Friday, July 11, 2008

History of Educational Technology::"Same Mistakes, Different Means"?

"What's new? You don't know what's old." recounts Dr. Richard Schwier of the exchange between him and a professor during a chance encounter in the hallway as a doctoral student. Dr. Schwier explains during this 83 minute 11 second Elluminate session that conversation was the catalyst for studying the history of educational technology.

Thinking about the future is great. From the future, we can develop our vision. From our vision, we can help ensure our students are ready for what lies ahead. But, I think looking back is valuable too. It's provides a context for understanding how we came here. Dr. Schwier's session was really helpful. Here's a few key items that were of great interest to me:

11:25 - Greek Influence on Educational Technology
Dr. Schwier talks about the 4 questions of cause according to Grecian philosophy. They are: material, formal, efficient, and functional. He then compares them to modern day educational technology - interesting!

14:00 - 7 Cardinal Virtues and 7 Deadly Sins
Compares Greek
7 Cardinal Virtues and 7 Deadly Sins to modern day educational technology beliefs. Dr. Schwier points out that people either "vilify or promote" technology based on these 7 sins or virtues found in classical content.

44:22 - 20th Century History of Educational Technology
Here Dr. Schwier discusses educational technology according to decade such as film, TV, instructional design through to social web and web 2.0 of present day. The header for this slide is "Panaceas for schools".

47:12 - MPATI - Great Story (I won't spoil it).
Wow!! Double Wow! I had never heard of MPATI. MPATI was the Midwest Program on Airborne Instructional Television. A plane would literally send a signal cone. Schools within the cone could view instructional programming. Dr. Schwier tells a hilarious story about MPATI that I won't do must hear it for yourself.

57:30 - Movement of Knowledge
Dr. Schwier provides a context of educational technology. To paraphrase him, our current movement isn't from technology to technology - such as radio to film - it's epistemology to epistemology such as congnitivism to social learning. The biggest shift is individualism to social learning. "Collective constructionism" or how groups learn is taking center stage.

59:50 - History/Timeline of Educational Technology
Here Dr. Schwier provides an interesting overlay between the history of educational technology, epistemological phases (objectivism, cognitivism, constructivism, and social learning), and growth of individuals and groups.

71:00 - Common Mis-Speakings of Educational Technology
One of my favorite lines from this segment is how overheads were projected to transform learning and teaching. What happened? Teachers were just photocopying pages of books and reading the words from the screens. Most memorable quote: "We make the same mistakes today, we just use different means."

Lastly, I'll end with this story about educational technology and learning that hopefully tie this together:

I eagerly started my M.Ed in Educational Administration in a traditional university's online program. This university was ranked by US News and World Report as one of the top 50 in the country. Call me a snob, but I didn't want my graduate experience to be anything less than what I received at Penn State as an undergrad. The first round of courses came and went with even an offer to teach in a new instructional technology program. Flattering and super-cool!! Then came two classes in the second term complete with the following quotes. "Thanks for teaching me about this topic...I didn't know anything about it" and "When I took the course my instructor had us..." are not phrases I want to hear in a graduate school. We can all learn from our students as teachers...but not basic content knowledge. I ended up leaving and finishing at another university in their "traditional" program. Professors there were seasoned practitioners who knew their craft well. Come to think of it, I never got an adjunct position.

I know that all online programs aren't the same as the one I experienced. But it has made me question ever since: How do we keep the "bad habits" from inhabiting virtual spaces as it does a physical space? Just because my masters was in all accounts 21st century, the learning was not. Dr. Schwier saw it long ago too in his comical story of MPATI. I saw it recently. Will we see it again? What can be done to reduce these occurrences?

In response to Chris Lehmann's great post and Will Richardson's and Sylvia Martinez's reflections: How are,
as Dr. Schwier puts it, the same mistakes, just using different means avoidable?


sylvia martinez said...

I haven't had time to listen to this yet, but it sounds fascinating.

To be really concise, it seems like the way to avoid the mistakes of the past is to question everything, even to the point where people think it's annoying!

Edwin Wargo said...

Hi Sylvia,

The presentation is a really interesting perspective to see how much things have changed yet have stayed the same.

I appreciate the comments...they are a great reminder!