Friday, March 23, 2007

Ed-Tech Advocates: Always Ready To Cast The First Stone

It is very safe for people working generally in the field of "educational technology" to place the blame for the state of ed-tech, and education in general, on things other than the technology. If the problem is, oh, I don't know, preservice training for teachers, or the traditional pedagogy of schools, or ineffective methods of professional development, it is quite easy for us to point and say "something must be done," when we've got little influence on these issues beyond the local level. If ed-tech won't work until these fundamental problems are solved, it will never work, or at least we will have permanent excuses for it not working.

I'm not saying we can't talk about the broader issues, but where should our focus be in terms of trying to create change? Don't we have more influence over technology and its implementation? There are huge problems at the core of ed-tech right now. We need inexpensive, durable laptops running operating systems designed for learning. We should demand that every university ed-tech research project, especially those receiving public funds, be released as free software, and built with free software. We must demand public processes and accountability for filtering policies and prohibit the filtering of political speech. I could go on, but that's three good ones to start on.

We should take care of our own discipline before looking for others to blame.

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