Structuring institutions to exploit learning technologies: a cybernetic model
Educational management is looking to Communication and Information Technologies (C&IT) to make education cheaper and maybe even more effective (e.g. Dealing, 1997). But despite over two decades of computer-based learning, and despite the still considerable faith in the future possibilities of C&IT, so far there is no evidence that this promise is anywhere near being realized. The reasons for this may be insufficient machines of adequate capability, a lack of training, inadequate networking and poor software. However, I believe that there is a more fundamental reason for its failure to make a significant impact: that the way education and its institutions are structured actively gets in the way of learning technology becoming effective. I suggest that the role of educational institutions is to connect learners with teachers, and that the teacher's purpose is to transform the world-views of the students. Rather than transmitters of knowledge, they are systems for managing learning conversations. Current forms of organization manage learning conversations in a particular way, which is inimical to the best use of learning technologies. C&IT offers an alternative way of managing learning, but which cannot be layered on top of existing organizational structures.