What Will Drive the Future of Educational Technology?

The FETC conference in Florida, one of the largest conferences in the world, is fast approaching, and that spurred some memories of when I went last year. I thought then about how different the exhibits and presentations were from what such a conference would have featured a decade before, and I wondered what it will look like a decade in the future. I thought then that much of what I was seeing was already becoming obsolete (or should be), and it makes me wonder what direction educational technology will (or should) take in the future.

The huge exhibit hall was filled with flashy demonstrations of the latest miracle products, few of which drew my interest. The vast majority of the big ticket items were all designed to improve the quality of a lecture. There were new and improved ways to put information on a screen as the lecturer explained it, and there was especially better ways for the audience to indicate their understanding electronically. I am all for the use of such response mechanisms for lectures, but since I don’t do a lot of that it would not do me a whole lot of good.

I went to two presentations with almost identical titles and almost identical announced purposes — to show cool web sites that could be made a part of instruction. Despite those similarities, there was a stark difference in the content, a difference that  illustrates the fundamental problem with anticipating  the future of educational technology and change. If we all agree that the purpose of technology is to enhance good instructional technique, then the difference lies not so much in technology but upon the vision of the instructional technique it is supposed to enhance. Continue reading

CFHE 2012 Impressions: My Bumpy Start to a MOOC on Future Trends in Higher Ed – ‘505 Unread Discussion Messages’

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

The Massive Open Online Course Edfuture 2012 (CFHE 2012, Current/Future State of Higher Education: An Open Online Course) started on October 8 and will be running for six consecutive weeks. Since I am currently working on an article about future trends in educational technology, I was very excited to learn about the course and plan to participate as intensively and regularly as my schedule allows.

Getting Started

Unsurprisingly, the last week has been busy at work, and after a brief review of the reading material on Monday, I “skipped class” for the remainder of the weekly MOOC format. Checking back in on Friday only to get ambushed by “505 Unread Discussion Messages” that had secretly been piling up in the course forums, left me disheartened for a second. As usual, it pays to take a deep breath and a closer look at the MOOC’s course activities.

The majority of messages were personal introductions (441); about 65 dealt with the reading material of week one. The discussion threads covered various topics from sustainability and diversity of open education to the costs of higher education and international trends. I did not engage in any particular topic. Instead, I drifted through the threads in a serendipitous fashion and enjoyed listening in to different conversations. Here are my favorite quotes of the week:

I’m not participating in this MOOC to compare apples and oranges (bricks and bytes); I’m here to imagine ways we can be present to each other across time and distance. (Joe Moses, Oct. 9)

I personally have taken courses in Udacity and [they] are among the best courses I ever had. (William Colmenares, Oct. 9)

Continue reading