(Dis)Empowering Technologies: ICT for Education (ICT4E) in China, Past and Present

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Information and communication technologies (ICT) are often presented as the cure-all for various problems: ICTs for education (ICT4E) are considered promising tools for promoting self-directed, creative learning and bridging various divides, such as those between developed and developing countries, urban and rural regions, and so on. While the lofty goals of ICT4E are continuously being highlighted, surprisingly little attention has been paid to how these technologies are embedded in sociocultural and political environments.
China is no exception to this narrative of techno-determinism. In China, new technologies are being widely propagated as effective instruments for erasing differences between learners and learning communities, particularly with regard to transplanting "modern" education into rural communities. The novelty of 21st century ICT, however, tends to obscure the fact that these techno-optimist beliefs date back to attempts in the early 20th century to uplift rural China through the implementation of modern technologies. The article will scrutinize this history of techno-optimism and will relate it to recent attempts at "transformation by technology." Finally, I will discuss how the new keyword in both educational modernization and the knowledge economy—"creativity"—functions as the conceptual ideological heir to "production capacity," the core ingredient of the industrializing societies of the 19th and 20th centuries.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Educational Sciences


  • ICT4E, development, techno-determinism, techno-optimism, creativity, rural China
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-77
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

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