Introductory thoughts on The History of Ed Tech, a journey through time with Martin Weller

Marin Weller’s (2020) book “25 years of Ed Tech” is an interesting read for anyone in the field, or anyone interested in following a journey of evolution and challenge.

One aspect of the first 1/3 of this book that really hits home with me (and as I progress through the novel, surely will continue to) is the theme of failure. Weller speaks of theories, technologies, instructional techniques, and standards failing (think lecture hall mentalities, teacher driven facilitation methods, e-learning standards, and learning objects). In fact, he goes so far as to say that “some technologies have very specific applications, some die out, and others morph to a universal application Specifically in relation to bulletin board systems, but I cannot help but read through this historical compilation and think that in reality, the only truth in that statement is that all of the industries failures have morphed or helped to shape future iterations of educational advancement through technology.

On an unrelated note, I appreciated Weller’s hubris in acknowledging that he too, made claims or had opinions that turned out to be, well, factually wrong.

Another small, but personally striking aspect was the descriptions of distance learning in the 90s, and the ‘distance learning’ that we are engaging in today. My mother completed her bachelor’s degree in the 90s through Douglas College, entirely through distance learning. Her experience was… solitary. Little interaction with her peers, and little opportunity to move her learning outside of the “authorized resources”. I remember the frustration that would encompass our spare room as she studied alone, with no peers to context-check her, or provide additional perspectives. My experience in the MALAT program thus far has been the opposite. I feel connected to my cohort, and it almost feels premature to settle on an opinion or interpretation without seeking out the thoughts of my peers. This, to me, is the failure cycle in action.

These are two small, brief comments on Weller’s book thus far. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes my mind in the chapters to come.

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of ed tech. AU Press.

3 thoughts on “Introductory thoughts on The History of Ed Tech, a journey through time with Martin Weller”

  1. Hi Paula,

    I agree with your thoughts – it was interesting to read about the evolution of certain tech. One that piqued my interest was the e-portfolios vs. blogs. I am not entirely clear what enterprise e-portfolio sites Weller refers and I was left wondering…are these sites still in use? I’ve always seen portfolios developed on blog platforms and this is how our department approaches portfolios with our students.

    Thanks for sharing your story about your mother and her experiences doing distance learning…that definitely sounds like it was isolating for her! I have been pleasantly surprised about the community I have felt a part of at RRU. It wasn’t something I was entirely expecting studying online…but it’s easily been the best part of my studies!

  2. Hi Paula,
    I made a similar connection to the early advent of distance education with respect to our learning, and the great cohort we are a part of! I also noted that Weller states social elements such as introductions and establishing roles were considered time-consuming and frustrating by students in the early days of distance education. I would argue that this frustration continues today. The time required to build relationships online continues to be a labourious effort, for example in group work: deciding schedules, developing team charters, and synchronous/asynchronous meet-ups or check-ins, are important components of team success, yet they are time-consuming. I wonder when group work was incorporated into a learning expectation/outcome and look forward to reading Weller’s take on this (which looks like Connectivism/Chapter 17).


  3. Hi Paula,
    Your mother must have had a lot of resolve and motivation to do distance ed back then. I remember withdrawing from a Geology class at TRU over 15 years ago. We too had our textbooks shipped in the mail and we had a once a week “cafe chat” with other students. The interface was very convoluted and student participation was minimal. We had to mail our paper assignments to the professor and he would send our feedback to us through the post. I know that we have come along way even just the last few years. I realized for someone like myself I do terribly when working alone. I really need they social aspect.

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