I appreciate Weller’s overarching theme of the integrality of people in the topic of educational technology in his book, 25 Years of Ed Tech. We quickly lose perspective in the face of exciting new technology, and before we know it, the cart is before the horse, or perhaps even crushing the horse!
Selection of technologies for educational use should be made with careful consideration of their accessibility, or it may lead to frustration and possibly eventual abandonment. This is an issue that Weller touches on in multiple chapters, but particularly in Chapter 14, “Second Life and VIrtual Worlds.” Barriers to accessibility may include cost, specifications of hardware and/or internet service, and what he defines as vertical software that has a “high threshold of participation” due to its complexity. I have seen decisions made to adopt particular technology, for example fillable PDFs for student worksheets, or a virtual world app to host classes, that seemed like perfect solutions and exciting, cutting-edge modes of learning, but turned out to be frustrating and unsustainable due to the cost of software to support, rigidity of function on different operating systems, insufficient hardware or internet, and other complications. Weller’s advice to consider “a more selective and appropriate application now that enough general familiarity with the technology has been acquired” is wise and increases accessibility.
Ownership of one’s learning, and more specifically, of one’s e-portfolio, is a seemingly elusive dream in education that we continue to chase. In Chapter 15, “2008 E-Portfolios” Weller notes several factors that may increase user satisfaction with e-portfolios: focus on the users rather than the tools or institution, accessibility, and portability would all increase user ownership. In my organization, we have designed a program in which learners create an e-portfolio over the course of five years using tools of their choice, but we do recommend two primary tools that are integrated into our organization and courses, and to a degree, this contradicts Weller’s lessons regarding user satisfaction and ownership. Unsurprisingly, this argument brings us full-circle back to selection of technologies and their impact on learning.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.