In reflecting on Weller’s discussion of educational technologies (2020), I strongly connected to the reoccurring theme of collaboration. Collaboration resonates with my own experiences as an educator, but it is also an interesting lens for the public criticisms of the online learning as we attempted to adjust education during a pandemic.
Weller refers frequently to how the collaboration of educators was influential in a technology’s adoption into education. Weller’s summary of bulletin board systems refers to the “use of academic real estate” (13). This is an effective term to refer to how educators need to selectively expend their time and energy. Through collaboration they can share this burden. Again, in the chapter on learning objects, Weller explains how elements of learning objects survived through consortiums of subscribed educators. This reminds me of the Western Canadian Learning Network (WCLN) on which our school relies for our own content and is what makes it possible for DL schools in BC to offer diverse courses. It seems from Weller’s summaries that those technologies that survived to be adopted into education were adopted because there was a collaborative effort to share information and thereby share the burden of time and energy.
As a firm advocate of Distributed Learning, I struggle with the criticisms of BC’s schools’ online model that was adopted after Spring break. I hear “well we know that that didn’t work” from colleagues, senior administration, and government officials. Rather than dismissing it as failure, we could all gain more from reflecting on why it failed. The primary reason for its assumed failure is that there was little opportunity for collaborative planning and a motivation driven by panic rather than sound pedagogical theory. I admit, that prior to this book, the history of educational technology was a self-centered one that lived within my own experiences. The history that Weller presents could have helped us all in the transition in response to the pandemic. Instead of reliving some of history’s mistakes we could have moved forward collaboratively with focus and support.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.