"Software sedimentation is a process whereby not only protocols, but the ideas embedded in them become mandatory. An example is the idea of the file…. Files are now taught to students as a fact of life as fundamental as a photon, even though they are a human invention."
I think there is truth in this, and I like the mental image of sediment building up within the concepts built in to software and technology. To expand the idea out somewhat, the same might be true of many educational practices. The lecture for example (stop groaning at the back), is mandatory because of the physical and cultural sedimentation embodied in university campuses, so that to many academics and students, it seems natural. But like files in software, there are other ways to approach the particular problem (how to move someone from a position of not knowing to knowing in this case). InLanier’s example software is part of the problem, but for other examples, software and technology can be part of the solution – because by using new technologies it makes practitioners think about new ways of doing things. Sedimentation can be very hard, and costly, to remove, and potentially new technologies offer a means of achieving this.
This does however, argue for a more radical shift in our deployment of e-learning technologies than my succession model proposes. The danger of a slow change is that it allows sediment to build up – as an obvious example, VLEs that simply mirror the lecture practice.