E-SCHOOLBOOKS: OPEN OR CLOSED SYSTEMS?
IEIIT-CNR, National Research Council of Italy (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:E-schoolbooks are becoming increasingly interactive [1-5] and, in case they also provide access to the Internet, must be managed so as to prevent possibly dangerous applications and contents. This responsibility relies first on parents and educators, but it should progressively and consciously pass into the hands of the young.
Several problems arise, such as a serious generation gap. In fact, those who are parents and teachers now were not born digital: they began to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) late. Mainly due to the disruptive ICT evolution with respect to school natural development over the decades [6-12], a serious ICT education lack can be found in parents and teachers themselves. On the contrary, youngsters manage ICT devices in the most natural way: the risk is to make the problem chronic and the generation gap even larger.
A distinction must be made: use of ICT and awareness. Sooner or later, in fact, young students will use ICT devices and have a full access to the Internet. The sooner they also achieve appropriate skills and awareness, the better, both professionally and in private life.
Firstly, ICT are focal in most jobs, and suitable competences are required. Secondly, even an amateurish use of the web can lead to dangers, for instance privacy violation and frauds. Another factor: as citizens, the young will have to face many public activities on the Internet, with little assistance from operators.
The same applies to the Cloud, quickly coming abreast of local computing and revolutionizing the use of both computers and the Internet. Despite the necessary concept of transparent use of resources, being aware of the difference between local and cloud computing is crucial, for instance to efficiently handle with real-time cooperative work [13-15].
If properly designed and managed, educational games and e-schoolbooks can be a tool to fill, even partially, the ICT generation gap, become flexible and get used to cooperative work: interaction between children and parents, as well as students and teachers, should be regarded as an opportunity.
In the early childhood, the fundamental role of playing together can be a first step towards a modern kind of interaction and ICT mutual education, as well as an important occasion to spend the time together. In school years, the situation evolves: teachers and students work together using also e-schoolbooks and the Internet.
This work discusses all such aspects and considers e-schoolbooks as "closed" and “open” systems, as in Social Sciences and Evolutionary Theory [16-18]. In this sense, e-schoolbooks are currently closed: every information is included in the book, and interactions take place among teachers and students. This approach is safe, but the above considerations suggest the risk of keeping ICT not properly experienced during educational years. E-schoolbooks are proposed to become progressively open.
Protected and guided in the childhood, during the teenage years the young must be expected to use ICT in a transparent way, but made immediately aware of two facts:
(i) every upload implies a loss of property and control on the uploaded material;
(ii) every access to the Internet can be traced.
As soon as feasible, also in primary school, functioning of e-schoolbooks and the Internet must be properly explained, with an appropriate support from professionals, to help both students and teachers, in a serious ICT alphabetization and educational growth.
Keywords: E-schoolbooks, generation gap, ICT education, open systems, closed systems.