I think there is a fine grey line between an altruistic sense of boundless opportunity and a chaotic “Wild West” style void of authority afforded by technology in the field of education. This is exacerbated by the curious amnesia noted by Weller (2020). Perhaps this forgetfulness is not so much that people believe they have invented or discovered something brand-new with iterations and/or novel tools, but more the unique applications and personal experiences with developments built upon prior work. It strikes me that many of the “new” tools we use today in learning and technology are constructed from components of technology stretching back much farther than I was aware. Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s brilliant work in the 1980s endures as foundational and integral to so much of the technology that we laud as new and cutting-edge today. Somehow it seems that too often we reinvent the wheel, duplicating work and expending unnecessary resources. Is this history repeating itself; an evolutionary process and a sacrifice to autonomy and creativity? Or worse, is consumerism and elitism driving educational technology in circles?
I might argue that educational technology has existed since anatomically opposing digits, and that pedagogy embedded in sociological theory could be the background tapestry for a book highlighting digital educational technology. Common threads that Weller identifies around social learning and how technology can be used to mitigate problems are woven throughout his chapters on unique technologies, and I believe that these are the true starting places to remedy our pervasive amnesia. If we consider existing problems or issues and how we might solve them, then consider existing technology, perhaps we might progress in a more linear fashion towards solutions.
Having said all that in such an authoritative and theoretical manner, I would also suggest that we honour the shape and structure of circles, both in thinking and in practice. We need to sit and hold communal histories before stepping forward, or leaping to the next “latest and greatest” in our practice.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.