at all. Why otherwise should have been Great Britain’s E-Univesity such a flop? The ambitions were high as an article[1] written by David Walker in 2000 and published in the Chronicle of Higher Education proofs: This university “will help realize a promise by Prime Minister Tony Blair -- to enroll at least half the country's young people in higher education by the time they are 30 years old”, “the e-university will appeal to the large number of British high-school students who graduate but do not enter college, a figure that is estimated to be 80,000 annually”, and an world-class provider with globla reach (term used by Brian Fender, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council) will be established. The outcome was pretty different. Though founded in 2000 the first courses were as late as 2003 available, just 900 students being this interested in that they were willing to enroll in the end. This situation resulted in costs of approximately 60K USD per student – even a bit more if compared to the average costs being spend for a student immatriculated in Oxford or Cambridge. As almost no private funding could be raised, no money is available and even the website is not working anymore[2]. (Roth 2005)

The question arising being confronted with such information is: Are we really ready for a virtual education? Or is it vice versa: virtual environments are not ready (sophisticated and easy to use at the same time) for effective use by humans?

To find out more about this question technology in edcation will be defined and the pros and cons as well as challenges discussed in the following sections.

Finding an appropriate definition

What is technology in higher education?

Before discussing the pros, cons and challenges of technology use in (higher) education some appropriate defenition of technology in higher education has to be found as the concepts of technology in education, educational technologies and technology education in particular by non academics and/or non English native speakers (probably due to the fact that all three of them sound quite similar) are often mixed up. To distinguish the three aforementioned terms a definition of all three of them is given in the following paragraph.

Educational technologies

Newby, Stepich, Lehman, and Russell (2000), define educational technology (though they use the term "instructional technology") being anything which "translates and applies basic research on human learning to produce instructional design principles and processes as well as hardware products that teachers and students can use to increase learning effectiveness" and thus educational technologies is therefore not just all kinds of objects (even books, filmstrips and videos) but also processes (such as teaching skills and teaching techniques) (Marshall 2000).

Technology education

Technology education is education the subject of is technology. “Different countries use different terms to describe technology education, such as technics, design and technology, technology education, and technological education. […] Regardless of the term used, the universal goal is to help students to become technologically literate.” (Rasinen 2003). Also, the Technology Education Lab’s definition for their instructional program reads like a definition for technology education: It shall “prepare students to be knowledgeable about technology - its evolution, systems, technologies, utilization, and social and cultural significance. It results in the application of mathematics and science concepts to technological systems in areas such as, but not limited to: construction, manufacturing, communications, transportation, biotechnology, and power and energy. Students are challenged to discover, create, solve problems, and construct solutions by using a variety of tools, machines, computer systems, materials, processes and technological systems.”[3] Meanwhile the main part of technology education is information technology education indeed due to the rise of information technologies during the recent years.



[2] which is

[3]; date of access: 28 March 2005.

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Technology in education
An essay about pros, cons and challenges
Atlantic International University
Technology in Education
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Technology, Education
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Monika E. König (Author), 2005, Technology in education, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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