I’ve been reading Martin Weller’s book titled, 25 Years of Ed Tech. It’s an historical recounting of Weller’s experience as a professor of educational technology at Open University in the UK with the development of ed tech over a twenty-five year period beginning in 1994.
Was 1994 the appropriate year to start with?
I think so. The book that Weller set out to write is a history of how web based digital technology has had an impact on education, not a history on educational technology in general. Certainly, educational technology was in use prior to 1994 and took many forms, but in order for this book to be focused and concise, Weller would have had to make a decision on what to include and when to begin. Lunduke (2017) indicated that Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), the topic of the first chapter of 25 Years of Ed Tech, had been in use since the eighties. Having said that, Weller (2020) admitted in the introduction of his book that he’s “guilty of… being rather arbitrary in allocating a specific year to any given technology“ (p. 6). The book had to begin somewhere, and the transition between BBS and the web was certainly a pivotal moment into the era which is the central theme of this history. So, this seems like a logical place to start.
Reactions to Weller’s Writing
One of main themes of Weller’s (2020) book that has so far stood out to me is the “historical amnesia of educational technology” (p. 11). This concept reinforces Santayana’s (1905/2017) frequently misquoted passage, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (p. 132). This theme was most obviously illustrated to me when Weller outlined Carr-Chellman and Duschatel’s (2000, as cited in Weller, 2020) application of constructivism theory in the development of the ideal online course. The list of recommended components are so familiar…
- An online study guide
- No online textbook
- Examples of previous student’s work
- Student-to-student communication
- Interactive skill building
This list holds up so well, despite being twenty years old and created in the infancy of online learning, and yet I feel like those who are developing online courses for the first time in the post COVID-19 educational environment, are discovering these concepts for the first time as though they were new.
Lunduke, B. (August 28, 2017). History of computers, part 1 – The bulletin board system. Network World. https://www.networkworld.com/article/3220488/history-of-computers-part-1-the-bulletin-board-system.html
Santayana, G. (2017). The life of reason. ProQuest Ebook Central. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca (Original work published 1905)
Weller, M. (2020). 25 years of ed tech. Athabasca University Press. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781771993050.01