What digital education? By RebeccaWho

The Freshers are back! It got us thinking… Digital education, do we do it right? We’ll be hosting a digital education debate with actual experts who know what they’re talking about  on the 10th October, in the meantime, here are @RebeccaWho‘s thoughts on the matter:

“I’ve got beef with education full stop. It’s all done wrong. Never mind digital.

Let’s start at the beginning: School. As much as teachers like to harp on about the about different ways people learn. Do they put this into practice? Hardly. We’re NOT addressing the needs of the individual. You know what else we’re not doing very well? Basics. Geography for example, I remember learning about the Central Business District in great detail, yet we were taught diddly squat about where countries are. I live in the CBD, don’t tell me about that, tell me about Ulan Bator. Then I might have more of a chance of not looking stupid in a pub quiz.

Also, a lot of school was just learning facts. We don’t need to learn all of those facts any more – we have Google now. Wouldn’t it be better to teach analysis techniques and research methods so when we get all of the information (from Google) We’re able to understand how to use it properly and are fully equipped to think about what it all means?

Then let’s move onto the digital aspect. When I started university, I had to do an Art and Design Foundation year. On my first lesson of the “computing” module, we were thought how to turn our computers on and send an email. Some had trouble with it, these people had been to college. I don’t know how they made it this far.

It’s not cool the way that we’re taught specific programmes, instead we should be taught the basics of how to use a computer. Once that’s embedded then everything else becomes easier. It’s how I taught my Mum, and that seems to be going well.

Then looking at maintenance. Your average kid won’t know their RAM from their ROM or how and why to defragment their drive – problem is, the teachers probably won’t know either.

And what about security and internet safety? While your kids are being told how to create an excel spreadsheet and make a powerpoint presentation, they’re also posting dubious pictures to their open facebook page, downloading dodgy software (with FREE virus!!) and responding to questionable emails about winning a car… No joke. You think people don’t fall for those things, but they totally do. I can’t name names, but someone younger than me, who should know better thought he’d been given 10,000,000 Ugandan Dollars. I’m not even lying.

By the time people reach university everyone’s at completely different levels which causes problems too. I was on the first year of my full degree course being taught Photoshop from scratch. At. Degree. Level. We all know Photoshop by now right? I looked around for support but my fellow students were sat looking confused at their computer screens bashing the keys with their Neanderthal like fists and dribbling*. I wanted to poke my eyes out… instead I just taught myself flash, slightly less painful.

To sum up, the future is full of digital stuff. And it’s changing all of the time. If you get people used to using technology it’ll be easier for them to adapt and fully understand the implications of their actions.

That’s all.


*They weren’t really dribbling.”


If you have any thoughts on Digital Education and want to do a guest blog, let us know! Tickets for the debate on the 10th October 2011 are available here.

  • MrRoyC

    You’re confusing state education as a concept, with specific skills teaching/learning. As a result you can’t formulate precise conclusions.

    Organised State Education, broadly speaking, began with the establishment of School Boards ( and thus Board Schools) by the Education Act of 1870. Why ? To invest in generating a semi-literate, semi-numerate workforce for a manufacturing economy, and thus contribute a return on the investment via profitability. The system could generate white-collar and blue-collar. Now the model of the economy has changed to one of Service not Manufacturing, but the model of the State Education system has not. Who needs fucking blue-collar these days?. And how has the notion of what skills a white-collar needs changed ? The needs have certainly changed, the mode and model of delivery have not. It’s still prescriptive, formulaic process aimed squarely at ticking boxes to award certificates. The names of the certificates have changed, the means of getting them has not. That’s why the compulsory education sector delivers a majority of people unfit for either work or progress to post-compulsory Higher-Ed. That’s why you had to sit there whilst I started everyone off on page 1 Photoshop; I couldn’t (can’t) assume that everyone had basic key skills.

    But more worryingly than that, I can’t even assume that everyone has basic communication/literacy/numeracy or (for want of a better word) philosophical skills to place themselves in the context of where they are on their personal development journey. So, in short, the compulsory state education system benefits few people other than those employed by it.

    Turning to specific skills learning (you call it ‘digital’, I call it tool appropriation; who gives a fuck about digital, I’ve been working with digital tools since 1985, it’s nothing new just because some Nathan Barley-esque fuckwit wants to call themselves a Digital Designer in 2011), that’s entirely different and bound up in a triangular relationship of skills/philosophy/deployment, where the ability to make appropriate selection of available tools, and deploy them in pursuit of fit-for-purpose activity, is the mark of ability.

    We currently make use of a number of digital technology tools and devices. It won’t always be that way. That’s the nature of technology. I used to earn a part-living by setting up Comms networks based on dial-up, low-baud modems. Do you think I could do that now ? I also used to make a part-living as a photographer. Do you think I could still do that now ? In this debate topic you seem to be placing an over emphasis on ‘skilling-up’, but that’s only one part of the story.

    We don’t need Digital Education, we need an overhaul of what we understand we require from Education full-stop, and how best to devise and deliver that. I learnt more creative and design skills from being trained as a painter than I ever have from fucking about with technology tools.

    Oh, and I told you never to mention to anybody about those fucking 10,000,000 Ugandan Dollars. It read like a genuine e-mail.

    *Yes they were really dribbling

  • http://www.francesbell.wordpress.com Frances Bell

    I agree with much of what you say above Rebecca. I don’t know so much about what is happening in schools but I do know that there is real interest in research and improving practice in how digital technology is ‘taught’ in HE. This page is a good jumping off point for reading about digital literacy http://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/2011/03/jisc11/programme/3digitalliteracy.aspx
    My own view is that any teaching and learning should use students’ personal experience of digital technology and also be embedded in the curriculum to give it relevance.

  • RebeccaWho

    Meet Roy. He taught me everything I know. Explains a lot.

  • http://www.pushon.co.uk PushON

    Thanks Frances. Would be great to see you at the debate, sounds like you have some interesting views. Dan said you were thinking of coming down?

  • http://www.seo-creative.co.uk Sadie

    I had a similar experience I did a design course and had one lesson on Photoshop, one on Flash, one on Illustrator and one on Dreamweaver but lucky for me 2 on InDesign the software I haven’t used for 3 years. I found my course was completely out dated with long deadlines and left me totally unprepared for getting a job. I know many off my course worked for free to gain the skills in the industry which whne you have student debts and rent and bills left them well below the poverty line as the only money they got was a weekend job. I was lucky that I went to an agency from an Account management and sales role then from the experience I taught myself the skills needed.
    I was more frustrated when I recently contacted my old uni and found one of the other students who couldn’t get a job in the industry was now lecturing having no experience therefore continuing this trend of students being un prepared.
    I was sorry to miss thefeed last night but hopefully it is the start of big changes and future graduates may not feel that the tuition fees where a complete waste of money and debt – as I do!