The film Bendito Machine III, that we watched last week on the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC, tells the story of technological development in terms of ritual and worship. The tribe treats each new technology with god-like reverence, and damns the preceding technology to the scrap heap.

This film could, I’m ashamed to admit it, have been written about me. I am crazy about technology and gadgets and, just like the tribe in the film, have an old gadgets graveyard. The difference is, mine is inside my house, because I periodically think to myself “it might be useful in the future.”

In Bendito the villagers worship whatever the latest technological idol is and throw away whichever model is already looking a little outdated immediately the new technology appears. In my work as an educational technologist, I have seen something similar many times with educational hardware. I was the E-learning Manager at a large language school, which had an incredible multimedia suite to aid independent study. The one drawback was that it was built in the 1970s. It either worked with LP records, or a reel to reel tapes. It was replaced by a listening centre, stuffed full of cassettes, which was replaced by a listening centre stuffed full of CDs, which was replaced by an multimedia centre stuffed full of computers, which was replaced by an LMS stuffed full of CD RoMs… you get the idea.

There are two things I think that are interesting to note about redundant educational technology:

Firstly, it’s not the technology that has just been superseded that is seen as junk. There’s actually a generation gap, or a “snobbery gap.” We tend to accept old technology, but completely dismiss the technology that came before it. Take a look at this graphic, where I try to illustrate the gap.

Short generation gap before delivery media is dismissed

Short generation gap before delivery media is dismissed.

 

Secondly, this same snobbery, seems to have a wider generational gap when referring to instructional environments. We still consider previous technologies as “valid” for a good while after “the next big thing” has arrived. For example, we still use blogs even though they’ve been around a good few years. If a course was run completely within Moodle (or any other VLE / LMS) I think most educational technologists would be a bit sniffy about its educational validity nowadays.

instructional Frameworks 2

Instructional environments have a more accomodating generation gap than physical media.

 

So, as we start week 2 of the MOOC, I wonder to myself, does the same apply to future educational technologies? It somehow seems to have a similar short generation gap. This time though, the gap is about what we believe will realistically happen. For example, wearable tech is here, we know that Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets are coming soon, but implanted microchips still seem to be way off as a learning technology.

Future Skepticism 2

Generation gap in reverse: the skepticism gap.

 

What do you think will be the next big revolutionary change in educational technology? Have your predictions been right in the past? I know I thought the iPad would never catch on. Now look, it’s almost out of date already!