After completing the readings for this module I was annoyed. I mean, I’m always annoyed after reading articles as my critical analysis is based on being a know-it-all, but to be fair to myself I feel like I have a genuine gripe with Weller’s piece, Twenty Years of Edtech. To Weller’s credit, I found the article exhaustive and informative; I didn’t know about several of the technologies that had been used in education, and I thought he did a good job of describing each in a way that was easy to understand regardless of my own knowledge on the technology. Furthermore, I enjoyed being provided with dates for Edtech advents…I was surprised by how old some of the Edtech was. For instance, I had no idea Wikis came to prominence in 1998. So Weller’s article did teach me some new things, but I was frustrated with a trend I have noticed in Edtech discussions/examinations.
Weller’s article is basically a list; he describes Edtech in their emerging years, and then provides details on why they came to be. In each section, he describes how the technology was meant to be a type of universal fix for the previous technology developed. Of course, this was never the reality with any of the technologies. Obviously, this is not Weller’s fault, but I feel he should not have bothered speaking to how one tech aimed to replace another…because, who cares?
Well…the technology developers, decision makers, the educators looking for the next big thing. But that is the problem: Edtech doesn’t need a catch-all, universal technology. As a professional educator, is it not my responsibility to facilitate learning for my students by finding the most appropriate technology to drive/supplement their learning? As long as I am adequately trained on the different technologies available, I would be able to choose the Edtech most fitting for the task at hand. When we start ranking different categories of Edtech against one another, we ignore the fact that each technology was developed for a purpose nonidentical to the previous; while the end goals might overlap at times, the methodologies the technologies present are all different from each other.
Overall, I see this trend of ranking Edtech as a common exercise in both my work and training, and find it to be a frustrating waste. If a pair of technologies are in direct competition with each other as they aim to achieve the same goals through the same means, that is one thing. But in any other case, let’s stop asking questions about where PLEs, MOOCs, or Open Textbooks stack up. Instead, perhaps can we make a grid of specifications, pros, and cons of the various technologies?