I would like to start by saying that this was one of the hardest paper that I have read, it could be that I am new to the field of Learning Technologies, it could be that there were terms and organizations that were listed in there that were new to me or it could be that the paper, even though it had a lot of good information, had too much information and was all over the place. Even though I had a hard time following everything mentioned in the paper, I found myself agreeing with what was in paper in several areas and would consider this to be a foundational paper where a lot of nuggets of learning technologies information can be gathered. First, I would like to start with my top three areas of agreement even though it is very hard for me to limit it to three areas of agreement since I can count eight areas where I am in agreement with the author.
In terms of priority, my number one area of agreement is the general model of instructional development (figure 3) since I believe in Design Based Research or continuous improvement where everything starts with needs assessment and is constantly updated as we learn more with reflections with an openness to even change the objectives. This should be accomplished with Paradigm 1 of the systems approach as shown in figure 2, two paradigms of educational technology even though the terminology in the diagram is referenced to as “audiovisual materials” due to the age of the paper.
The second area of agreement is the observation that “pieces of knowledge are appropriated (or not) depending upon pupils’ own agenda, how they feel about their participation, teacher intervention, and above all the settings in which the activities are undertaken. Thus, it is misguided to argue that simply by interacting with the computer, children are likely to acquire specified mathematical ideas. (Hoyles and Noss 1992, P31). In order to really learn, in order for the students to learn, they have to be actively engaged and part of the learning process such that they are committed to the mutually defined goals.
The third area of agreement is the framework defined in the paper under the heading of “flexible learning” where the learners negotiate learning objectives with their teachers and then define their own learning pathways which could include groupwork, experimental learning, etc. The paper discusses three major constraints to flexible learning which are tightly specified curricula, lack of sufficient resources and the investment required for a Project Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy in the existing pool of faculty and the additional time required by faculty to deliver instructions in PBL pedagogy.
There are also some arguments that I do not agree and the two that stand out for me the most are discussed below:
First, I do not agree completely with “Educational technologists can be viewed as an interest group whose conceptual frameworks are not only to guide and drive practice but also but also to gain political and academic credibility”. I view educational technologists not as interest group but as change agents in academia. It is their responsibility to be leading edge educators that are well versed in the areas of leadership, technology and change management such that they can lead the universities out of the funk that we are in with obsolete processes and high cost of higher education where student debt is soaring, 30% of freshmen drop out of college after the first year, approximately 62% graduate in 6 years and of the students that do graduate most employers say that the graduates are not ready for the workforce (NACE). Just like in the corporate world, if a company does not transform themselves in the digital age, they will become obsolete, if the higher institutions do not transform themselves, they will become obsolete and I think Learning Technologist could play the leadership role in bringing the transformation in higher education.
Second, in concepts of educational technology, “he who controls the programming heartland controls the educational system” is an argument that I do not agree with, at the end of the day, technology is just a tool, it is a platform to bring about change but change comes from sound frameworks and principles such as the one as described in the paper that I mentioned at the beginning of my blog.
One of the fallacies that I can identify is the sunken cost fallacy, the universities continue to go down the path of the traditional pedagogy due to the constraints mentioned in the research paper and identified as my third agreement in this blog.
The research paper is a very foundational paper but unfortunately a lot of the things mentioned have not become the norm in higher education since transformation requires not only technology which is an enabler but a strategy with an organization and processes that believe in with technology as an enabler. We have some of this success in elementary, middle and high schools with the advent of project bases learning schools emerging in the USA.