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1.0 Definition of terms

2.0 Introduction and overview
3.0 Methodology
3.1 Quantitative questionnaire
3.2 Structure

Main Body

4.0 Education
4.1 Subject links.
4.2 Formal education.
4.3 Perception of education.

5.0 Education and Technology

5.1 The internet and Media.
5.2 Early technological education.
5.3 Communications and knowledge management.
5.4 Formal IT trust.

6.0 Computing and Accessibility

6.1 Internet freedom.
6.2 Information access.
6.3 Multi-media education.

7.0 Education and distance learning theory

7.1 Distance learning.
7.2 Autonomy.
7.3 Globalisation.
7.4 Information Censorship.
7.5 Cyber communities
7.6 E-learning adoption.

8.0 Conclusions and recommendations


9.0 Bibliography

10.0 Appendices
10.1 Appendix A
10.2 Appendix B
10.3 Appendix C

1.0 Definition of terms

Before going further, I need to define some terms as used in the

context of this report.

"Education" is the process of educating or being educated.

"Educate" is to give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to, or to

give training in or information on a particular subject.
"Educated" is to have undergone education: educated people, or is
characterized by or displaying qualities of culture and learning, or is
based on some information or experience.

"Educating" is to develop the faculties and powers of (a person) by

teaching, instruction, or schooling, or to qualify by instruction or training
for a particular calling, practice, etc.

"Educator" is a person or thing that educates, i.e. a teacher, principal, or

other person/thing involved in planning or directing education.

2.0 Introduction and Overview

This report has been compiled and constructed from specific

observations about the stagnation and weakening of education reform
within the UK, in the hope of detecting patterns and irregularities which
will hopefully provide a guide in highlighting areas of missed opportunity
related with online communications. There have been various government
initiatives which have looked at reforming education and the manner in
which education is financed, but internet communications, a central
theme to the modern life style, have not received the attention I believe
they warrant.

The UK has undoubted strengths when it comes to an ability to

compete in knowledge economies. It has a long history in education and
technological expertise, both of which are areas of economic stability and
expansion for the future. Having ascertained that a perceptively
inanimate object or system can fit the formal interpretation of an
“educator” it is perhaps logical to assume therefore that those who are
educated by an educator are in some form “educated”, but to what
degree? And does that make a systemic network of computational
interface and communication (the internet), a valid form of education?
And if so, are the internet technologies being used effectively? Is form
following desired function for the internet? What are the moral / actual
implications when allowing or denying access to information and
knowledge? What are the relevant theories and vested interests when
dealing in these areas? This report is aimed at bringing together an
innovative hypotheses that can be explored and used to inform any
conclusions and theories that evolve.

“Enterprise that fails to be sufficiently creative is simply pouring more

energy into prolonging yesterday’s ideas. Creativity, properly employed,
carefully evaluated, skilfully managed and soundly implemented, is a key
to future business success – and to national prosperity.”

Sir George Cox- The Cox Review.

We can therefore ask the question: is this being achieved within the
higher architectures of education and internet communications?

3.0 Methodology

To achieve the above aims a combination of approaches has been

employed to yield as innovative a conclusion as possible. Any information
required came from considered and appropriate sourcing, taking into
account the various source attributes. This has previously been analysed
in the literature review preparatory work in leading up to this report. This
wide consultation incorporated a main substrate of secondary sourcing
which provided the informed thinking required to delve into this deep
and multi-faceted topic. A range of mediums have been used to assess
each topic area and to gather required data. Where secondary sourcing
was lacking, specifically in the areas of public opinion, a survey was
carried out, gauging public opinion to information technology in society.

3.1 Quantitative questionnaire

The quantitative data collected for this study consisted of a

questionnaire, which was handed to 100 individuals to assess public
perception of information providers and educators within society (please
see Appendices A & B for charted summary and example form). The
survey involved twenty parents, ten male and ten female from a cross
section of background and age groups, aiding toward gathering as
accurate data as possible. In understanding and gauging this public
perception a complementary approach was implemented, involving both
quantitative and qualitative research. All field research remained objective
and ethical, and as such adopted a standard no name policy and
participant permissions.

3.2 Structure

Due to the complex and challenging topic at hand the report follows
three main themes: Education, Communication and Knowledge. After
extensive research and literature reviews it became apparent that the
bulk of information for the purpose of answering the effective use of the
internet technologies in education could be obtained from a variety of
available secondary resources. Secondary source literature was used as
an appropriate foundation for the bulk of the research, and due to the
expansive nature of the topic data was sourced from a wide variety of
areas and mediums to supply the most innovative insights possible. For
up to date accuracy the intent has been to incorporate a variety of
electronic mediums in the research, and all statements have tried to be
supported by a source to avoid an overly opinionated report.

Main body
4.0 Education

Education has taken many leaps and turns in its history, some big
and some small; even the manner of differentiating macro and micro or
right or wrong is a perception of an educated population. Education has
several meanings, predominant of these being, “information being sort
and acquired for the development of mental and physical abilities
(learning to know)” (Concise Oxford dictionary, 2007), this is accepted as
the primary interpretation, and is to be taken as true for the purposes of
this report. However, education has taken on several other meanings in
recent years, predominate of which is a shorthand for a kind of formal
schooling or hierarchical certification for a class of ability.

Education is an organic subject, a continuously mobile mix of

evolving, learning, teaching, adaption and creation. It is the subject and
study of making both intangible and tangible things understandable and
communicable. The Oxford Dictionary definition of education describes
“the process of educating or being educated”, so the discussion
immediately falls into two categories of the “educator” and those being
“educated”. It continues to call it “an enlightening experience in an
informal context” but what does that make the formal kind of education,
which is the main stay of modern society? Well it fails to mention a
precise view, but goes on to discuss further possible meanings of the
term as the “theory and practice of teaching”, or the “information about
or training in a particular subject”.

4.1 Subject links

The use of subject as a means to climb the limitless expanse of

knowledge is a vital human tool. By defining boundary to a topic and/or
subject one becomes capable of charting, mapping and communicating
the never-ending unknown. This helps a person to conceptualise and
understand something which is otherwise incommunicable. There are
usually a set of rules associated and related to the various subject
characteristics, these are then applied in education to define subject
boundaries. However this process comes with a variety of ever present
dilemmas which frequently manifest on the boundaries between subjects,
e.g. the diversification of quantum mechanics from physics. Due to the
rule assumptions built around the concepts of subject, physicians
realised that rules in the physical taken as fact were not entirely accurate
in the physics of the very small, and so they further divided physics into
yet another subject quantum physics/ quantum mechanics and so on.
This ‘subject’ then often goes through a process of departmentalisation,
which further divides up subject into academic tribes and territories until
it finally meets those being educated in a completely fragmented and
abstracted form, from what it once was and/or really is. Subject is not a
thing itself, it is a perception of a thing. The internet on the other hand
has afforded the unique ability for content to form links, this has brought
rise to what the public uses day in and day out with tools such as the
Wiki, social networking and search engines. These use a set of pre-
programmed ‘parameters’ to locate - not necessarily along the lines of
subject - but along the lines of basically any thing the programmer
wants. From similar words or pictures in the document, to previous
search history preferences or any other content ‘parameter’ related
search. This therefore has afforded the opportunity to not only learn by
limiting subject alone but by any set of ‘parameters’ or interests that the
user prefers.

4.2 Formal Education

Before we start to discuss what constitutes an effective use of online

communications we must first understand the context of education in the
UK and the history that it follows. The division of subject and motivation
behind departmentalisation will form the bed rock of future discussion of
education, so it is important to be clear when it comes to what we mean
by modern formal teaching.

So what is the education knowledge transfer agenda? The modern

systems for education in the UK are primarily based on a comprehensive
scheme (all inclusive). As Spartacus Educational 2008 states, “The 1944
Education Act provided universal free schooling in three different types of
schools: grammar, secondary modern and technical. Rab Butler hoped
that these schools would cater for the different academic levels of
children. Entry to these schools was based on the 11 plus examination”.
However many educational experts were opposed to the idea of selection
at eleven years old and argued that secondary modern schools were
providing a second-class education. Some Local Education Authorities
experimented with the idea of creating comprehensive schools designed
to provide an education for children of all abilities.

“Although initially hostile to these schools, by the 1960s Harold

Wilson’s Labour Party supported plans to phase out grammar schools.
Following the 1964 General Election, the new Labour Government
instructed all local authorities to prepare plans for the creation of
comprehensive schools, either by amalgamation or the building of new
schools. This policy was also accepted by Conservative governments and
by 1990 the majority of grammar schools had been turned into
comprehensives or had become independent”, (Spartacus Educational,
2008), which is true to this day.

More recently there has been a battle of wills between the perceptions
of modern educationalists dealing with the level of educational access
which should be granted to the general population. This is an important
ideological battle which is particularly prevalent in the Labour party on
the grounds of moral stance and the right of access to a higher level of
education. In modern Labour governments there has been a tension
between the early Fabians politicians who saw educational reform in
terms of economic efficiency, and the ethical socialists whose vision of a
more moral society stressed the importance of a social justice in
education. This balance has been ever more leaning in favour of the early
Fabians ideologies, and the turning of profit out of education, in fact the
knowledge and technological based industries are now some of Britain’s
biggest earners.

The Prime Minister’s council on trade and industry states: “The source
of technology is science that is rooted in knowledge. The recent World
Development Report highlights the importance of knowledge in the
progress of a nation's economy. Developed economies have abundant
resources of knowledge workers; this poses a significant barrier to entry
for developing economies. We are in the era of knowledge-based
competition – and the progress of our economy will depend on how best
we can leverage our intellectual capital. We have amongst the richest
potential resources as far as intellectual capital is concerned. We need to
find ways of harnessing this resource to bring about sweeping changes in
industry and in society at large.”(Prime ministers council on trade and
industry website, 2008).
In the past decade this political ideology and lure of control over the
population, evolved into very high levels of privatisation, bringing ever
wider divide and segregation in access to education. This was specifically
prevalent after the abolition of university grants in 1993 and the resulting
1997 Blair “The third way" speeches. A variety of individuals following the
situation questioned how much has the reality matched the rhetoric of
radical change?

“There is no doubt that there has been a major financial investment.

Whether the money has been wisely spent is another question - with the
government now spending almost £1.2bn on education every week, and
little if any change in results.” (Coughlan, S, BBC News education report,

This profit based motive in education has left nothing to the

imagination, going as far as turning schools into businesses, via the
privatisation of state schools in 2005 where businesses where allowed to
buy into schools as an investment.

“Schools Minister David Milliband demonstrated the Government's

adoration of business involvement in schools when he declared that every
FTSE company ought to become a sponsor for state secondary
schools.”(Workers liberty website, 08).

The businesses eventually tied the hands of the ‘super schools’ in

contracts designed to drip the colleges dry, one example with truly
controversial results was, “a college in County Durham which after
receiving initial funding for new rooms and equipment had to stop using
rooms because it was being charged £15 a go to change light bulbs and
couldn’t afford the costs.”(Galan, J.BBC News web, Feb 06).
4.3 Perception of education

So how do students and the public view education? There have been
several surveys examining the perception of distance education in recent
years. One such survey is Daugherty and Funke’s investigation of
perspectives of university faculty and students currently involved in one
medium of distance education, i.e Web-based instruction. Students and
faculty were surveyed on the advantages, disadvantages, and general
effectiveness of using the Internet as a teaching and learning tool.
Daugherty and Funke remarked from their research, “Findings indicated
that the student benefits included (a) meaningful learning of technology
through the integration of course content and computer applications, (b)
increased access to the most current and global content information
available, (c) increased motivation, and (d) convenience. Faculty reported
a wide range of challenges in the development and delivery of Web-based
instruction. The most frequently identified barriers included (a) lack of
technical support, (b) lack of software/adequate equipment, (c) lack of
faculty/administrative support, (d) the amount of preparation time
required to create assignments, and (e) student resistance. In addition,
faculty respondents consistently identified convenience and improved
learning as advantages for students enrolled in Web-based instruction.”
(Daugherty, M. & Funke, B. L.1998).

The benefits of the internet and the depreciation in the use of

classical ‘formal forms’ of education can be seen throughout the UK, the
School Library Association have, for instance, remarked on several
occasions of a massive reduction in book loans and use of services: “The
average number of books in secondary school libraries was just 8 per
pupil” almost half CILIP's (Chartered Institute of Library and Professionals)
recommended figures. They go on to say that “On average pupils in
secondary schools only borrowed one book each per term and that 85%
of secondary schools reported that expenditure on the library in 2006-07
was around the same or lower than the previous year”( School library
association website, 2007). However this is a highly contested topic
with many parties having sensitive vested interests, Booktrust, who are a
major representative for the industry, say effective school libraries are the
best way of giving children from all backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy
books. It added, "Where there is a dedicated library space, pupil access to
it is often restricted by limited opening hours, which impinges on
independent reading and borrowing.” Various media bodies have also
commented that, "Many primary schools do not seem to know how to
manage their school library effectively even if they have the resources
available” (Clark, L, The Daily Mail Archive). Another article printed in
the Daily Mail by Sarah Harris (Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008) entitled “Log on
for your lessons” (Appendix C) discusses the failing education system and
the plight of a “growing number of parents who are now opting out of
state education in favour of alternative methods of educating their
children”. The article continues to say, “The internet has played a major
role in fuelling the boom; allowing parents to download teaching
materials.” Learning institutions have now taken this to a new level with
the Open University about to launch the Practice-based Research in
Educational Technology (Feb. 2008). An international online
masters-level course, within an online tutor group, course
participants develop skills in locating, understanding and
critically assessing research studies. They examine
associated theories, ethics, epistemology and even the
relationships between research, technology, policy and