• edtech

    What is the purpose of educational technology?

    I don’t mean that title as a rhetorical, smartass, question, but rather a more fundamental one. It’s probably not one we ask ourselves very often, we tend to be caught up in the application of a particular technology, or trying to solve a specific problem. But at the more abstract level, what do you think educational technology is for? When we adopt it, what is the purpose we are intending it to fulfil? I expect the answer will vary depending on technology or context, and not be limited to one function overall. But of you had to answer the question “what is the main purpose of educational technology?” at a…

  • AI

    True voyage is return

    In revisiting the 25 Years of Ed Tech book for the 30 years podcast, I’ve been struck by how often I find myself saying things along the lines of “we’re seeing this again now with AI” or “this came to the fore again during the pandemic”. The snobbery about elearning that was espoused during the late 90s? It was there again in the attitude towards online learning after the pandemic. The myth of cheap elearning? See the excitement over AI generated content. The desire to share and reuse learning content easily? Revisited during the online pivot. Second Life islands and virtual campuses? Hello metaverse. And so on. I guess it’s…

  • higher ed

    November round-up

    I’ve had one of those months that has been superficially busy, but when I look back on it, I can’t point to anything particularly significant. Sometimes it’s just about doing the work I guess. One thing I did do was, along with some colleagues, complete an interesting internal project on community amongst open degree students. Creating a sense of community, or belonging, is important for students, there’s plenty of evidence that student who make those connections tend to persist in their studies, for example. It is more difficult for distance education students, obviously, as a lot of that community arises pretty seamlessly on campus. It is even more difficult to…

  • 25yearsedtech,  digital scholarship

    The never-ending story

    When I used to talk and write about digital/open scholarship a lot back around 2012, my go-to example related to the work Katy Jordan had done around MOOC completion rates. It was a good example of unintended, positive consequences of operating in the open, the benefits of sharing and the relationship between traditional and digital practice. A new, more self-centred version would relate to 25 Years of Ed Tech. It started as a blog series, became an openly licensed book, then a community audiobook which begat a podcast series, and has since returned to an ongoing blog series of 30 years of Ed Tech. All of this relied on the…

  • digital scholarship,  higher ed

    Don’t be excellent

    There is an understandable focus on quality and excellence in higher education – we have centres of excellence, the Research Excellence Framework, the Teaching Excellence Framework. Excellence or death is the unwritten motto. And I get it, a Centre for Mediocrity might not make the same splash in a prospectus. As an aside, can we _all_ be excellent, it implies to me something above the ordinary, and if excellence becomes the norm, then that is then ordinary, and therefore not excellent? But philosophical semantics is not the point of this post, rather the continued pressure to always be excellent or striving for excellence can be counter productive. The message that…

  • higher ed

    Here we are now, entertain us

    Via Ted Gioia’s hugely informative newsletter I came across a report from entertainment data analysts Luminate looking at trends in Q3 of 2023. In it they claim that 50% of people’s waking hours is spent engaged in entertainment. 50%! They don’t reveal their data or methodology so I can’t say how valid that figure is, but they are serious analysts so it’s not plucked from the air. Don’t people work? What I guess this attests to is the portability of entertainment – you can be watching TV, listening to a podcast as you commute, work out or walk the dogs. Even at work you can be consuming music as background.…

  • conference,  GO-GN,  monthly roundup

    October round up

    Hosting a two day GO-GN workshop in Edmonton followed by the OEGlobal conference was the main activity of this month. This was the first conference post pandemic for many people, and it was good to reacquaint myself with many of the global contingent. It was also a tad wistful as it’s likely to be my last OEGlobal and possibly last international conference. So, I was potentially seeing a lot of people for the last time potentially. I got to go out on a social high note though with a trip to see the Edmonton Oilers play with these good people: While we’re talking about OER conferences, the OER24 call for…

  • conference,  open education,  OU

    Voices in the open

    I’ve been at an excellent OEGlobal conference in Edmonton for the past week. There was a lot of presentations about networks of open pedagogic practice, use of open textbooks to engage students, regional OER initiatives, and so on. It was impressive stuff and a significant advancement from the sort of solo-educator open textbook implementations we used to see. We were there with the GO-GN team, celebrating 10 years of that network. This was our largest gathering, with members from 15 different countries. Robert Schuwer gave a fascinating talk on the history of the network – tip to people setting on a project that may have legs, make sure you record…

  • higher ed,  OU

    Exit strategy

    Unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about exits recently, what with Maren leaving ALT and me announcing my (not so) imminent OU departure. I’m going to start with an ice hockey example, so for those with an aversion to such things, you may want to skip a paragraph. Last year the Chicago Blackhawks let their franchise player Patrick Kane leave for the New York Rangers. Kane had been with Chicago for 16 seasons, winning three Stanley Cups. He’s nicknamed “showtime” and yet, he went to the New York Rangers for practically nothing this year. The reason? He didn’t want to go anywhere else but also Chicago wanted to give him…

  • AI

    A grifter’s paradise

    So, what about that AI eh? I get it, there’s a lot of fun to be had and it will undoubtedly be really useful in education. I’m not anti-AI (I have a PhD in it, but back when we though symbolic AI was the way to go), and I’m going to do a few more posts on it – I get why it’s everywhere at the moment, it really will have a big impact. But at the same time, I’m also just really uninterested by it all. Part of the reason I’m getting out of the game (after one last job, obviously) is that in order to stay relevant as…

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