Until recently, Craig Taylor included the following in his Twitter bio:
Dreaming of a day when we can drop the e from elearning and the m from mobile learning & just crack on.
Last week, I noticed that Stephen Downes, in reply to Scott Leslie on Mastodon, had mentioned that he didn’t even think that ‘e-learning’ or ‘edtech’ was really a thing any more, so perhaps Craig dropping that from his bio was symptomatic of a wider shift?
I’m not sure anyone has any status in online learning any more. I’m wondering, maybe it’s not even a discipline any more. There’s learning analytics and open pedagogy and experience design, etc., but I’m not sure there’s a cohesive community looking at what we used to call ed tech or e-learning.
His comments were part of a thread, so I decided not to take it out of context. However, Stephen has subsequently written his own post about it, so it’s obviously something on his mind.
Reflecting on what he covers in OLDaily, he notes that, while everything definitely falls within something broadly called ‘educational technology’, there’s very few people working at that meta level — unlike, say, ten years ago:
[I]n 2019 there’s no community that encompasses all of these things. Indeed, each one of these topics has not only blossomed its own community, but each one of these communities is at least as complex as the entire field of education technology was some twenty years ago. It’s not simply that change is exponential or that change is moving more and more rapidly, it’s that change is combinatorial – with each generation, the piece that was previously simple gets more and more complex.
I think Stephen’s got what Venkatesh Rao might deem an ‘elder blog’:
The concept is derived from the idea of an elder game in gaming culture — a game where most players have completed a full playthrough and are focusing on second-order play.
In other words, Stephen has spent a long time exploring and mapping the emerging territory. What’s happening now, it could be argued, is that new infrastructure is emerging, but using the same territory.
So, to continue the metaphor, a new community springs up around a new bridge or tunnel, but it’s not so different from what went before. It’s more convenient, maybe, and perhaps increases capacity, but it’s not really changing the overall landscape.
So what is the value of OLDaily? I don’t know. In one sense, it’s the same value it always had – it’s a place for me to chronicle all those developments in my field, so I have a record of them, and am more likely to remember them. And I think it’s a way – as it always has been – for people who do look at the larger picture to stay literate. Not literate in the sense of “I could build an educational system from scratch” but literate in the sense of “I’ve heard that term before, and I know it refers to this part of the field.”
I find Stephen’s work invaluable. Along with the likes of Audrey Watters and Martin Weller, we need wise voices guiding us — whether or not we decide to call what we’re doing ‘edtech’.
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