Cyberized Education: The Six Levels of Change

Cyberized Education: The Six Levels of Change


Higher education has become cyberized -- fundamentally dependent on online and other digital technologies the way that it more or less entirely depends on electricity at present. Education which does not take advantage of digital resources, tools, and delivery modes has already become as outdated as a traditional education would be without books, pencils, and blackboards.

The cyberization of education is happening on several distinctly important levels (see figure below). On the three more basic levels, digital technologies serve as resources for our lives, our learning, and our education. On the three more advanced levels, digital technologies serve as a means of delivering formal education -- for information, communication, and enterprise management, for instruction, and for the improvement of teaching and learning. These six levels can be briefly described as follows:

  1. Life resource refers to the informal use of digital technologies to communicate, socialize, entertain, network, and inform. Digital resources have become an integral part of the culture. The learning which happens on this level is incidental learning.
  2. Learning resource refers to the informal use of digital technologies with the intent to learn something. Learning on this level is intentional but unconnected to any educational experience.
  3. Education resource refers to the use of digital technologies as information or knowledge sources for activities related to formal education, for example completion of individual homework assignments or collaborative work with fellow students on school projects. A digital resource can be explicitly designed to support academic learning, or simply be useful for that purpose. Learning on this level is intentionally applied to an educational experience.
  4. Information, communication, & management delivery refers to formal education’s use of online technologies for information, communication, and management. Notable examples include school web sites, email communication via institutionally-sponsored and maintain email addresses, learning management systems (LMSs), the use of information technology for enterprise management, and the use of online technologies to deliver student support services such as tutoring, advising, library, etc.
  5. Instructional delivery refers to formal education’s use of online technologies for teaching and learning. Online and most blended education happen at this level.

Improved teaching and learning is an emerging development which refers to cyberization as supporting the evolution of education beyond current quality levels.

The distinctions between these levels are important for several reasons -- more on that in the next post...

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