A brief review of the Roundtable on Education, Gender and ICTs

9 June, 2010

The attendees of the Roundtable on Education, Gender and ICTs of UNESCO Chair in e-Learning were professors of Computer Science, and members of the Equality Commission of the UOC and the research group of Gender and ICTs.

Juliet Webster, researcher and consultant on women’s working lives in the Information
Society, led the first roundtable about ICTs in developing countries. She said that in these countries, it is important to make a pedagogical task among women to spread the use of ICTs and, through them, facilitate their access to education. She stated that is even more important to explain and make this pedagogical task to these women’s relatives and their social environment, since this social environment is what usually prevents women from accessing to education, due to social prejudices and other social barriers.

Gill Kirkup, senior professor of educational technology at the Institute of Educational Technology of the Open University (UK), led the second roundtable on Education, Gender and ICTs. During the session, Gill launched some questions and reflected about different issues regarding to this wide working field. As a first reflection, she stated that distance has always been a part of learning, but the factor missing in it, has always been the lack of human support. She said that education embedded in media (radio, tv, and others) predominates over human-to-human communication and interaction.

She also reflected about ICTs as tools which can help women to access education. She pointed that that e-learning is a way to improve user satisfaction that can be perversely applied if we’re not cautious. She said that ICTs can tie women to their homes, so the application of ICTs in different learning contexts must be analyzed from a critical approach in order to avoid a use that could eventually go against women rights. Gill pointed that distance education can help to educate women, but at the same time maintains women isolated from face-to-face universities.

Gill also thinks that women should become bloggers, specially those in the university and remarked the importance of research on gender and academic blogging. He also firmly believes that women should promote through five levels: 1) Welfare; 2) Access; 3) Conscientisation; 4) Participation; 5) Control. She thinks that we should ask ourselves: how can we use e-learning for promoting women through these five levels?

She believes that it’s important to focus in the importance of ICTs in NGOs, women groups, and many others, because women in these organizations and groups are the ones who can help other women.

Gill Kirkup has also been interviewed, you can read the interview in the page of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

The aim of the UNESCO Chair in e-Learning is to continue debating and sharing resources about this issues, and open it to more people who could be interested.

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