Technology value laden and non neutrality in education


There is growing number of researchers who argues that technology enhances value in learning and in teaching process. (Education) The use of learning and teaching technology like learning management system (LMS) and e- learning system, has witnessed a tremendous growth in the education sector in recent years.  Many scholars have argued that technology advances has been a value laden to the education sector, while some views it as affecting (Non neutrality) the education sector. This paper explores the non neutrality and the value laden of technology on the education.

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The recent advancements in technology have changed the cultural, economic, political, and social fabric life since the time that cold war came to an end. (Taylor 2001)  Information and communication has been the most vocal point in transforming the society – all the way from the early industrial society of the twentieth century to the current network society of the modern age, where intercontinental are just but a button push away.

The education sector has not gone untouched; predictions are ripe that in just a few decades to come, the changing times pressure will have reduced the education sector into relics. According to Ducker (1997) learning institutions won’t survive, in the context of education there is a shift from knowledge pursuit to a more pragmatic paradigm that is economically oriented. Information accessibility and the ability of using the information are the two key features of knowledge.  The production of knowledge, dissemination, research and the teaching are not self contained as they used to be, but they now involve interacting more with the producers of knowledge than it used to be in the past. Many education institutions (learning centers) are currently improving their competitiveness in this new and challenging system of   distributing/disseminating knowledge. In this quest, the institutions of learning are extensively using the new technology (e.g. ICT) to attract and to teach more students, and enhance their cooperation with other stakeholders.  The technology equipments used in teaching and learning should be clearly clarified for it to have a positive impact on education. The purpose of this paper is to look at the non neutrality and value laden of technology on education.

In regard to technology in education, the education sectors have a tendency of orienting itself in three dimensions. The first dimension is called uses determinism; this idea involves the perception of the effects of the technology to the education sector and to the society at large. The second dimension is known as the technological determinism this focuses on the effects and forms that the artifacts of technology have on education and the uses, the third dimension is social determinism which asserts that education affects forms and uses of artifacts of technology.

The paper will begin by taking a survey of literature reviews regarding the roles of technology in transforming the education sector. Secondly the paper will take a look at the meaning and implication of technology in education sector; thirdly the paper will outline the non neutrality of technology in regard to education and point out some perceptions that people have towards technology in regard to education. The paper will conclude by stating that technology is actually adding value to education and making it easier. The value laden of technology is the one that makes it non neutral to education Given that technology has bring with it ICT, it has positively affected the education sector.

The diverse meaning of educational technology (ICT)

Technology plays a pivotal role in effective response by the education sector to the threats and challenges that it is facing from local, technological and global related forces. This calls for education scholars to hurriedly address the pervasive absence of conceptual framework regarding the uses and nature of technology in education sector.

In higher education, government, and other learning institutional education policies documents and statements from popular scholars, technology has mainly been discussed or mentioned in regard to its uses. The range in which technology is used in education sector has been steadily rising; this leads us to a proliferation of the implication and the meaning that is associated with technology. In tertiary education it refers to educational technologies, e-learning and learning technologies, digital libraries, digital learning objects,  on line teaching, online learning just to mention them but a few.  Technology is further perceived in the field of communication as a network or a communication tool. (Ducker eta l 2001)

There are many definitions that put a lot of emphasis on education (knowledge) and technology. Technology as a tool extends the ability of human beings to come up with a concrete solution to a problem, it empowers teachers, it empowers education administrators hence stimulating effective learning, it helps students to acquire knowledge, lastly technology can be conceptualized as a knowledge domain.

The paper is going to use the e- learning system, ICT ,  the actor network theory, and computer soft wares that are used to teach students to look at how technology value laden in education

The perception of technology as a value laden in education

There are many theories and studies that describe the profound ICT implication to the education sector. Education sector has undergone tremendous transformation using ICT, ICT has bring with it capacities and capabilities of learning, for example it has enabled teachers and students to formulate a multi sensory that is rich, an interactive environment that do not have a limit on learning and teaching potential.

            ICT is considered to be part of an answer for the ever changing learning needs of the society. Despite the positive roles that ICT plays in the education sector, fierce debate has emerged about the different perceptions that people have towards ICT on the learning and teaching methods. Many scholars have argued that ICT add more value to the education sector more than it is killing it.  Where ICT is viewed as a being, it is being perceived to a toll that it’s used to achieve a particular goal or to fulfill a certain desire. The constructivists, argues that technology ought to be centered on the engage actively in construction rather than in a destructive manner. (Oliver eta l 2006 page 18)

Another value of technology on education is that it has been successful used as a mechanism for enhancing administration and development of academic curriculum.   According to James (1999) the blending of education and technology has mainly involved the application of new technologies to development of a course curriculum. Technology has eased the administration of education sector. Much software have been developed that mainly

ICT is the panacea so the many challenges that the education sector is facing. It provides maximum support to the administrative, learning and the teaching process within the education sector, a good example of the administrative support that education sector is getting from ICT is, ICT offers distance education to the poor people who are living in rural areas or in poor countries. ICT can also be used to support teachers or instructors with inadequate resources, content knowledge and skills. Lazy or old teachers who don’t want to come to class ca easily adopt this system; they will find it useful for them and for their students. (Broere eta l 2002)

Certain ethical issues are specific for a certain technology hence cannot be separated from the technology. Most of these ethical issues are actually related to the role that the technology plays in education. Technology hence raises some general questions which are of value; technology is technically value laden through its inherent role that it plays in education. Every technology that is applied in the education sector has a function, and every function relates to its value and purpose. (Fox eta l 1997 page 88)

On the other side, technology can be value laden and autonomous, but not controlled by the human beings. (education administrators) In other words the means and the ends are both linked in the system. Technology therefore affects the education sector through influencing the learning process, how technology is also influenced by the learning and the teaching process. Technology to some extend can be controlled by human beings but at the same time value laden. This perspective was referred to as the critical theory of learning by Feenberg in 2003. In this perspective technology is used as a tool that carries has the context of design, cultural and the language connotations of its location to impact where it is destined. It also has the ability of shaping the social identity and interaction. (Fox eta l 1997 page 88)

E – Learning and actor network theory shows the value laden perspective of technology. Below is a contextual frame work of e- learning and actor network theory.

E- Learning and actor network theory

            ANT (Actor network theory) put a lot of emphasis on the technical agents and on human and it enables the technological specificity. Actor network theory suggest further the elimination of all the distinctions between the social and the technical actors, in what is referred to as heterogeneous network in the law. Actor network theory presents a network a sum of casual and interrelated connectedness of the factors in socio technical account. The importance of a network lies in its negotiated process that is continual, where artifacts actors and the human have a casual and a mutual impact on the network process. All the networks must have actors for them to exists, and actors will only act within a network (they cannot work outside the network) the actors can only be viewed relative to other actors; they cannot also be separated from the other actors. A social network refers to a set of organizations, people and maybe their structure that are joined by a set of  relationship that is social, a technological network refers to technologies that human being construct and then applies in  collaboration with other factors. (Lamb 2002)

            This paper has perceived e- learning as a socio technical network that is composed of human being (administrators, teachers and students), structures (education policies, a group of teachers, learning groups, and administrators), technology refers (learning management systems) environment (the context of education) unwanted and wanted outcomes, and lastly resulting learning process. (Broere eta l 2002)

Non neutrality of technology in education

The inherently value laden nature of technology makes it to be non neutral to education; this is because technology mediates or extends the stakeholders (teachers, students and learning institutions) experience with the education. However the non neutrality of technology in education cannot be avoided.  If it is believed that technology is not neutral on the education sector, it means that education act only according to the imperatives of technology. How it is that technology is non neutral in education, while it meant to be used as tool that enhances its use. This paper is going to outline the non neutrality technology in education sector.

It is crystal clear that technology is not neutral to education; it changes every aspect of education other than the role that it (education) plays in the society. It affects the contents, the method, the techniques and the various teaching ideas. ICT changed the way that teachers are teaching, the teacher can go to class or he can just use the internet to pass his lecture to his students. A series of tools and machines has also changed the way the teachers are teaching, the teachers now do to have to use the board, they are resorting to using power point to deliver their lectures. Another example is the use of computer has changed the teachers and the learner’s perception of learning. Heidegger’s theory regarding technology is actually making sense in the profound role of technology in education sector. Technology has become part of education; education has been transformed with the technology that was meant to be a tool of enriching it. Technology as set up an educational framework at the same time it is liberating. Technology has been entrenched into the education sector to extend it cannot be separated from it, separating the two will end up killing education. Technology has not been neutral on education, it has changed it, in a confining manner, and however some scholar urges that the transformation that education has undergone is liberating change. The role of education in the society has however still remain the same despite the non neutrality of technology. (Woolgar 1996 page 89)

Technological determinism – in this orientation, technology is perceived to be playing a pivotal role in transforming the education sector. Some of the scholars who are believed to have championed this ideology are Kiesler, Sproull, and Argle amongst others. It perceive technology has having negative impact on education sector, because it is distracting it and also perceive technology to be having the ability of harming the education system. Some scholars (Noble 1991, Agre, Denning, Herman & Scheineder 1998) have argued that technology (e-learning) has eroded the academic freedom, they are also urges that expansion of technologies like e – learning will end up de professionalizing the teaching fraternity in the education sector, because most of the teaching that is done through contact, will now be done through the internet, this is likely to render most of the teachers jobless. Despite all this facts, it is still hard to come up with technological determinant that will diminish education. (Agre eta l 1998)

Technology is also not neutral on the education because it creates a rising capitalist climate, which has some political interest like co modification, corporatization and commercialization of education. Unlike in the past days, when the cost of education was cheap, this has changed with time; the cost of education has risen steadily with the advancement in technology. The cost of education has become because learning institutions and other stakeholders in the education sectors have to these new technological equipments like computers, digital library, projectors among others. Many people in third world countries like Kenya and other poor countries cannot afford education. This as seen diminish of education in some countries. (Agre eta l 1998)

Technology has changed on the different teaching techniques that teachers are using. Many teachers are moving away from their traditional methods of teaching and are now using the internet to teach their students. Initially teachers used to teach in learning institutions particularly the ones of higher learning are currently embracing new methods of teaching and learning like the e- learning and the ICT. This change has actually affected education to a greater extend. For example distance education is almost being declared redundant; the number of hours of contacts between the students and the teachers has also reduced. The reduction in the hours of contacts between the teachers and the students have left many students to go without understanding the concept, unlike the previous methods where the contacts hour were many, students were able to understand easily given that they could easily ask the teacher, in the event that they didn’t understand the  concept. This has greatly affected the quality of education that is being disseminated in the modern society. (Web 1991 page 120)

The use of technology in classes has seen some teachers and lectures moving away from the traditional method of writing on the board using a piece of chalk, nearly all the teachers and lectures are currently using power point to teach their students.


            Technology is playing pivotal role in enriching the education sector. It has brought a lot of changes that have impacted positively on the education sector. Technologies such as ICT, power point, online learning and teaching methods  has made education easily accessible at the time it has made it easier and interesting to both the learners and the teachers. Technology is meant to be a tool, which is to be used in enriching education; however it has end up being non neutral to the education sectors. Technology has become part of education; education has been transformed with the technology that was meant to be a tool of enriching it. Technology has been entrenched into the education sector to extend it cannot be separated from it, separating the two will end up killing education. Some scholars have argued that technology is going to greatly affects education to the extend that it wont be no more.

            The stakeholders in Education sector and in the information and communication sector ought to work hand in hand to ensure that the technology that is adopted in the education sector is not having a negative impact in the education. Any technology adopted should enrich education by making it easier, enjoyable, easily accessible, and convenient to all the stake holders in the education sector.


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Technology value laden and non neutrality in education. (2017, Jan 31). Retrieved from