Ana Jurema and Maureen O'Rourke
Federal University of Alagoas International Connectivity & Capacitation (ICC Australia, Brazil, USA)
This paper argues that Information Technology (IT needs to be demystified, through critical consciousness, for educators to focus on IT as a means to enhance learning. It goes on to define the technical, sociohistorical and political-ideological levels of IT and to identify four theoretical constructs: tutorial, machine-as-human, tool kit and catalyst. Pervading these constructs is the understanding that IT can be used as an ideological agent, which is crucial if we are to connect theoretical foundations with practice. The authors list the foundational premises for a pedagogy of informatics and give practical examples, which emphasize a process of capacitation. Capacitation refers to an ongoing, active process where teachers work together and become empowered and energized through deep collaboration.
Keywords: IT literacy, collaboration, capacitation, critical consciousness, pedagogy of informatics.
What does Information Technology (IT) mean for educators and students and how do we prepare students for this time of technology proliferation? Too often we see the focus on technology itself, rather than the pedagogical issues and actual purposes for which IT can be used in schools. IT winds up on center stage, shrouded in mystique, and coupled with promises to deliver untold benefits to those who leap onto the bandwagon. How can we, as educators, demystify the use of computers and ensure that information technology is being used to deepen and enhance learning? What concepts and understandings are involved in preparing students and educators to think and act in a high tech society?
We believe it is necessary to develop a political, educational, and moral sense of direction in relation to IT use in schools, in addition to increasing proficiency in using related technologies. It is necessary to develop a pedagogy which encompasses a careful consideration of the problems we face as a high-tech society and the role schools should play.
We build upon the concepts of Paulo Freire ( 1985), who saw literacy as a process enabling people to be in control and active in their lives instead of acted upon by social, political, and economical forces. IT literacy is therefore far more than learning the skills necessary to use hardware and software. It involves understanding the role IT plays in society, questioning the purposes for which IT is used, understanding how IT intervenes in our lives and relations with others, and being able to choose when and which IT tools are appropriate for a task or problem at hand. IT literacy must prepare learners to increasingly act with more awareness and security in a high tech world as a result of organizing "a more precise form of thinking through a problematical vision of their world and a critical analysis of their experience" ( Freire, 1985, p. 14). We agree with Freire that literacy involves understanding life in a way that couldn't be seen before, "a kind of consciousness awakening . . . a critical comprehension of experience" that contributes to a process of "liberation" (pp. 16-17).
IT literacy therefore involves developing a criti consciousness which enables us to make inform