Is digital fundamental?

When a new minister takes office, we can expect a slightly more visionary approach to the digital problem than that of his predecessor. Indeed, for this, what was fundamental is the data processing, the code that is considered a language, in short, the mainly software dimension. However, the analysis of ordinary practice shows that this is not paramount in the necessary learning from and about digital technology. Because on the one hand the digital cannot be traced back to computers and on the other hand the computer code is not a language like the others while with the digital languages ​​have been transformed, enriched and above all the ways of using digital technology. But above all, digital encompasses many other dimensions that teachers complain they don’t have time to work on, from small class sizes to higher education. Whether it concerns the mastery of everyday use or that of information and communication through new and old media, as well as the general understanding of the place IT occupies in society and its evolution, a “specialized” training can certainly doors open, but will be insufficient as long as the building of these complex skills is not integrated into daily practice and thus becomes “normal”.

IT or digital?

The advent of computers from the early 1980s essentially inaugurated their integration into education as an “outside”, “edge”, “additional” moment. It is true that the technical limitations imposed from the beginning emphasized the notion of “computer space” (especially the famous nano-networks, but also the volume and weight of the computers of the time). The evolution of computer science has been characterized by the ability to “integrate” techniques that were still a long way off before digitization, such as audio, photo, video, telephony, but also local networks and then external networks. wired first, then wireless. The other evolution of computing is its very broad socialization. At work, first (management, automation, etc.), then in the social space (banks, administrations, etc.), and finally in the private/personal space (telephony, information, etc.). The Minitel is an interesting symbol of these developments, as long before the Internet it brought computers into the home in the form of these free terminals that were made available to subscribers. It foreshadowed what would happen to individual mobile devices a few years later. In 2020, while computing has expanded to digital, for a large proportion of schools, teachers and students (especially in primary education) it will still remain on the fringe of the school. On the brink, that is, it is still difficult to integrate, apart from specialized education (professional, technical, specialty in general baccalaureate), while assimilation took place in these teachings aimed at computer science. It should be borne in mind that the BTS in management and industrial informatics, following the lessons of technical secondary schools, is not recent. It is clear that the idea of ​​fundamental has more resonance in technical and vocational education than elsewhere.

The digital socializer?

In recent intervention at the ENSSIB, Anne Cordier (university professor) addressed the issue of children’s digital cultures. Although research is still In process the question of constructing a culture with digital technology, analyzed through the prism of the socialization process of young children, reveals how ‘fundamental’ this is. From an early age, the child is confronted with the digital world in the family space: different screens, smartphones, etc. It is not the devices that are in question in the first place, but their use in the interactive space that shapes the educational family life . Sometimes used as a relational third party, digital assets compete with the direct parent-child relationship. The practices of adults and older children in the home are examples that enable children to digitally acculterate from an early age. The period of health crisis between 2020 and 2022 has raised awareness of the importance of these resources in the home. In addition, we can see this by observing the increase of media or non-media, political and legislative or not, on this theme: speeches, reports, debates, forums… It must be recognized that the socialization of children is through digital technology and going to school marks a sometimes significant interruption that teachers often question. Because in what is fundamental, the digital is not really integrated, the place of “reading, writing, counting” is considered provisional, more fundamental.

On the website of the Ministry for example, we can read: “What is expected of children at the end of kindergarten. Use digital objects: cameras, tablet, computer”. The intentions then expressed in cycles 2 and 3 seem to be broader and more explicit. As the digital becomes more and more visible in the official instructions , the focus on these recommendations on digital only ignores the fact that this remains marginal and not fundamental in all official texts. By focusing its recommendations on IT from the outset, the ministry responded to pressure from lobbies in the field since the early 1980s. Associating fundamentals with IT, they initially rejected the demand for usage (battle against B2i) and then that of the media, information and communication. With the health crisis and the current evolution in information communication practices, these two elements have come to the fore again with on the one hand the awareness of illectronism (digital illiteracy) and fake news associated with the power of social networks. So what’s the point of knowing how to code before knowing how to deconstruct the everyday environment?

For a common digital framework

It is time that we develop a “common framework” within all education and all disciplines to take into account the digital phenomenon and its impact, both in socialization and in that of techno-cognitive development and even affective and emotional. This common framework is based on clearly formulated objectives of an education system that has allowed itself to be marginalized in this area. It would aim to ensure that the education system (which must also carry out its updating) integrates into the intent, the resources and the organization the “time” necessary to enable children to develop their understanding of the world in which they are living. are made to deconstruct and reconstruct. life and what is imposed on them. The time required during the training should allow for the transition from wild acculturation to a culture of the digitized world: from what I do to what we can and want to do, to computers, of course, but not taking the first step. Teachers today who use digital resources with their students demand that they be given the time, at the heart of their daily and disciplinary practices, the means to practice the transversality training of students that reflects the transversality of digital in society.

Bruno Devauchelle

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