Initial Thoughts on Chapters 1-8 of 25 Years of Ed Tech
It’s been really interesting reading Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech. While I shared many of the earlier experiences (BBS, IRC and AOL’s horrible experience (and their “coasters“), teaching myself HTML in ’95-’96, using Encarta and watching it’s replacement by Wikipedia) some of these items have been new to me in the past few years since earning my GCID, namely Constructivism and SCORM. Reading this has been like having an alternate portal into times I have lived through as my use of modern tech in eLearning has been limited. I do feel like Weller’s written voice (which is refreshingly informal) would lend itself well to including either narrative (like Steven Levy’s Hackers) or including anecdotes from others in the eLearning field, perhaps as “chapters” between the current chapters. This would add more weight and remove the admittedly limited view that Weller acknowledges within the first few sentences (as broad and experienced as that view is). For instance, I wonder how his view and experience differs from those here in Canada or even further abroad, including so-called Third World countries.
Not having much knowledge of the history other than the courses I have taken so far, and papers I have read, I feel like (technologically-speaking) he has started in a good place. I would have liked to have heard how technology from earlier times, for instance the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, entered in to things. Computers have been revolutionary, but I feel there would be more to say about the topic had it been taken back further to include tape, projectors, early uses of computers in classrooms, etc. Even including more about Britain’s own use of television in learning, why it happened and what challenges they experienced, would provide a helpful backdrop. While it would make it a different book, I feel it would add necessary breadth to the “why’s” of what technologies the book leads with.
With all that said, I am excited to read and learn more, particularly with regard to seeing how Learning Objects influenced OER, as well as the section on Personal Learning Environments. I’m curious how this has been, and is being, combined to allow students to receive more personalized learning. I’m also curious to learn more about things that are, currently, both over my head and things I’ve never thought of applying to learning, such as Blockchain and AI.
Edited (9:43 AM on 6/9/20) to include Tags and the following:
Having read George’s initial thoughts, it struck me that I should explain with regard to Access, that this is part of why I am curious to see other views included. For example, when I went to South Africa in December of ’99, cellphones were ubiquitous while computers were not. I had never owned a cellphone but I had grown up with and around computers. I have memories of programming BASIC as a 5-6 year old … along with playing River Raid (my favourite game at the time), as well as using Commodore PET’s in grade school. My wife’s first experience with using a computer, meanwhile, was after meeting me in 2001; She had already had a cellphone for several years. When Blackberry came out, many in South Africa grabbed them because, along with keyboards and free texting, they included free (if limited) internet.
In a country where there is no right to access for schooling (all school, including primary school), not only is access to information an issue, but access to learning how to access that information is privileged. Learning in a South African context, then is still very, very much about access to information. To my understanding, much of Africa is in a similar boat, if not with regard to right to access, at least in context of access to internet. Cellphones are still a pay-per-use platform and so eLearning, in an African context, would still be limited in how it is presented due not to data rates but data caps. (This doesn’t even bring into the conversation the amount of times the undersea data cables to South Africa have been cut over the years.)
Given the current pandemic there is a good deal of focus on the experience of rural Canadians, whose access to information is hugely limited by the current high-speed internet infrastructure. In an African context, we had a fantastic cellphone infrastructure with much lower cellphone fees. At the same time, the country is also significantly smaller than Canada and far more densely populated. This is why, to me, it would be interesting to understand how this affected not only a British experience, but also Canadian and abroad, so that there is more context in how to approach the issues we experience currently. In reality, as Christopher points out, the scope of the book did need to be limited and so it may be that there is a need for this to be a separate “product” than to augment the current writing.