Virtual Higher Education: A Liberalist or Humanist Socialization Tool

Dr. Alexandra Bal
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Many claim that, if well designed and used, information and communication technologies have the potential to enhance educational institutions by improving the quality of learning and teaching activities. But software design is not a value neutral activity and the type of communication and information exchange being encouraged within a virtual environment changes the type of socialization and interactions that are carried forth.

What values guide the design of Information and communication systems and their evaluation? Are software designers aware of the types of values they are promoting? This paper examines these questions via an analysis of the communication and structural design of virtual educational environments. It explores how the design of the use of information and communication technologies in a Canadian university classroom promotes particular socio-economical ideologies. By exploring which type of socio-economical values are embedded within specific types of interactions, and which socialization processes are being promoted by various communication methods, this paper examines how information and communication based systems alter the classroom. Finally, it also explores who has the most influence on the design and implementation of learning technologies, the administrator or the pedagogue? Depending on the dominant voice, the interactions created in these environments can advance liberalist and humanist socio-economical ideologies.

Keywords: Internet, Information, Social Science, Socio-Economy, Virtual Education
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Virtual Higher Education

Dr. Alexandra Bal

Assistant Professor, School of Image Arts, New Media Studies, Ryerson University

Alexandra Bal is an assistant professor in Ryerson (Toronto, Canada) in the school of arts of the image where she teaches new media design and production courses. Holding her Doctorate from Paris University 13, she studies the convergence between the various industrial, economic and educational stakes subjacent to the introduction of information and communication technologies to university education and to the phenomenon of interdisciplinarity activities concerned in the creation of systems of evaluation and production of higher education educational software. Research activities, design and Production Alexandra has been involved in the conceptualization, production and software development of university based educational systems. She is specializing in the construction and use of narratives as interfaces to educational processes and as representation of information. Her present applied research deals with the use of AI in education, more specifically with the potential use of bots and avatars in simulation based education. She is a member of the Seminar on Industrialization of the Formation in France and of the Interactive team "Interdisciplinary Research TEAM for LearningMedia" in Toronto. She was a member of the "National Dated File Consultation Working Group" with SSHRC and a co-founder member of the IBDG (Interactive Broadcast Development Group) research project "InterCast Ontario: Interactive Bridging the Gap between the New Media and Broadcast Paradigms".

Ref: T05P0072