April 5, 2012
04:00PM - 06:00PM
Annenberg School for Communication, Room 109
3620 Walnut Street
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It has become clear that technology makes a real difference to education only under certain conditions, and the problem has become to identify not just what works, but what makes what works work. The usual constraints on adoption of innovations are operative, but education is a very special case involving a resilient ecology on which innovations brought from the outside are seldom able to leave a significant mark. The key then perhaps is to work from the inside, to colonize pre-existing tools and practices and reroute them towards educational goals.
In formal school systems of advanced countries, this is a complex process which, though extensively studied and experimented, eludes our understanding. Things look more hopeful in the case of out-of-school education in developing countries. Still, we cannot assume that any old bright idea is going to work: we must try and assess its chances beforehand. So basic research is necessary, but so is translational research. Medicine may have some lessons in this regard.
Daniel Andler’s group, allied to a major publisher of traditional educational material, has drafted a project to use mobile phones in francophone Africa to teach French where people live and work. Dr. Andler will describe the project and use it as an illustration of a colonizing strategy which shows promise elsewhere, focusing on why it might work if it does work.
Daniel Andler is a logician and philosopher of science specializing in the foundations of cognitive science. A professor of philosophy at Sorbonne, he has been active in the construction of cognitive science in France, and created the Department of Cognitive Studies at École normale supérieure in Paris. An experienced teacher of mathematics, then philosophy, he got interested in the question of what cognitive science could bring to education and to the use of technology for educational purposes. In 2006 he founded Compas, an interdisciplinary think-tank, where this question is explored in the wider philosophical, political, economical and cultural context of educational change in the global society.
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