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

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.

Roundtable on Education, Gender and ICTs

Next May 20, will take place a roundtable on Education, Gender and ICTs. The roundtable will be chaired by Gill Kirkup, senior professor of educational technology at the Institute of Educational Technology of the Open University (UK) and Head of Research, Data and Policy at the UK Resources Center for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.Juliet Webster, who opened the cycle of roundtables about Women and ICTs last December, will be also giving us her point of view regarding this issue. 

During the event, we will reflect about ICTs, education and women, starting from an initial question whether ICTs are a tool to help women to access education or if they have become a new barrier for them.

We will also focus on the situation in the developing countries, since education for women usually must respond to other kind of needs and we will reflect on the present role played by ICTs and  try to figure out how can be their future role.

The event will be at the Jordi Pujol room from 10am to 12pm in Tibidabo (Avda. Tibidabo, 39-43) and among the attendants there will be members of the UOC Commission for Equality, researchers of the UOC Group of Research on Gender and ICTs and  a representative of the Support Office for Equal Opportunities of the UPC.

People interested in attending, please confirm your participation at: catedraunesco@uoc.edu.(limited availability).
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ICTs for Women Empowerment

The UNESCO Chair in e-Learning held a roundtable on December 10, with Juliet Webster and Cecilia Castaño under the title ICTs for Women Empowerment.
Juliet Webster is researcher and consultant on women’s working lives in the Information Society, specifically in the implications of changes in technologies and organisations.
Cecilia Castaño has been visiting researcher at Harvard University at the Center for European Studies in 2007 and is currently Manager of the Research Program of Gender and ICTs at the UOC since 2006.

During the roundtable Juliet and Cecilia referred to the different worldwide initiatives on this issue and emphasized the important position of women in the developing countries, since is where they can usually play a key role in spreading knowledge within their communities. As some experts in education quote: teach one woman and you teach a whole community.
The empowerment of women in ICTs is a way to reach a whole community and provide knowledge to it through training a reduce group of women. Instead of trying to reach end-users which in most cases can be a huge effort, teach women in the use of ICTs, can be more efficient to achieve the goal leading to the improvement of the education in a community.

Juliet Webster is author of Shaping Women’s Work: Gender, Employment and Information Technology (1996), and the co-editor of The Information Society in Europe: Work and Life in an Age of Globalization (2000).
Cecilia Castaño is author of Las mujeres y las tecnologías de la información. Internet y la trama de nuestra vida (Alianza, 2005)

La intensa relación entre los jóvenes y las TIC

Hace algunos años, cuando era becario en un diario local en Murcia, mis jefes me pidieron que propusiera una lista de temas para escoger entre todos algo potente para un reportaje. Es lo que sucede a menudo en verano con la prensa local, no hay demasiadas noticias. El asunto que más me apeteció en aquel momento, el que finalmente llevamos a las páginas del diario, consistía en realizar un análisis de los distintos cibercafés que en aquel momento (creo que en el año 2001) había disponibles en la ciudad. La principal conclusión que se podía inferir del reportaje, que además acabó siendo el titular, hacia referencia a la función del cibercafé como nuevo centro social juvenil, como espacio que sustituye a los tradicionales salones de juegos recreativos, con la salvedad de que el acceso a Internet para un joven no sólo significa el acceso al mundo de los juegos multijugador en línea, sino también el acceso a un universo ingente de información en el que el joven con inquietudes y un mínimo conocimiento del medio no puede más que salir ganando.

Precisamente, este el tema del libro que un grupo de expertos de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya acaba de publicar bajo el título Jóvenes en cibercafés: la dimensión física del futuro virtual (Editorial UOC, 2007). Los diez autores del libro, cuenta la nota de prensa publicada por la editorial, han investigado la forma que tiene la relación entre las TIC y la juventud, así como los pormenores de la relación entre padres e hijos en la materia. Del estudio se extraen algunas conclusiones de talante más bien negativo, por ejemplo se registran En el libro se desdica parte de los esfuerzos a desmitificar la adicción y la violencia como algunos de los síntomas habitualmente mencionado en la relación que se ha estudiado. También arroja cifras sobre el qué, el cómo, el cuando y el por qué del uso de las TIC por parte de los jóvenes. Del estudio cuantitativo de esta relación podemos saber hasta qué punto los jóvenes están predispuestos y preparados al/para el uso de las tecnologías.

El estudio también sirve como argumento para acabar con la demonización de los cibercafés, con esa imagen que tenemos, la mayoria de las veces incierta, que nos hace pensar en ellos como el lugar donde los jóvenes fomentan sus vicios en materia digital. Por ejemplo, hemos podido saber que dedican menos tiempo de lo que normalmente se cree. Los autores del libro remarcan como conclusión más importante que cuando juegan, lo hacen en grupo y que, por lo tanto, el tiempo que pasan se tiene que contar como tiempo con los amigos y no como tiempo con la “máquina”.

Enlaces relacionados:

Grupo de investigación JUVENTIC
www.uoc.edu/in3/joventic
Nota de prensa UOC
www.uoc.edu/prensa
Editorial UOC
www.editorialuoc.com