Ed-Tech Mania Is Back
J’avais zappé cet article de septembre 2020... Morceaux choisis :
There are two major issues with the arguments of today’s charismatic technologists. The first is historical: Since the days of early radio and film, evangelists have been promising that new technologies will sweep away the sandy foundations of higher education, and yet here we are — starved and teetering from austerity, but at no real risk of wholesale disruption from technology.
This isn’t to deny growth and innovation in online learning. Online education has been steadily, incrementally expanding for decades, and there are a few places with concentrated growth.
The second problem for today’s charismatic technologists is that the types of disruption they envisioned haven’t happened. MOOCs, adaptive tutors, chatbots, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, learning analytics, and other recent innovations have played very minor roles in higher ed’s crisis pivot to online learning. Instead, the pandemic has seen us embrace two dominant technologies. The first is the learning-management system — a place to distribute and collect resources online. Learning-management systems were theorized in the ‘60s and ‘70s, commercialized in the ‘90s, and made open source in the ‘00s.
The other major technology we’ve embraced is similarly old school: it was called “videotelephony” when it debuted in the 1930s, and it has gradually morphed into today’s videoconferencing. Faculty members have simply turned from the classroom lectern to their home-office webcam without the assistance of chatbots or AI tutors.
There’s a middle path between charismatic boosterism and skepticism. In The Charisma Machine, Ames calls it “tinkering.” Drawn from David Tyack and Larry Cuban’s history of K-12 education in the United States, Tinkering Towards Utopia (Harvard University Press, 1995), “tinkerers” see schools and colleges as complex systems that can be improved but believe that major improvement is the product of years of incremental changes, not the result of one grand stroke. Tinkerers study past efforts at educational reform to avoid replicating past mistakes. Tinkerers harbor an optimism that technology can be used to improve teaching and learning, but they embrace research and critique as a crucial check against utopian thinking. While charismatic technologists orchestrate boom-and-bust hype cycles, cajoling local systems into making major changes and then moving on when transformation proves elusive, tinkerers persist with their designs, their partners, and their communities.