Sunday, 13 December 2015

You can ignore it but resistance is ultimately futile

I've nearly completed my first assignment for the course.  I've enjoyed doing it - an annotated bibliography related to the themes of the first unit. I chose to look in particular at research to inform eLearning strategy, and in particular how institutions should respond to the 'inevitable generational shift of the digital natives.'

The panic over how institutions and practitioners cannot possibly meet the needs of these transformed young people, immersed in digital technologies has been a source of frustration for me for some time partly because it is so patently not the reality in the classroom, and partly because it makes the job of arguing for change based on actually making better provision, improving learner experience, far harder because is winds people up with cod-science.

The process of reading research, looking at common threads and arguing against something has been an interesting and enjoyable one. However, inevitably arguing against things and taking a conservative position on them doesn't reflect the fact that actually I am really passionate about both the need to change education and to make use of new technologies to improve it (because we want to, because it will make things better, not because we are doomed by some made up generational shift).

So having got to the point that I'm trying to crunch the word-count to fit the assignment brief, which is perhaps not the most creative thing, it's a real pleasure to discover this video of a talk by Donald Clark at TEDx that reminds me of the positives of technology for learning and more importantly, the inevitability of change.

Donald promises to highlight "more pedagogical change in the last 10 years than the previous 1000" and perhaps doesn't deliver on that entirely, but he captures brilliantly the idiocy of repeating flawed models that were of a time where printing and broadcasting technology made sitting in a room talking to people, and then setting hard questions for them to resolve alone, the most viable solution. We live now in a world where even bad lectures can be improved simply by recording them and allowing the student to select sections, repeat them and review them, and skip the wasted bits.

His arguments, that change is inevitable, that not changing is ridiculous, does not contradict the assignment I'm trying to hone, but for a few moments I worried it might.

In the assignment I find myself arguing that a good strategy is based on establishing strong core provision and allowing people to then innovate around it, that change should be because we want to improve pedagogy and make the experience of being a student better, not the 'barbarians at the gates' narrative from Prensky and Tapscott.

In the first couple of weeks of the course we were asked to find and share two video clips that we felt really summed up the Learning Technology story so far. I wish I'd seen this clip earlier so I could have put forward this one (I do however disagree with Donald's comments about Brighton and Glasgow).


  1. Hi Guy
    Thanks for sharing this TED Talk - it truly is inspiring. I can relate to the challenges you describe in forming a solid argument for change that is backed with research and theory. Recently at work, a decision from senior management has banned teachers from using mobiles in the classroom. The idea behind this decision seems that mobiles are seen as an obstruction to language learning. On the contrary, I see mobile technology as an inevitable tool that needs to be integrated into the learning process. The challenge I face now is in designing training and example classes that highlight how mobiles can be used effectively, and not as a novelty, to support and engage learners.

    I enjoy reading your blog by the way. I'm not always able to comment due to Internet access in China, but I have been following what you write. :)


  2. Thank you! I'm looking forward to getting this first assignment out of the way in truth as aiming for 1500 (or 1650) words is not great fun. When facing very conservative responses to mobile technology this post from Jose Picardo might interest you -


Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. All comments are moderated - I will aim to review your comment quickly and make sure it is made available.