n South African Journal of Higher Education - It's not about the tool, it's about the ideology

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



While it is often argued that technology could act as a change agent and transform educational practices, individuals, communities, government and society holding their own ideological beliefs limit such a liberalisation of the educational system. To show that the use of educational technology is part of a dialectical struggle this article explores the: current use of technology in the classroom; development of standards and approaches to learning technology; and the use of computer and video games. The design, development, integration and use of technology in the classroom is driven by individual and institutional ideologies that support current hegemonic constructions maintained through observation and control systems. The development of standards for learning management systems (for example the Sharable Content Object Reference Model and the associated Learning Object Metadata Standard) underpin the concept of Reusable Learning Objects (RLO). The conceptualization, development, deployment and use of RLOs is ideologically driven and has little to do with contemporary ideas of learning and everything to do with fundamental and totalitarian ideologies of instruction. The blended approach to learning, where technology is introduced into existing courses where appropriate, sees technological objects (such as digital information, discussion boards, and chat sessions) as an additional component to existing courses. The use of technology in such a way does not allow for the re-conceptualisation of existing ideological practices and therefore limits educational transformation. Computer game technology could be used as a powerful tool to support learning. However, many supporters of the use of games in education argue for the use of simulations that are either ideologically suspect (for example the use of game software used to train military personal as a useful educational device) or based on model-using rather that model-building. An analysis of successful computer games shows that players are presented with either realistic environments that include complex multifaceted characters involved in richly textured narratives or are designed to support male fantasies (both erotic and authoritarian), inculcate self-discipline (especially through reflex), include control-and-monitoring (preparing workers for a global economy) and are gender exclusive. This article argues that technology can only be used within specific idiosyncratic, homological and inclusive ideologies that in most cases reproduce the past into the future, which is making real a neo-liberal dream.

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