The Centre for Education & CyberHumanity became a research group in November of 2014 under the auspices of Dean Harry Janzen and the Faculty of Education, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, BC, Canada. The original proposal for the Centre was written by Professors Julia Hengstler and (Dr.) Gail Krivel-Zacks with editing and support from Professor (Dr.) Rachel Moll.
- The Centre for Education & CyberHumanity is a research group dedicated to investigating prosocial knowledge, skills, attitudes, perceptions, experience and self-efficacy with regard to the integration of technology into society and the ways in which the education system can support the development of these attributes.
CyberHumanity is a term developed by J. Hengstler to describe a society where technology is closely interwoven into every day experience. It is a compound word created from “cyber” (referring to the culture of technology) and ‘humanity’ which simultaneously invokes “people” as well as humaneness, civility, ethics and understanding. As such, the term is used to describe a society where people are able to live with and use technology in prosocial ways to support continued human growth and development—a goal that the activities of the research group will help to realize.
Prosocial is a psychological term “relating to or denoting behaviour which is positive, helpful, and intended to promote social acceptance and friendship” (Prosocial, 2014).
RationalE for creation
Technology is an increasingly significant factor in the life of modern society—shaping the ways in which we learn, interact, work, and play. As Moll & Hengstler (2012) point out:
- The general public’s relationship with technology is still young—historically speaking—reaching back around 60 years while publicly funded education in Canada has been around for about 200 years. To put that in perspective, the evolution from mainframe computer to Apple iPad has occurred in a period shorter than the life expectancy of a child born this year  in 189 of the 221 countries ranked in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) World Factbook (2012). Similarly, public education’s relationship with technology is a relatively new phenomenon. It was not until the 1980s that technology began to gain a significant foothold in North American education (Murdock, n.d.). Moreover, the last 10-15 years have seen significant technological changes with the rise of Web 2.0 and the participatory web, and new hardware emerging in the form of web-enabled, user-friendly mobile devices. (2)
The rapid pace of technological innovation may make it challenging for society to integrate these new tools and shape their uses in ways aligned with prosocial development and values. Ogburn (1922) has referred to the period in which a society adapts to a technology as “cultural lag”. A truly modern society requires an approach that looks to anticipate and develop the requisite prosocial knowledge, skills, attitudes, perceptions, experience and self-efficacy with regard to technological integration in order to minimize cultural lag.
The education system has long been a vehicle for inculcating prosocial development and values; by extension, it should be well positioned to support prosocial development and values with technology in modern society. As Moll and Hengstler (2012) stated,
- Educators are uniquely situated to scaffold their students to leverage the interdependencies of society and technology in a way that has yet to be fully explored. Educators are well positioned to guide students—our future citizens—in technology use, skill development, relating to and through technology, and in thinking about technology in complex, systematic, and socially responsible ways.(2-3)
The purpose of The Centre for Education & CyberHumanity is to participate in research and knowledge generation in the area of identifying, developing, and disseminating promising practices for and to make use of educational institutions and all they encompass as vehicles for developing prosocial members of technological societies. The Centre for Education & CyberHumanity aims to better position educational institutions to support modern citizens’ humane and civil engagement with technology in beneficial ways. The Centre will engage in research into existing and emergent technological uses with social benefit—especially in the areas of teaching, learning, and human interaction—that are or could be supported through educational institutions. For interested educators, researchers, and society-at-large, The Centre for Education & CyberHumanity will provide information as well as theoretical and practical models to support the use of education as a vehicle for prosocial integration of technology into society. The members in the Centre for Education & CyberHumanity will reconnoiter the digital frontier to better prepare us for the future.
Moll, R. & Hengstler, J. (2012). Educating with social media: Policy & practice in British Columbia. Paper presented at annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, “Non Satis Scire: To Know Is Not Enough”, Vancouver, BC, AERA 2012 Proceeding 529949. Retrieved October 9, 2014 from http://www.aera.net/Publications/OnlinePaperRepository/AERAOnlinePaperRepository
Ogburn, W. (1922). Social change with respect to culture and original nature. New York: B.W. Huebsch, Inc. Retrieved October 9, 2014 from http://archive.org/stream/socialchangewith00ogburich/socialchangewith00ogburich_djvu.txt
Prosocial. (n.d). In Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/prosocial