Last week I was attending the board meeting for eLearnMag, the Association of Computing Machinery’s ezine on eLearning. The goal was to bring together the board to discuss new directions. eLearnMag bridges the academic and practitioner sectors, providing an opportunity for research to inform practice, and vice-versa.
In preparation for the meeting, a survey was taken of the readership, to find what they were looking for. The top element, by far, was to keep up with emerging technologies. This makes sense in an era of increasing technology advancement, but it brings with it a worry as well.
Too often, new technologies come out with an abundance of excitement. Bluntly, there’s a lot of smoke as well as fire. Every new technology is going to be a panacea, particularly for education. Remember Virtual Worlds? They were to be the ultimate solution for all learning needs, but instead experienced a crash after a bubble of hype. Now, they’re reemerging with a more reasoned understanding of their core values.
How do we keep from being buried by hype? We need to understand the core affordances of technologies, the real capabilities brought by technology. More importantly for our purposes, we need to understand the core learning affordances. We do this by teasing out the fundamental capabilities, and then matching that to our needs.
For example, I previously took a stab at exploring the affordances of virtual worlds, and similarly for mobile. The point is to map core capabilities and emerging capabilities, and use those to evaluate technologies for supporting learning and performance.
Going forward, I implore you to try to avoid the hype, and look at the real capabilities. Look for insight, not bluster. It’s strategic in making sure technology is used appropriately, and pragmatic to avoid investing in chimeric capabilities. So, what technologies are you curious about?