We have tried to select examples that build on principles of adult learning and feminist pedagogy. Many show that holistic approaches can be compatible with new technologies; they include women teaching women or supporting women's learning, adult basic education and management training for Inuit in northern Canada. Technical and social support for the individual learner, the importance of interaction and feedback, and the significance of relating new learning to one's own life and experience are principles that inform these approaches.
Carol Gilligan has spoken of women's fear of "being too far out on the edge," but for some of our respondents, this is where they want to be. Like the female pioneers in the trades and technologies, the women who wander with comfort and ease in cyberspace not only exist in growing numbers but offer their hands to those less confident or fearful. As Dale Spender, a leading Australian authority on women's issues, said in a recent address to Australia's women's network for technical and vocational education and training: "There are only three things to be said about the computer and the Internet to put women's minds at rest: it doesn't hurt (it won't bite you), you won't break it and it won't make a mess."1 In Spender's view, there should be less emphasis on the technology and more emphasis on women's culture.
No one will argue whether the new technologies have been primarily colonized by men yet women are making their mark in software development. in technical writing, and as communications specialists, designers and innovators. To some, the computer in combination with the Internet embodies a potential and potent force towards "democratization" of learning and knowledge. As one of our respondents put it, 'The new technologies can give a woman, if she doesn't have a fear of using it, access to an incredible amount of resources and associated support for anything she wants to do."
The information presented here is also meant to provide examples of "good practice" or to illustrate the potential range of uses for technology. Our picture is based on information collected at a particular point in time and we invite you to add your own examples.
Some Criteria for Good Examples