EdTech Factotum #3: A nuanced outsourcing of history

4 min read

Friday, May 26, 2017

Happy Friday from beautiful Victoria BC! After what has felt like an exceptionally long & dreary winter, it feels like we are finally starting to turn a sunny corner and summer is on the way.

Here is what caught my attention this week.

#NotAllEdTech Derails Critical Educational Technology Conversations

George Veletsianos, Inside Higher Education, May 17, 2017

I have sometimes found conversations about educational technology to be difficult because people don't necessarily want to engage in a nuanced discussion. It's the perception that, if you are FOR edtech, then you must also be FOR the Silicon Valley agenda of EdTech. Or worse, you are blind to the insidiousness and negative side of technology. It is a tension I suspect many of us feel being both supporter and critic, depending on context.

Veletsianos does a good job of exploring that tension in this response to the Twitter hashtag #NotAllEdTech (which itself was prompted by a recent EDUCAUSE article authored by Veletsianos and Rollie Moe). He deftly separates the many well-intentioned and thoughtful people in our field from the field itself and reminds us that edtech is situated in a broader technocentric context that we need to keep aware of.

What I fear, and hope to avoid, is a world where conversations about educational technology focus solely on individuals (e.g., those who use the technology, create the technology, etc.), while avoiding criticisms of educational technology as an overly optimistic practice shaped by societal trends.

Using a parallel example, it’s easy (and tempting) to claim that Uber drivers enjoy opportunities to supplement their income, work at their leisure, and make use of idle resources (i.e. their cars), and easy to avoid investigations of the broader social trends surrounding the gig economy.

See also the original EDUcause paper for your weekly shot of neoliberalism, and responses from Joshua Kim,D'arcy Norman, and Stephen Downes, and the #NotAllEdTech hashtag.

Innovation in Higher Education…and other blasts from the past

Tannis Morgan, May 24, 2017

Digging into the history of edtech, innovation and open, Tannis expands on her recent CNIE keynote talk Innovation in Higher Education…and other blasts from the past. I love historical deep dives like this, and appreciate how much work goes into unearthing this type of information.  As you might guess, there are more than just echoes of yesterday in the work we do today, including references to open pedagogy from the early 1970's from a UQAM professor named Claude Paquette.

What becomes interesting is when we contrast the current day open pedagogy, centred on the permissions surrounding content, with open pedagogy of the 1960s where learner emancipation, not the use of OERs, was the goal of open pedagogy. Claude Paquette outlines 3 sets of foundational values of open pedagogy, namely:  autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation. For me, this is a much more ambitious definition of open pedagogy, focussed less on the how and more on the actual goal.

Asynch Delivery and the LMS Still Dominate for Online Programs

Dian Schaffhauser, Campus Technology, May 22, 2017

Article based on the findings of a report entitled Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) produced by Quality Matters and Eduventures. I didn't sign up to get a copy of the report, so can't speak to the makeup or location of the institutions who were surveyed, other than the responses were from "chief online officers", which is a role I have never heard of before.

I suppose it should not come as a surprise that asynchronous threaded discussion forums still rule the online course world, despite great advancements in synchronous technologies in the past 10 years. Not that synchronous is the be all and end all, but pity the poor student who has to go through an entire online program interacting on asynchronous discussion boards. Shudder.

The interesting bit for me, however, is the section on course development where instructional designers are more than likely to be an option, not a requirement. And, despite the fact that many of the major education publishers and LMS vendors offering course design as a service, very few institutions are outsourcing their course development.

The use of outsourcing for course design is rare. On average, fewer than a quarter of institutions have called on outside firms to develop their programs. Among the respondents for this first survey, "almost no partnerships" exist for community colleges; and only a handful of four-year institutions have them. Among those few who have service providers doing this work, the services most commonly mentioned were: marketing, enrollment management and learning management system (LMS) support.

Until next Friday. Have a great weekend.

Unless otherwise noted, all content CC-BY Clint Lalonde.

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