Link to: The Rise and Fall of Educational Technology: Did We Miss the Point?

It’s taking a while to get caught up after the Thanksgiving break. Apparently, educational technology died while I was on vacation, and I missed it! There’s much in this long artlcle that I agree with–particularly reflecting on the class we’re finishing up on Educational Technology Planning.

As technology permeates every discipline to some degree or another, the field of educational technology is growing dramatically, and it’s really hard for any course to avoid being a mile wide and an inch deep. Sebastian Foti lists a half a dozen topics that we didn’t even consider or merely waved at.

For example, there is the history of computing; using the computer for things such as word processing, building databases, making movies, creating music, developing budgets, creating charts. . . doing educational “research” and becoming familiar with famous researchers; learning about laws related to computer use; understanding innovation diffusion; and much, much more.

While there were lots of topics that we didn’t get to, the group project in creating our Drupal community site gave everyone some experience in bridging the gap between theory and practice:

Thinking about hypermedia interfaces adds a dimension to the communication stream that goes beyond building convincing textual arguments. It forces one to think about the vast number of variables associated with perception. More importantly, More importantly, it challenges the notion that the author is in control.

Foti’s point is well taken in that even if constructionism accurately describes individual learning (which I believe it does), developers have to work beyond their own learning to anticipate and understand the perceptions of the users of a website or piece of software–users that they probably will never “meet.” Until someone starts making decisions about what piece of code goes where, the website is just a blank piece of paper. (Well virtual paper, maybe.) Code, not magic creates, software. Our experience was summed up perfectly by the following:

Such development empowers learners by putting them in charge of hundreds, perhaps thousands of decisions. The “product” represents the instantiation of all of those decisions and it can provide pride not granted by a mandatory, directed writing assignment

The section on how do we fix it is has some good ideas as well.

  1. Encourage the use of media.
  2. Bring academic computing back into teacher discussions.
  3. Help students develop tools for students.
  4. Don’t think about how.
  5. Expand the dialog.