15 June 2012

On "Hacking the Screwdriver: Instructure’s Canvas and the Future of the LMS"

And I agree with it completely. I look at the LMS or platform used in hybrid and online courses as a location in which learning and teaching occur. It becomes a microecosystem with the endeavor of learning and teaching at its center, and with the assumption that the endeavor of T&L is by definition a human endeavor. It's about people--teachers teaching and learners learning and with little exception, technology gets in the way of the people stuff. 

Educational technology advocates (I am one) talk about the transformative qualities of technology. It's a valid observation. The idea is that people think through the tools at hand and thus think and do stuff differently. I wanted to build a closet last weekend; I realized I needed to buy a drill. I have Skype; I can effortlessly visit with my mother in NY. We've all experienced it. 

However we don't know if differently is necessarily better. It may not be. Problem is we believe in the inherent rightness and goodness of technological progress, of doing things differently for the sake of it. We're then willing to accept the frustration, the drain on our time, brains and pockets in exchange for its well-designed promise. What I mean is that the well-designed promises that fuel our beliefs are nothing more than the discourse of technologies for L&T and education, a discourse with little critique from within. It's a bit like what Marxist scholar David Harvey's said: It's easier to envision the end of the world than the end of capitalism. 

I'm talking ideologies. Education has always been awash in competing ideologies.  

On the Ed Tech Discourse 

That the hig-tech industry advises Washington, and thus has a very strong influence on and stake in policy-making is rarely discussed as problematic. That historically, distance education has been  a means to economic and political ends hasn't been fully articulated in contemporary conversations about "online education." That U.S. job growth over the next decade will be greatest in low-wage jobs requiring no college education contradicts the current campaign to "get a college degree" at any cost. Finally, that learners are perceived as "customers" and teachers as "service providers" undermines the essence of good learning and good teaching.