• Books,  metaphor

    Dangers of tech metaphors in nature

    In Metaphors of Ed Tech I suggested that we should approach metaphors drawn from nature with caution, writing: “it is worth emphasising that metaphors drawn from nature are probably the most prevalent, and the most dangerous, of metaphors. Making appeals to what is deemed ‘natural’ and applying it to any form of human endeavour has led to justifications for social Darwinism, misogyny and repression, with the implication that certain states are naturally occurring and therefore inevitable.” But the opposite is also true – we need to be wary of technological metaphors applied to nature. I came to appreciate this because I’ve been reading Merlin Sheldrake’s intriguing overview of fungal life…

  • e-learning,  history,  metaphor

    What’s in a name? Early internet metaphors

    My friend and all round good chap, Rajiv Jhangiani, dropped me a message asking for my favourite current metaphor about the web for a talk he is giving. This set me thinking about some of the early labels we used for the internet and the web, and what they tried to convey. If you are old enough, cast your mind back to the late 90s when the web (and wider awareness of the internet more generally) was still new, and we were trying to understand what it was, and what it could do. Metaphors are very powerful in this respect as they provide a bridge from the familiar to the…

  • metaphor

    So, it’s about sharks, right?

    In my previous post I talked about my uneasy foray into self promotion for my book, Metaphors of Ed Tech (did I mention I have a book out?). One key aspect of this is to have a clear visual identity. This makes posts on social media immediately recognisable and makes the book stand out from stock imagery photo type covers of young people pointing enthusiastically at computer screens. The GO-GN project has managed this better than almost any project I’ve worked on, through the theme of penguins, as drawn by Bryan Mathers. 25 Years of Ed Tech had a great Bryan cover (and remixer), so it was natural to call…

  • metaphor

    Enduring self promotion

    As you may be aware (I think I mentioned it once or twice), my book Metaphors of Ed Tech came out last week. Unless you’re a major author or published by a publisher with a massive marketing budget, it means a certain amount of self-promotion falls to the academic. For (some) academics this is extremely uncomfortable, and goes something like this “cough, oh, sorry to bother you, I appear to have published a book, it’s probably nonsense, no need to worry, thanks, sorry again”. Which is a shame because books take a lot of time to bring to fruition, and readers may even like them. I follow a Facebook group,…

  • Books,  metaphor

    Metaphors of Ed Tech is out!

    My 6th book (yes, we’re keeping count like Tarantino movies) is out now, published by Athabasca University Press. It’s openly licensed, with digital copy free to read (the print version should be available next month). It looks at a range of metaphors relating to educational technology, divided into the following sections: I like to think there’s something in there for everyone, even if you don’t like or agree with all the metaphors. I had three main intentions in writing the book (apart from the ego kick of writing a book): I think it’s a useful book, but hey, don’t take my word for it, look what Mark Brown said: Weller…

  • book writing,  Books,  metaphor

    Metaphors of Ed Tech – coming June!

    My next book, Metaphors of Ed Tech has got a release date – June 2022 from the awesome Athabasca University Press. It’ll be open access again, CC licensed. It can be seen as a sort of companion piece to 25 Years of Ed Tech, but stands alone. It’s a collection of metaphors about ed tech, but also a plea to reframe how we think about technology in education. It is also, I think, erm, fun. Mainly though it is a vehicle to get Bryan Mathers to draw a Jaws-inspired cover. I love this so much that I have set up a Spreadshirt shop where you can buy mugs and t-shirts…

  • edtech,  metaphor

    Why “Uber for education” metaphors are flawed (and just rubbish)

    I blogged last week about the ‘Netflix for learning” metaphors doing the rounds currently. These are just the latest incarnation in the long running analogy [Insert current tech business] for education/learning. It’s so predictable that I created a random generator for it. What follows is an extract from the upcoming Metaphors of Ed Tech book, which sets out why this type of metaphor is both not very useful, and also potentially harmful in developing effective ed tech. _____________________________________________________________ There is a very strange tendency in technology writing to take any successful business and view it as a universal acid that burns through everything. It seems the most accessible metaphor for…

  • Asides,  calling bullshit,  metaphor

    Ed Tech Pitch generator

    I have a chapter in my Metaphors book on the “Uber for education” type metaphor – ie taking the latest hot technology and applying to education. The “Netflix for learning” one has been doing the rounds again recently. I’ll expand on why these are bad metaphors in another post, but for now: Are you a journalist who needs a quick ed tech story? Do you want to create an ed tech venture capitalist pitch to get money and headlines? Are you tired of having to come up with ideas all on your own? Then behold! The Ed tech pitch generator. Just hit the button and problem solved! Enjoy.

  • metaphor,  onlinepivot

    Why returning to the lecture only model is a bad idea

    via GIPHY What follows is an extract from my forthcoming book, Metaphors of Ed Tech. I’ve published it here in response to some truly awful reporting and political posturing recently which is again promoting the notion that the lecture is the only way to conduct higher ed. Online ed is being chastised as inferior, often by the same people who decry that education hasn’t changed in 100 years. Given that it was online education that pretty much saved education last year when the precious lecture model failed so spectacularly, this rather has the sense of one of those horror films where the hero survives the monsters only to be shot…

  • Film,  metaphor,  onlinepivot

    Death Star vs Storm Trooper investment

    Let us put aside the whole being evil and blowing up planets part of the Empire for now (although, admittedly that is a large part of their brand), and simply focus on the most efficient use of resources. Imagine you are Chief Imperial Budget Setter for the Empire. Over Christmas I rewatched the Star Wars movies. And boy, do those Empire guys not learn the lesson about centralisation of resources. Three times they create an epic planet destroyer only to have it blown up by someone pressing the ‘Destroy Death Star’ shiny button. There has been some good work on the economics of the Death Star and Rebel Alliance. But…