Our use of digital technologies amplifies or constrains the possibilities of our communicative activities. Our communicative activities enhance, enable, and enrich our possibilities for connectivity free of the confines of geographic and chronographic limitations. Our connective activities make it possible for our society to enact new coalitions of citizens through network media. These coalitions are capable of influencing government policy, cultural formations, and individual sensibilities.
At present, our ability to understand the significance of our uses of digital technologies in terms of cognitive, cultural, and technological evolution, is being developed on an ad hoc basis through informal collaborative networks outside educational institutions. Educators, and the government and institutional structures that support them, are surprisingly unprepared to address the rapid evolution of human social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental life through our use of digital technology and our interactivity with digital technology. In fact, there are troubling indicators that the field of education is actually losing its capacity to develop ICT knowledge, skills, and interactivity. Given the magnitude of change in all human endeavours with regards to digital technology, surely the field of education can do better than distribute digital textbooks on an iPad or teach math concepts on an interactive whiteboard.
When we consider the magnitude of change accelerating at unprecedented rates in human knowledge generation, information access, and interactivity, it makes sense that we would need a commensurate level of leadership to prepare citizens for productive, socially responsible, democratic opportunities to participate in shaping the course of human civilization. At present, educators are not prepared to provide this leadership. The government policy-makers who oversee educational approaches to digital technology are not prepared to support educators’ ICT development. Educators need a concerted, sustainable, active approach to developing their understanding about ICT, particularly the presence and use of ICT in educational institutions. This development must go beyond incidental discussions about cyber-bullying, or using a powerpoint presentation to introduce a new unit on Ancient Egypt. This development must encompass the ways ICT can enable, enhance and enrich learning, but it must go further. It must prepare educators to provide leadership to succeeding generations of students to understand what it means to use ICT in our day to day lives, in our work lives, and in our lives as responsible citizens.
In order to do this, educators need the cognitive, cultural and technological skills to critically examine educational philosophy, policy, curriculum and pedagogy as it pertains to ICT in their professional practice. They need opportunities to develop their own ICT perspectives and practices, and use these ICT perspectives and practices to rationalize when, where, why, how, and what ICT is used in their teaching. They need opportunities to question both the basis for our uses of ICT in society, and the ways it can contribute to democracy, social justice, and sustainable human presence on this planet, they also need to be able to question the ways ICT is situated in educational institutions, and what they need to do to ensure all their students have equal access to develop their own ICT knowledge and skills, as well as a philosophical basis for their uses of their ICT knowledge and skills.