E-news Issue 6
Monday, 09 August 2021
Charles Darwin University
Dr Jon Mason contributes to international discussions about the impact of digital technology on education.
Dr Jon Mason contributes to international discussions about the impact of digital technology on education.

Education academic shares insights into influence of digital technology

Charles Darwin University (CDU) College of Indigenous Futures, Education and the Arts, Associate Professor in Education, Dr Jon Mason, recently shared insights for the impact of digital technology on education through an international publication.

With expertise in e-learning, Dr Mason was invited to contribute to the Horizon Report published by EDUCAUSE, a publication that identifies key trends, emerging technologies and practices shaping the future of teaching and learning in higher education.

Dr Mason shared perspectives about artificial intelligence, micro-credentials and data analytics and identified challenges in access to education through digital technology.

“Education in a country like Australia is accessible until you dig deeper. We have always considered ourselves the lucky country, and in the era of digital technology, we are early adopters and have long experience in distance education,” Dr Mason said.

“But there is a disparity in the opportunities and a digital divide. The better a student’s resources are, the better position they are in,” he said.

“People from lower socio-economic backgrounds don’t have what most of us take for granted, and that’s a big challenge.”

Dr Mason pointed out that according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the number of children without access to formal education had increased from 260 million to over 1.6 billion since the beginning of COVID-19.

Dr Mason’s research also focuses on the influence of artificial intelligence on education, using the term 'black boxing of society' to describe how algorithms make judgments “for us and about us.”

“Digital technology is an incredibly powerful instrument of change in education. I use the words ‘search, social and smart’ to describe the key genres of digital technology in recent decades,” he said.

“But while technology can empower, there is also a flip side, it can disrupt and be destructive. While most people enjoy benefits of social media, it also leads to the tribalisation of society and limits people’s access to broader information.”

“It can go from smart to stupid if the impact is not handled properly,” Dr Mason said.

Dr Mason teaches several digital technology units at Charles Darwin University and continues to research in the digital frontiers impacting education.

“As 21st entury educators, we need to teach the next generation about this in ways they understand,” he said.