I’ve spent a lot of time committing a lot of stuff to paper – digital or otherwise – and a similarly large chunk of my life waffling on to whoever’s in the vicinity.
I must’ve talked to everyone from taxi drivers to state politicians about how education is being ruined by technology – how the transmissive, stifling, market-driven pedagogies of the Blackboard and WebCTs of the world are taking us back twenty or more years in terms of what we actually know about teaching and learning.
Shit, it’s been said not just by me but at every conference in every corner of the world in which I inhabit that we’re in trouble, that learning isn’t about content management and quizzes and that these social technologies, web2 if you like, are going to save us.
And I agree, these technologies have to potential to be absolutely transformative: By incorporating subversion into the design of our educational technology, by focusing our efforts not on thr ‘class’ but on the individuals who make up the class and by moving beyond the ‘oh so painful’ discussion board and ‘chat room’… we can make changes that will influence teaching and learning for the better.
We know that teaching and learning isn’t about the technology, but we also know that if you put every teacher you have into a lecture theatre – odds on most of them are going to give a lecture. The technology does matter. It shapes what we do as much, if not moreso, than our physical environments shape our everyday lives.
But I’m sick and tired of talking about this – and not sure that I agree that the best way to make a diference is to attempt to excert political pressure. We can talk till we’re blue in the face and Blackboard will pick up more licenses.
The only way we can make a difference is by offering viable alternatives, which are so damn pedagogically, technologically and economically attractive that they can’t help but work. And it’s not too hard, we know how to do it, that’s what we’ve been talking about all this time.
And it’s happening. Tools like Elgg go a long way towards that. Moodle may well be premised on some pretty conservative ideas of how online learning can actually work, but it’s a project to be admired.
Let’s actually get in there and take education forward, I’m sick of saying the same things all the time.
Install a copy of Elgg, set-up a Moodle, get an Edublog – and spend your time offering a viable alternative rather that voicing a well worn complaint.