Digital technology is part of everyday life, whether at home, at work or at play. But what role does it play in education?
A world-first study led by Southern Cross University researcher Dr Michael Gard will investigate the use of digital technology in school health and physical education and its wider implications.
Starting in 2015 and running for three years, the study was made possible by a $177,000 Australian Research Council (ARC) grant.
Dr Gard said the research will examine the use of digital technologies in school health and physical education from a sociological perspective.While improving the health of students was not its primary goal, it is hoped the research will inform and improve the way students learn about health and physical activity at school.
‘We’re going to examine some of the wider contextual factors that are shaping the way digital technology is being used in schools’, said Dr Gard. ‘There has been research done on the application of digital technology in schools but nobody has tried to give a broader description or tried to understand it in a social science context.
‘We’re interested in what is being done to children and why, the types of digital technologies being used and how they are being used.’
Dr Gard said the research would also address the ‘commercialisation of schools’, with technology providers targeting education as a revenue stream.
‘Many of the things that are happening in schools in terms of technology are about making money, so some products may be sold to schools in the name of health but they are actually about making money.
‘What I think we will find is some examples of really brilliant practice and some not so good.’
On November 5, Southern Cross University received $1.7 million from the ARC.
Southern Cross University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Lee said the result was outstanding.
‘This is an excellent result for our researchers. These are highly competitive grants and the success of our applications is a real testament to the high quality of research we are undertaking at SCU’, he said.