Vol. 13 - Issue 1 2017 - ISSN 1504-4831
Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Volume 2 - issue 1 - 2006

Editorial Volume 2 Issue 1

In Seminar.net's first year we published two issues, editorial.jpgand we received recognition from fellow electronic publishers for our innovative use of  short video clips offering  authors the opportunity to introduce their contributions. There are some challenges when entering the world of digital communication, and one of them is certainly to take innovative steps towards multimodal ways of presenting academic knowledge. We would like our readers to forward their ideas and suggestions on how to make this journal’s communication of academic knowledge more inspired, vivid and helpful. We are planning three issues this year, and we are in the favourable position of  continually receiving contributions that address the purpose of mediation and communication.

The current issue of Seminar.net, the first of Volume 2., is a cross-disciplinary accomplishment gathering together papers written by scholars from different disciplines, and they all contribute in significant ways to frame the field of “Media, technology and lifelong learning”.

“Our” field is definitely not mono-cultural. Historically it has attracted the interest of scholars from many areas. Lifelong learning, or rather distance education, has engaged researchers from a wide  academic spectrum, specialists in chemistry, history, linguistics, economics…etc. Technology and educational technology has had a close relation to this field, but only occasionally managed to recruit media researchers. The enterprise of our journal is to bring them together and develop a discourse about the relationship between teaching and learning, communication and mediation. The importance of technology in communication and mediation is a core concern in the four articles we proudly present here.

A Swedish educationalist asked us why Norwegian teachers normally are so attentive to philosophical discourses. In his opinion they were a lot more patient with philosophical speakers  than in the neighbouring countries. They accepted more reasoning, doubt and logical argumentation, than he was used to from his national context. Lars Løvlie, our first contributor, is a key national and international exponent of the philosophical essay and his philosophical style provides an answer to why this might be the case. Løvlie has played a significant role as provider of philosophical thinking in education the last three and a half decades, in articles, books, as well as in his teaching; for twenty years he held permanent tenure at Lillehammer University College, and has been at the  University of Oslo for the last fifteen. His essay on “Technocultural education” was published in an anthology in Norwegian and in a much longer version three years ago. The essay takes us through reasoning about the relation between man and technology, with Donna Haraway’s notion of  the cyborg introduced at the outset. Løvlie offers us an understanding of how and why the critique of educational technology in the 1960-ies in some way led to a misunderstanding of technology per se, and it took two decades to revive a notion of technology that was not conceived of as anti-human. Løvlie suggests that the interface between man and society, man and computers, man and the virtual network of knowledge can supplement or replace the concept of bildung. His contribution is a very challenging one, and will, hopefully, give rise to significant debate.

Wenche M. Rønning and Gunnar Grepperud write about student's actual use of ICT in their studies. They conducted a national survey in Norway on how adult students in flexible education made us of their available technologies. They found that even if the access to Internet is widespread and the potential for using ICT in advanced ways is obvious,  this potential has been exploited to a lesser extent than expected. The basic functions used are e-mailing, exchange of files etc. Similarly, the use of ICT for discussions with fellow students and to collaborate in projects are features with flexible learning that are used less than expected. These are important and valuable insights, and based on solid empirical material. The authors provide us with evidence that on-line learning still has a way to go when it comes to surpassing conventional teaching on campus in terms of innovative methods.

Jens E. Kjeldsen provides us with fundamental critique of the PowerPoint software. For years this software has supplied the world of education, instruction and business communication with a transparent sort of media, without generating much else than admiration and astonishment, at least when successful users amaze novices. But over the years a growing suspicion has emerged, saying that, in spite of its transparency, it still has a profound effect on the message. Kjeldsen, whose research speciality is the political use of rhetoric, has aired this criticism in a keynote speech to the “Didactics and Technology” conference at Lillehammer University College in 2005. He has developed his address into an essay and we think it represents  one of the most coherent and comprehensive contributions to date in its attempt to critique PowerPoint delivery. His essay is written in an overtly rhetorical style, which also underlines his message that any teacher or communicator needs to investigate the rhetorical situation first, before considering what kind of support a set of slides can provide for the understanding of the learner. His final point is that “media rhetoracy” is a dimension that needs to be employed to make communication useful and successful.

From the last article in this issue by Martin Engebretsen we learn that the correspondence between text and video is a complex matter, and that it challenges our common conceptions of multimodality. In essence, it addresses the matter of how texts and video can interact in the service of effective and purposeful communication. Martin Engebretsen argues, largely in the spirit of  Kress and Leeuwen, that we are entering the era of semi-dynamic texts, in which our ability to read texts, both written and filmed, are harmonised. Inspired by his theoretically well developed views, and yet with good practical advice,  we have taken practical steps to let the video that introduces all our articles take on a more transparent form. In practical terms this means that we will insert the videos in a Flash-format, that unlike Windows Media Player does not jump to the front and generate a new frame for the video display.