As I prepare for the trip to Niagara Falls next week for the Bring IT, Together Conference, I’m reminded that we just didn’t get to this point in our use of technology overnight. It’s been a while as noted in this article Twenty Years of Edtech.
I’m also reminded that technology has been around in education for much longer than 20 years. This year, ECOO itself will celebrate its own 30th anniversary. But, pssst, there were those of us who used technology in schools much longer than even that.
But, back on point here. In the article, they mention a number of technology landmarks by year – here are my personal thoughts on them.
I always thought that the wiki was the great entry point for many. Until the concept of wikis and the developments of platforms, web presences were painfully crafted using HTML and editors. Now, you create an account and are immersed in an editor that’s capable of doing darn near anything that you want.
For many, the notion of E-Learning sometimes called eLearning or e-learning was a little scary. The first implementations were often just a digital port of correspondence courses. As we know, in Ontario, it turned into a very powerful and accessible form for many. In some schools where there aren’t enough students to offer a course, this has been a blessing.
2000: Learning Objects
Who didn’t curate their own collection of “good things for the classroom”? There was so much available that you didn’t want to lose track of them! Who knew that they’d create their own term of “objects”? The only real challenge is to revisit these objects and see if they still are as valid today as when you first found them.
2001: E-learning Standards
I find this interesting because the whole concept of E-learning continues to evolve. The nice thing about standards is that they can often round up those who want to head in diverse directions.
2002: Open Educational Resources (OER)
I think this is a magnificent concept and probably the least used of resources. So much great content has been developed and made so available. It also taught a whole generation the evolving concept of copyright.
You too can be an influencer. Just start and promote your own blog. From hobby to professional endeavour so much has been accomplished with this utility. Sharing thoughts is so easy. Sadly, this has also allowed for the creation of gigabits of cruft in abandoned blogs.
2004: The LMS
If there’s a tie that binds so much in technology and education, it’s the development and refinement of Learning Management Systems. There are some good, some bad, and everyone has their opinion. In my estimation, there is no perfect LMS but the world is working on it.
For many, this was a biggy. Cheap cameras and free uploads for your own video creation turned your computer or other device into a television playback unit. The sad thing, though, is that seldom do we have attention for much longer videos than 2 or 3 minutes. TED talks can be insufferable. Have we lost the ability to focus?
2006: Web 2.0
Throw them out. 1.0 is out and 2.0 is in. A web were anyone can participate and be a consumer or a developer with rich tools has evolved and become a reality. If you look long enough, you can find a resource that will support any position you may want to make.
2007: Second Life and Virtual Worlds
I tried to embrace this concept. I mean, I immersed myself in Doom so why not a virtual world that would allow me to be productive and constructive? I’ve failed on this one and still don’t get it as being more than a curiosity these days.
Somewhere along the line, becoming paperless became fashionable and those stuffy old portfolio binders started to show their age. Why not create something digital for a portfolio to show what you can do and who you are? Heck, you can even do edits in the waiting room before your interview. Try doing that with a paper portfolio.
2009: Twitter and Social Media
Personally, this is the one that turned me on in so many different directions. I’ve always taken pride in my ability to create things. These media allow me to share serious thoughts, funny things, and predictions with anyone who just happened to stumble upon me. These technologies have made email seem pedestrian.
But, of course, if works best when there are people that actually are attracted to your work and similarly being attracted by me back at them. The principles of connectivism let me connect with darn near anyone I want at any time I choose. No longer are students “stuck” with learning with the 25 people that you’re assigned to go to class with.
And yet, there was more. Of all of the things digital, the “P” for personal was the big motivator for me. I could choose to connect with those who I want and for my own reasons. You learn very quickly who is worthwhile learning with. The drawback is that, at times, people just drop off the face of the earth it seems.
I’m probably the biggest failure story when it comes to MOOCs. I’ve given them a shot; I really have. Maybe I’ve just chosen ones that were less than the best or best at engagement but I’m your typical joiner and the leaver because of lack of commitment on my part.
2013: Open Textbooks
In a world where textbooks can break the bank of just about anyone, the notion of the open textbook is really intriguing. The big loser would of course be authors and publishing companies. I suspect thought that this will take on a life of its own and will be the future of textbooks.
2014: Learning Analytics
Gone are the days of trusting a student that she did her homework. With the learning analytics that many LMS have built into them you can track so much that the data becomes overwhelming and of less use. Still, there’s something intriguing about tracking the learning in manner. Of course, we still get our backs up when companies track us…
2015: Digital Badges
The Boy Scout in me loves this concept. Demonstrate an ability and earn a badge to show the world that you have got it right. Of course, to be effective, you need a blog or wiki or something else digital to display them. The downside is that there are so many badges that are essentially “participant” ones so you really have to judge before being impressed.
2016: The Return of AI
It’s hard not to avoid discussion and examples of Artificial Intelligence. It’s tagged in so many places as the next game changer. Some of the horror stories that made for great scare movies and novels years ago are close to or are actually coming to fruition. This isn’t going to go away so we, as a society, need to direct it to do good things.
This is still a concept that I’m trying to wrap my head around and, if I ever do that, try to find a way to incorporate it into education. I’m torn between thinking this is the ultimate way of ensuring privacy to thinking that it may well be a red flag for the bad guys to attack.
So, this article was about a year old and the author left us hanging half-way through 2018.
There are many issues of interest, to be sure. In my mind, the whole notion of security and vulnerability is of primary concern. I think we’ve all seen someone’s head superimposed on someone else’s body. Or we use green screen to place someone in a different reality. Hey, we even teach that in school. It’s easy to blur between reality and fallacy and it’s become so easy to create these things yourself. Literacy and understanding all this is huge.
Lots has happened in edtech throughout the years. Only a fool would think that they’ve done it all and the learning has stopped. That’s why events like Bring IT, Together are so powerful. The learning and connections are so valuable.
I hope to see you there.