Reflection on Digital Media in Education, Ethics and Epistemology

Very often our ethical choices are framed by what we know. Science helps us when inquired with the right methodologies and instruments, to know a snapshot of reality. There is a huge debate on how scientists, philosophers, social researchers and investors can support public discussion and public relations campaigns that are more “inclusive” for youth. Key people, at the peak of our democracy, should learn by mistakes made in the past to open and guarantee new perspectives of youth empowerment, as this class is destined to be protagonist of a dialog process and in future political turmoils able to accept the limits implied by epistemological ethics. Here science rationale and enterprise can offer educative examples of action.      

Our epistemology and knowledge is value-driven, nurtured by ethical choices made consciously or not. If this assumption is true, is clear that scientists ask themselves on the pre-concerns that guide their analytic approach to the world when is time to know (and maybe control some aspects of) it: the macro and the micro aspects are continuously negotiated to guarantee a unit vision.    

This argument of ethics based epistemology seems to be an argument that defines advanced attempt, proper of our western culture, to not separate the ethical, social and emotional aspects from hard science.

This is true if the idea of ethics-based epistemology is part of research able to advance our comprehension when we see ourselves go further in the demands of our profession, looking for ethical dimensions boosting and challenging our personal stories and broadened culture framework.

Within these terms, best practices oriented to consider and protect relationships and interdisciplinary approach of inquiry count, as they help and guide us – continuously – to embrace even the ethical considerations that create or recreate what counts in our society. This scenario implies that we are (almost) always active participants, even in the cases we are inactive or suspend every action and manifested interest towards what might have for us a value.

When we engage to build an ethical understanding, what we’re doing is fostering an ability to communicate a need. The one that proceeds in our audience – or addressed target – the ability to grow a dynamic, pluralistic and evolving emotional understanding.

Beautifully put as terrain of a (mutual) recognition and respect.

Search for the right answer is a way that defines more science, instead of ethics. The latter is the sphere where educators learn to observe and understand students’ needs and trends to engage in the social, active, and responsible process that would help them make the right decisions. Here, educators, scientists, our local community and all the key figures that shape current democratic forms of government, are asked to guarantee ongoing interdisciplinary reflections and revisions.

Considering my previous views, science embedded in the social, political and cultural realities of civic life can help us to make our story whole again when we decide to have the required instruments enabling us to reunite science with its ethical foundation.

Science is related to objectivity and progress, open to technical and experimental advancement embodied by our current –  not commonly perceived  – visible technology authority.

The centrality of science and technology advance in the lives of youth arose even important open questions about the nature of their competencies and literacy used to navigate between information and data in everyday life. Today we need to consider how youth is way more in social networks and online communication forms than us, and how they frame this priority looking to new forms of activism extending outside the aegis of a more “traditional” structure of civic life.

It appears to be that education is the determinant factor to guarantee that people relating with the world, no matter in which determinant and constitutive form it might assume, would autonomously reflect the practice of freedom, civic engagement and responsibility to conserve aspects that go for a better future society. We desire this continuous openness and learning citizenry forming a virtuous body that highlights this direct connection with education.

The phenomena that see formal education struggling to keep pace with social, media, technological and scientific advancements is nothing new. It happens when I was a student and is continuing now. The forms and manifestation might be slightly different, but a troublesome inability to keep pace with is the common denominator. This is one reason why I think that is important to maintain the dialogue open on how students learn to participate in their personal civic life, being able to embrace and maintain constant their eyes open on complicate aspects that regard other forms of culture. The ones that today are embedded in Asian, middle east and American political and “democratic” realities, influencing western society discussions, views and engagement in civic life.

The generation Z, or the Internet-connected generation, stick with their individual views and are generally very creative and open to experiment and explore new mediums of online information, participating in open communities related to a common interest. They are prepared for super-fast communication as their cognitive ability is, in fact, characterized by lightning speed. Here a claim, need to not just embellished with valid reasons, quoting instances, but also guided by experimental learning as a fundamental aspect that gives them a scaffolding for all that needs to be done.

In every step they see a challenge, looking to make changes to the status quo, putting a question mark on the traditional and “archaic” ways of intending work. This aspect is a constant in science development.

Many of the communication efforts of science and technology should think on youth awareness. Make this target more focused and aware of what has been done and on what might require now and even in the future activism and expert knowledge is a duty.
As Confucius pointed out “if you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.

Every intelligent educator and social activist recognize this aspect as a defining one of their personal nature and openness to the world. This connection, between critical thinking, education and individual students’ life is crucial.

Some questions that rise up in my mind, tracing these thoughts articulation, are the following:

  • Which are the favorites tactics or experimental forms that youth refer to exercise capacity to intervene in their online communities? In other words, which type of civic attitude (pedagogy) is the successful one to generate engagement in this particular space?
  • Which work is required, even in ethical and moral terms, to guarantee that these communicative forms grow in terms of quality?
  • What measures are required to ensure equal opportunities among youth that, we know, would always include the marginalized with environmental and familiar stimuli way more lower, confusing and incorrect stimuli in comparison with the privileged ones?

Youth, being a more general ensemble than our students, must be empowered to accomplish a community ethical work that involves a commitment to action, the pursuit of meaningful tasks and link the chosen actions to empower both their self-understanding and their community one.

They are usually representative of energy and secure, tenacious engagement nourished even by the magnitude of the educational system that shape and reward their efforts to understand values that merit to be shared with the world, in a daily privileged effort to talk, analyze, re-frame and learn about scientific and technological issues part of an enterprise when they feel protagonists, instead than just passive incubators.


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