A few weeks ago I took part in an online discussion led by Stephen Heppell
on the Vital
website. Stephen Heppell is a very highkly regarded figure in the world of education and if you ever have a chance to listen to him speak or present, then I’d certainly suggest you do so. He is a speaker who inspires and provokes thought.
In the online discussion, Stephen asked why was it that ICT had not reduced the costs of education? Apart from Health and Education, ICT had been deployed and used to reduce the overhead costs or running costs of their users. I cannot speak for Health but I can for Education and I felt at first that this was an unfair question. After all, we started introducing technology into the classroom we did so not to reduce costs but to expand and improve the resources and experiences offered to learners. So to criticise us for not using ICT to reduce costs when that had never been our aim, did seem unfair.
Was it unfair, though?
A few days after the online discussion, I received in my inbox an email linking to this article about ICT for students with disabilities in developing countries
. In this article it suggests that students need ICT partly because it is cheaper than training and paying for a teacher. The inference being that ICT is a cheaper resource than a teacher and one which, possibly, better addresses the need of the students.
This would be quite a contentious argument here in the UK. How many people, schools or local authorities would welcome replacing teachers with computers, even if it reduces the bill?