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Learning and development in a digital culture : an analysis based on Michel Freitag

1.1 Social, cultural, linguistic and educational mediation
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
2:50 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (20 minutes)
For over two decades now – and even more so in the last ten years – our societies have taken a digital turn which translated in radical changes in all levels of human activity. These changes also affected education, in which digital technology spreads quickly to the point where mastering a certain level of technological procedures is part of the training of all Quebec teachers. However, digital technology is not only a tool to learn or teach: digital technology deeply alters the way we learn. These changes have of course been documented, but analyses have often concentrated on the achieved results without taking into account possible developmental outcomes. Discussions have often been tainted as well by underlying tenets totally in favor of or opposed to the digital turn. Michel Freitag – a Quebec sociologist who passed away in 2009 – investigated this problematic, as no-one had ever before, by questioning digital age and its influence on learning in the wider frame of the evolution of society (1995, 2002). In his analysis, he discusses not only the social and cultural aspects of this change but also the epistemological and ontological underpinnings and consequences of this sudden evolution. His work reveals that a more fundamental change is under way in our ways to think knowledge and to relate to the world, behind the invasion of our societies and of our schools by the digital technology. Our presentation aims at presenting Freitag’s thought about the global effects of digital technology on learning and on the development of the human being in a social and cultural, thus political, perspective. We also propose to explore how sociocultural activity theory (Leont’ev, 1978; Vygotsky, 1978), through the link between activity and consciousness, or between tools and mind, can help us understand and operationalize Freitag’s views in the field of education.
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Université Laval
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