New Technologies: No Place to Hide?
by Prof. Edna Aphek
The paper describes two months work with teachers, reading
counselors, in a literacy forum on the internet, as part of
The writer examines the possible reasons for the absenteeism
of many teachers from the forum and their seemingly lack of
interest in it.
years ago I was asked by a director of a large Israeli company
to head the implementation of a new software in her organization.
The software was an organizational network, where all the
transactions, knowledge and information, memos and protocols,
will be uploaded, for the benefit of all the members of the
At that time I was too busy and could not take upon myself
this most interesting and time monopolizing assignment. However,
I vividly remember the conversation we held and the comment
made by the director:
"they so vehemently resist this network, because it does
away with the traditional hierarchy and furthermore, it exposes
people, they can't hide any more."
Her words still echoing, I remembered a lecture I attended
a few years ago. In this lecture, one of the leading educationalists
in Israel pointed out to the fact that teachers aren't comfortable
unless they close "the lid "(door) on their classroom,
i.e.; when no one can hear or watch what they are doing. This
and more, teachers, he said, rarely expose their own writing
or any other product of theirs ( not of their students) to
the rest of the world.
New Technologies: Exposure
Last August I was asked as part of my work on integrating
the New Technologies in Education with Literacy counselors
in the Jerusalem area, to set up a forum [: An area of the
Internet where particular topics are discussed. This is typically
a message board where members post messages for the entire
for an on- going dialogue and discussions with the trainees
and thus to promote a new form of learning and teaching. There
were about 20 participants in the course, some of them senior
counselors and about more than a half, "counselors to
The forum (in Hebrew) was opened in the beginning of September,
at the Jerusalem Municipality site, and was placed at the
pedagogic section at the following address.
my dismay, two months after the forum was set up, I feel that
my work was unsuccessful. Most of the participants simply
didn't access the forum.
On the whole seven participants accessed the forum, but only
four became really active .
Trying to fathom this phenomenon, of non participation on
line, whereas most of the literacy counselors-teachers came
to the face to face meetings, I wrote two messages in the
forum: one addressed to H. the head- counselor of the group,
who is also in charge of the administrative aspects and asked
her also to send this message to all the participants via
snail mail and to read them the message, in a face to face
meeting she was about to hold. (as I am writing this short
piece the meeting hasn't been held , yet.)
The other message, in a form of request for help, I posted
in the forum itself.
The following are the two messages:
Subject: H.and all the participants in the training
has been a few weeks now since we have started working in
the forum. Unfortunately only a very small number of teachers
have actively participated.
I have been wondering what the reasons might be.
Is it the medium itself?
If the problem is lack of practice, then I am willing to come
to a meeting designated specifically for practicing. In this
meeting I'll show the participants [who have all been trained
in accessing and searching the internet for almost a year]
how to access the forum.
I am wondering whether practicing or its lack is the reason
for absenteeism from the forum. I am wondering since all it
takes is writing an internet address.
I am most interested in understanding the reasons for this
lack of participation or to be more accurate, lack of access.
learning is in no way similar to face to face learning. It
has its own difficulties. However, research shows that the
combination of face to face meetings with virtual learning
increases the percentage of participation .It didn't help
in our case.
Why is it so?
What hinders serious and talented people from using the forum
May it be the very idea of writing in cyber- space? In a non
physical, sort of "no where" environment?
I would love to learn and understand.
that very day I also sent the following message:
Subject: a request for help
I am collecting information, explanations, ideas and data
for an article on forums on the internet: their novelty, influence,
and how effective they are.
be most grateful to you if you were to share your thoughts
and ideas with me.
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