Open Thinkering


How educational technology should change

Web 2.0 Conference

Tim Holt has an America-centric – but nevertheless useful – go at educational technology leaders in a recent post entitled Dear Ed Tech Leaders. You should read Tim’s post, but to summarise giving it my own unique twist:

1. Conferences should be free

I’m off to a conference during my half-term on Tuesday/Wednesday this week. I’m really looking forward to it, but it’s costing my school over Β£500 (including train/hotel) to send me, which is scandalous. Granted, it’s run by companies rather than the government, but I see it as fairly essential for my professional development.

2. Regional conventions

There are some meet-ups, but no real ‘conventions’ in the true sense. Yes, the SSAT do some work in this area, but it’s all very formal. Where’s the grassroots? Where’s the structures within which teachers can collaborate and innovate?

3. Free information

This is something I suspect governments and organisations around the world are guilty of: trying to shackle knowledge. That’s a very 20th century way of doing things. Why would you want to pay to get into the ‘inner sanctum’ (i.e. join organisations, societies, etc.) when there’s better information on the Internet for free?

4. Change your message and your audience

Instead of talking to nodding dogs who already do what you’re suggesting, why not get in educators who may not even have heard of what you’re talking about? It’s not the safe option, but it will drive education forward a lot more quickly. That’s what’s all about – delivering pedagogically-sound educational technology solutions to those who haven’t heard. To put it another way, we’re spreading the word rather than keeping it as a ‘secret’ amongst a select few. πŸ˜€

5. You have to show us how to actually use all this stuff

This is where pedagogy comes in. It’s not good enough just to show teachers how blogs work: you need to show how they can work with students. I try and do this by reflecting on my practice over at If you’d like help with anything I’ve done or seen that may be of relevance, then please get in touch!

(via Stephen Downes)

3 thoughts on “How educational technology should change

  1. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

    I wrote that blog entry after listening to about the 1000000th person telling me the “World is Flat” and that kids today are “digital natives.”

    It seems that all of these people are coming from the same mold, talking to the same crowd at the same conferences (just change the city).

    Glad you liked it enough to link it.

    El Paso Texas

  2. I like the idea of more person to person contact, rather than large, impersonal cons. I’d say blogs are a great way to get that going — but whose responsibility is it to get the people talking? I’d say the people themselves…hence me commenting here.

    It’s true that there is a great deal of good, ‘free’ information online. But there’s also the old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ — and although maybe that reasoning has broken down over the years, with the Internet, individuals and organizations may have a hard time devoting enough time to research and testing of methods, software, and so on if they can’t make something for their efforts. I only have just so much time in my day. If I could pay the bills and devote all my time to finding new means of teaching, and sharing them with others, that’d be great – but that’s not realistic at this point. I don’t think it’s fair to blame people for trying to gain from their own work.

    Now, I couldn’t agree more that too often the techies preach to the early adopters, and the early adopters to each other. It serves to spread knowledge around, but only within the group that is already using it. In order for significant institutional change to take place, “the new” needs to be utilized consistently across a much wider spectrum than it is now.

    As for pedagogy, I just posted on my own blog about that very issue — just having new tech doesn’t mean you’ll accomplish anything more. If the latest resources are used with the most antiquated methods, nothing but a smokescreen results: things LOOK updated, but in reality they aren’t (just more expensive). New tech demands new methods, and some of the best methods are facilitated by the newest tech.

    Unfortunately I don’t see pedagogy in the driver’s seat when edtech is the subject. I see companies pushing their tech ‘solutions’ and administrators spending gobs of the taxpayers’ money on them, in hopes that these programs, initiatives, and systems will solve the problems. The reality is that people will, or won’t solve the problems in education — not the tools they use.

    Your thoughts?


  3. Jeremy, you’re absolutely right when it comes to technology adoption – pedagogy often lags behind, unfortunately. Have you read Crossing the Chasm? It includes this helpful diagram:
    The problem is, at least in the UK, that schools have budgets set aside for technology (e-learning credits, etc.) which are use it or lose it. Companies know this. Thus, a lot of money is wasted on stuff which isn’t really up-to-task.
    In my opinion and experience, the best results come from tools adopted for use in educational situations, as pedagogy has to be considered for it to have any sort of impact. πŸ™‚

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