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Dossier 13/12/2013

Learning/unlearning. On the crest of digital learning

For those who are interested - like the Digital Society Forum - in the relationship between technology and society, the question of learning is a textbook example. In this domain, as in so many others, trying to measure the actual effect of technologies on educational attainment leads nowhere.

In and of themselves, Information and Communication Technologies for Education (ICTEs) do not make teachers better educators, teach better or make society more knowledgeable. From blackboards, school bags, textbooks, and exercises to the teacher-learner relationship and learner exchanges, it is not just a question of replacing analogue tools with digital tools to, as if by magic, improve learning outcomes, remove educational inequalities and develop greater creativity. A great deal of energy and money invested in educational infrastructures and facilities have rapidly demonstrated their limitations. Guided by a naive technological determinism and driven by business interests, proactive equipment policies are undoubtedly less effective than those which focus on the learning, and if they do, they will give rise to new practices and the equipment and market will follow. The recent emergence of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) is a perfect example. These online video courses, published by top American Universities, are aiming to conquer the global market. However, this conquest will only succeed if we can flip the temporal and spatial organisation of learning i.e. learning alone at home and then practising in the classroom - a 180 degree about-turn from traditional teaching methods.

Looking at different approaches

New forms of learning are not to be found in technologies but in the transformation of the educational system they make possible. Rather than give a long list of educational technologies, this documents seeks to look at different approaches. By first examining the meteoric advancements in the knowledge of brain function that have taken place over the recent years. But what can we take away from our new neuroscientific knowledge about the learning process and how can it help inform and guide the provision of education? Looking at different approaches means examining how the digital transformation of our societies directly questions the way in which we learn and the place of knowledge in a range of increasingly varied social situations. How do we learn when educational establishments are no longer the main sources of knowledge? How do we educate when dispersion, distraction and the desire for immediacy characterise so many new network uses? The challenge is huge and requires in-depth examination, if we want to avoid a paralysing debate between nostalgic conservatives and zealous revolutionaries. Consider: technology can both enhance learning and unlearning and because the dividing line is unstable, fragile and incredibly sensitive to the human balance that makes up any educational situation, it is important for teachers to know how to guide their students wisely.
Digital technologies are radicalising a historical movement which started with the advent of the written word i.e. externalising knowledge as pointed out by Bernard Stiegler, using a term coined by Michel Foucault to describe ancient philosophies, digital technologies constitute a new form of hypomnemata: objects created by the artificialisation and externalization of the human memory. In counterpoint, individual amnesia has developed mnemonic hypomnesia techniques enabling us to deposit our memory in tools. From Wikipedia, to mp3 books, to lists of academic articles on Google Scholar, the 'technification' of our societies means that we are constantly exporting the knowledge in our brains to digital hypomnemata to free up our minds to perform higher cognitive activities. Never before has such a variety of knowledge - expert, trivial and false - been so readily accessible; only a click away for those who know how to navigate digital networks. Never before has knowledge been at the heart of so many professional, everyday, and entertainment activities resulting in the mass phenomenon of intellectualising our social lives.

What should we learn?

If knowledge is constantly and readily available on the Internet, do we still need to learn? We must "learn to learn" reply the educators who are not intimidated by the fact that students sometimes refer to Wikipedia in class to flag a factual error. Externalizing knowledge does not do away with the need to pass on and acquire knowledge, but surely it does makes education based on rote learning and the evaluation of schooling, obsessed with checking the transmission of information from the teacher to the student, somewhat obsolete. There is now room to learn, seek, appropriate, critique, and historicize knowledge in order to put knowledge to good use in a variety of contexts. Developing cross-cutting skills to find and activate the knowledge deposited in hypomnemata does not mean resolving practical questions by performing a Google search. Learning to interpret rather than store information assumes familiarity with the knowledge structure and requires our making sense of multiple, disparate and readily available information but which can not be organised and re-articulated without comprehensive and in-depth understanding. The educator, the "ignorant master", who does not transmit knowledge as content but constantly strives to ensure that the student directs his intelligence; this is something that requires attention, practice, critical concern and care at all times from the teacher. "Guidance" pedagogy, which patiently guides learners through the forest of digital knowledge ' must not give in to the devotees of knowledge content transmission. Learning to learn is not a trivial and functional task that devalues the role of the noble and omniscient teacher. It does not give free rein to learners by allowing them to fend for themselves, without rule or method, in the chaotic flow of digital information with so many distractions.
Emphasising this point means underling the fact that there is a risk of new digital learning methods espousing, without opposition, societal trends that can cause new inequalities. Three factors distinguish new educational requirements. The first concerns the need for individual and personalised teaching, which promotes the singularisation of creative potentialities and leads to lifelong learning. The second is the increasingly important role of collaborative actives and team work. All new teaching methods try to promote interaction and personalised contact between learners and between learners and educators. If the role of technology in learning were limited to reducing contact with students by installing them in a giant virtual lecture hall with a remote lecturer, then it has completely missed what is increasingly at the very heart of the learning processes: the existence of a living vital place where knowledge is shared and put into practice. Many innovative uses of digital pedagogy embrace all forms of communication - happy, curious and talkative - which transpire from networks of learners; this art of multiplying communication, cross-evaluations, multi-disciplinary exchanges between and joint projects. Even if they pose evaluation problems to teachers, accustomed as they are to giving individual marks, the development of collective frameworks directs the group's attention towards shared ownership and responsibility for their learning. Finally, the importance of the informal aspects of teaching, practical skills, gentle encouragement, incitements, guidance and praise, all these seemingly insignificant gestures that imbue the learning process with meaning and which give students a feeling of worth and recognition.
Digital natives arrive at school already competent in the use of computers and digital technologies. However, Petite Poucette, the inspirational fable written by Michel Serres, can be misleading. The rise of digital access to knowledge has clearly shown that each individual is his or her own teacher, therefore, it would be naive to assume that all free and emancipated peoples enjoy the same opportunities and resources to make the best possible use of this freedom. Initial feedback from participants on the use of American University MOOCs show that far from reducing social, cultural and geographical divides, MOOCS are mainly used by those with high-level qualifications and high incomes. The digital transformation of our societies is also contributing to a process of unlearning and the permanent risk of the "proletarianization of minds", highlights Bernard Stiegler: reading crisis, disqualification of knowledge, attention dispersion, bombardment of advertising, the tyranny of immediacy, lack of curiosity, etc. Many digital natives' practices clash with demanding academic learning. The fact that knowledge is readily available does not mean that it is internalised. Dumbed down, simplified and packaged, information can seem like a piece of merchandise to be used without truly being learned. The "knowledge society" promotes behavioural skills, navigating information flows, the race for innovation, the incessant renewal of consumption and the flexibility of employees. But does it really promote the development of critical thinking in institutions dedicated to this purpose where patient pedagogues ensure that all students have the same opportunities to access this free knowledge?

Digital manufacturing

There seems to be something missing from education policies; a digital education that is not content just to teach students how to use these technologies (e.g. b2i) but teach them how to manufacture digital. IT code has become the new alphabet of our societies, its language, its vehicle and its décor. How can we close this black box on admittedly agile users but users incapable of understanding its manufacture (not to mention modifying, improving and reinventing it)? Learning digital manufacture, understanding what lies behind interfaces and the user experience should be seen as a key skill in training critical and creative citizens. It is not a question of producing developers capable of mastering the most complex programming languages but rather ensuring that we understand the principles and can write and produce digital content. It is important to construct a society where each and every one of us is capable of digital manufacturing.

> How does the brain handle e-learning?
Is learning something from the internet the same as learning it from a book or directly from a person?

> E-learning – what does it change?
Education 2.0: dreaming of a new humanism! For a long time digital modernisation in higher education has been limited to ever more frequent waves of new computer tools.

> What is digital learning?
Computers may finally have made their way into the classroom, but the digital revolution has had little impact on teaching as yet.


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Franck Bret
Franck Bret 18/02/2020 13:00:49

je reviens sur ma question : y a t-il des liens entre la question de l'apprentissage numérique et la sociologie de l'éducation (voir : ) où des sociologues comme Anne Barrère parlent du capital culturel ou social pour expliquer les difficultés à l'école; où des sociologues comme Dubet ou Queiroz s'intéressent à la construction des personnalités au sein de l'institution scolaire .. bref il y a t-il une "nouvelle sociologie de l'éducation" portée par le numérique ?

Franck Bret
Franck Bret 03/01/2020 19:42:16

dans le dernier paragraphue il est question "d’une éducation au numérique" : l'article date de 2013 où la question était alors très présente. Qu'en est-il aujourd'hui en 2020 ? cela m'intéresse...

Adrian Altenburger
Adrian Altenburger 11/07/2019 07:14:42

L'IA et les technologies jouent de nombreux rôles dans l'éducation. Les programmes axés sur l'IA peuvent donner aux étudiants et aux éducateurs des informations utiles.
Ressources pour information:

Louis Lemarcq
Louis Lemarcq 15/05/2018 10:20:07

Effectivement avec la prépondérance d'internet et des nouvelles technologies le processus d'apprentissage se voit modifié en profondeur. Avec l'accès immédiat à l'information, on est même en droit de se demander si l'apprentissage est encore nécessaire tout court

Armelle Le Gall
Armelle Le Gall 06/01/2016 00:14:47

Article très intéressant, merci. Concernant le B2I, à une certaine époque, les élèves avaient à demander leur validation, au fur et à mesure qu'ils pensaient avoir compris/réussi un item. Cette démarche était intéressante, il est dommage qu'on ne l'ait pas conservée. Les risques sont grands en effet et nous devrons être vigilants pour que tous nos élèves réussissent. Les travaux de groupe masquent parfois de grandes disparités dans l'utilisation des outils numériques. Etre attentifs également au fait que l'apprentissage ne soit pas vertical, être persuadés que pour citer Zakhartchouk, "c’est ce que l’élève fait réellement qui importe", enfin échanger, partager, discuter, faire en sorte que l'élève s'approprie l'outil pour que le numérique tel qu'il est pratiqué en classe ne soit pas décroché de la réalité, de la vie, une "discipline scolaire", comme cela a pu se faire pour les livres et la littérature.

Benoit Nortier
Benoit Nortier 24/04/2014 10:08:11

Bonjour. Je partage le contenu de cet article que je vais très prochainement mettre en pratique dans mon entreprise. Toutefois, je reste plus réserver sur ce que vous appelez "Fabriquer le Numérique". En effet, il y a aujourd'hui un manque cruel de compétences dans le domaine du développement d'applications informatiques appliquées. Cela aurait dû être anticipé par les têtes pensantes qui nous dirigent mais ne l'a pas été fait. Ce sont les entrepreneurs (ex: X. Niel) qui réagissent et mettent en place les formations nécessaires. Mais, ce phénomène est à mon avis passager. Il faut faire en sorte que nous formions des jeunes susceptibles d'effectuer les développements informatiques dont nous aurons besoin dans le futur, c'est indéniable. Mais tous les jeunes ne sont pas destinés à développer du code. En fait, le besoin de développer des applications que nous connaissons actuellement sera de moins en moins prégnant. Nous utiliserons des modules de logiciel à assembler ensemble pour construire quelque chose. De plus, hier comme demain, un plombier n'aura pas besoin de faire du code mais de savoir par contre utiliser les outils mis à sa disposition pour développer son activité et éviter de se faire attaquer via les réseaux sociaux par exemple. Il faut apprendre aux jeunes à utiliser les outils à bon escient, en fonction de la finalité qu'ils en attendent et pas tous azimut comme aujourd'hui. Il faut aussi les sensibiliser sur les dangers des outils du web et les conséquences de leurs publications d'aujourd'hui pour leur avenir professionnel et personnel.

Jerome Clerc
Jerome Clerc 13/02/2014 09:30:21

les TICE sont efficace pour apprendre uniquement si le C de communication existe réellement

Stéphane Guédon
Stéphane Guédon 13/02/2014 09:30:12

Je me suis régalé, même si j'ai toujours autant de mal à me concentrer sur un écran ! l'age sans doute. Je rejoint l'analyse concernant l'ouvrage de Michel Serre, accèder à la connaissance ne suffit pas à faire les ponts. Je susi toujours émerveiller que la jointure entre une automaticien et un pshycologue est donnée naissance au nouveau paradigme de la systémique ! sans un minimum de connaissance on ne sait même pas par où commencer à chercher ! j'utilise de plus en plus la philo dans mon travail de tout les jours, mais il m'a fallu lire le banquet de Platon intégralement ... riche d'enseignement sur notre capacité à utiliser la langue de bois ou les poncifs , au jour le jour, sur nos projets ... Aucune clef de recherche ne m'aurait été utile pour trouver cela ! Là où j'attend beaucoup du numérique c'est dans la capacité à simuler par le jeu. Des cours de gestion de projet, devenir PMO ? Jouez, à civilization ! En agile nous utilisons le jeu pour former et acquérir de l'expérience, le numérique pourrait ouvrir des portes merveilleuses sur ce point surtout pour des équipes multisites !

Françoise Mongellaz-Lombard
Françoise Mongellaz-Lombard 12/02/2014 12:10:02

Super article que je ferai lire à mes petits-enfants. Apprendre est essentiel, savoir écouter, regarder, échanger est très primordial.

Marjorie Soutric
Marjorie Soutric 06/02/2014 16:47:48

Passionnant et très juste, merci pour cet article enrichissant.

Rémi Moebs
Rémi Moebs 05/01/2014 21:50:37

Bonjour, excellent article, qui me fait penser à un autre qui présentait "l'école inversée", où on voit que l'apprentissage autorise le droit au "replay" quand on n'a pas bien compris, un des écueils majeurs du système d'enseignement actuel, sans feedback
le lien :

Philippe Clavaud
Philippe Clavaud 18/12/2013 14:30:58

@Christophe : absolument d'accord avec vous, un article de référence sur le sujet. L'auteur est Dominique Cardon (signature en fin d'article sur laquelle vous pouvez cliquer pour en savoir plus sur lui), il est sociologue et un des animateurs du projet Digital Society Forum.

Christophe Vaillon
Christophe Vaillon 17/12/2013 22:26:20

Un grand merci pour cet article absolument passionnant ! Je m'y retrouve pleinement, et l'auteur a bien plus de talent que moi pour formaliser ce que je ressens confusément. Bravo ! Mais qui est l'auteur ? (job, expérience).

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