Education 4.0 and Social Justice
by Michael Thomas
Many in the field of language learning have been discussing the potential of learning technologies with increasing regularity over the last three decades. Regardless of much of the hyperbole and industry-led tech-evangelism, it has made few inroads into main stream curricula and assessment practices, and the history of educational technology tells a story of ‘overhype and underuse’, a constantly changing landscape of the latest tech gadgets which have changed (or even disappeared) by the time the research study has been concluded. Anyone suggesting at any point this time last year that every school and university would, within a matter of a couple of weeks, take their entire course portfolio online would not have been believed – even taking one f2f course online would have been met in some contexts with massive resistance from teachers, learners and parents. The current public health crisis has indeed brought about a rapid ‘revolution’ that many commentators have been evangelising about for some time. In many cases however it has resulted in a form of ‘remote teaching’, rather than sustainable online pedagogy. Indeed, a key question for educators once this crisis is ‘over’, will be what the legacy of this ‘exodus to online education’ is for the future of language learning and the student experience within an increasingly neoliberal international marketplace? Does this moment of ‘online education’ revive interest in their potential to ‘enhance’ learning and ‘transform’ teaching and the student experience for all concerned, all of the time? Or does this ‘event’ of the Corona virus represent a ‘Ctrl+Alt+Delete moment’ in which we must all reflect in education on our ‘globalised’ practice and research and consider alternatives based not only on the discourse of endless digital innovation and enhancement, but on an agenda and approach to education and the student experience based on academic citizenship, social justice and sustainability.
About the author
Dr Michael Thomas is Professor of Education and Chair of the Centre for Educational Research (CERES) at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and holds two PhDs, one from the Newcastle University in Cultural Theory and a second from Lancaster University in Applied Linguistics. His research focuses on critical digital education, social justice, social mobility and the student experience. He has published over twenty authored and edited books and founded four international book series in the field of education. Over twenty-five years he has worked at universities in Germany, Japan and the UK and led large, multinational research groups and project teams.