Understanding e-Learning Technologies-in-Practice Through Philosophies-in-Practice


A note that the Second Edition of The Theory and Practice of Online Learning (edited by Terry Anderson) was now available online came through my reader this morning, and not having had the time the first time it came round, I made time to go through a few chapters today.

The one I want to highly recommend to EVERY educational technologist (and educator, for that matter) is the chapter by Heather Kanuka titled “Understanding e-Learning Technologies-in-Practice Through Philosophies-in-Practice.

Perhaps it is because I am a lapsed philosopher that this appeals to me, but I whole-heartedly agree with the notion put forth here that reflecting on one’s personal philosophies of education and technology is an important activity any of us involved in education and technology should undertake (along the lines of the ‘unexamined life not being worth living.’)

Kanuka lays out 3 general philosophies of technology (“uses determinism,” “technological determinism,” and “social determinism”) as well as 5 philosophies of education (“Liberal/Perennial,” “Progressive,” “Behaviourist,” “Humanist,”  and “Radical”) for us to consider.  It is entirely possible that none of these feel like a perfect fit for you, but they provide a good overview starting point to consider your own orientation(s).

Gotta run, but I’ll just end of a slightly facetious note that the conclusion of the paper (“Unless we can systematically identify what we value in education, we cannot justify the choices we make with e-learning technologies, or deliver the promises“) is in itself a philosophical position. While not one I necessarily disagree with, it would be easy to deconstruct the entire piece through that lens of the agency it presupposes. I too make that supposition, regularly, but contingently, always entering back into a dance with these other positions (or, in riposte to Aristotle, “the continually re-examined life is even more worth living”) – SWL

2 thoughts on “Understanding e-Learning Technologies-in-Practice Through Philosophies-in-Practice”

  1. I’m getting a 404 Not Found error on the links you posted 🙁 Sounds interesting though – I’ll keep an eye out for it.

Comments are closed.