National governments and multi-national institutions are spending unprecedented amounts of money on ICT on improving the overall quality of school learning, and schools are increasingly expected to prepare young people for a global economy in which inter-cultural understanding will be a priority. This book explores and analyzes the ways ICT has been used to promote citizenship and community cohesion in projects that link together schools in different parts of the world. It examines the theoretical framework behind such work and shows the impact of initiatives in the Middle East, Canada, the USA, England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere in the European Union.
This is a critical examination of the technologies that have been deployed, the professional development that has been provided and an evaluation of what constitutes good practice, particularly in terms of what collaborative learning really means for young people. Many of these initiatives have enabled young people to develop more positive relations with culturally and religiously different neighbours, but this work has just begun. Continuing international tensions over matters of identity and faith require that we better understand the political context for such work so that we might shape future directions more deliberately and more clearly.
"This book importantly contributes data about the actual state of things, particularly in the area of new technologies that are often the subject of very impassioned and idealistic claims. Research initiatives in this area have been critiqued for not asking more "state-of-the-actual" questions (Selwyn, 2010). By reviewing educational efforts in various countries, Austin and Hunter’s book gives us deeper insight into the political and social complexity that influences how and whether ICT use in education might support efforts to increase community cohesion, and ultimately reduce damaging societal conflict." - Clare Brett, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, Vol 41 (2)
"Online Learning and Community Cohesion is a thoughtful and articulate synopsis of the challenges we face in public education today and for the foreseeable future. Although the challenges are significant, the authors make a strong case that there is huge potential for improvements in public education and universal access to education through a reasoned approach to online learning, ICT and an inclusive perspective." - Dermod Madden, Associate-Superintendent, Aspen View School Division, in Educational Technology & Society, 17 (2)