What Should You Know About Education Technology?
Frankly, most ed-tech is utter crap. We've had over 50 years of theory and practice, research and development into how computers can reshape education. Yet we're still just not that good at building or implementing technology in the service of transforming teaching and learning. Old wine, new bottles, new markets, and such.
Part of the problem is that many ed-tech products have been developed and then in turn purchased without input from or support for teachers (let alone students). That's the argument of Larry Cuban's book Oversold and Underused, first published in 2001. But lots has changed in the last decade-plus (in technology, if not in education), and with the spread of consumer Web and mobile technologies, more teachers and students are making their own decisions about what ed-tech tools to buy and use.
Yet all sorts of chasms remain between the realms of education and technology, between teachers and technologists. If we're to bridge that (and recognize that there may well be places where we can't, where missions and methods are irreconcilable) we should probably start by learning a bit more about one another -- a little bit more about the education and the technology components, as well as the business and politics, of ed-tech.
And that's the effort to which this site is dedicated.
An Ed-Tech Guide for Teachers and Technologists
Why a Guide?
This site grew out of a gauntlet that was thrown down challenging me to list the things I thought every education technology entrepreneur should know. Riffing on "The Joel Test" resulted in "The Audrey Test" -- some of the things I think techies (engineers and entrepreneurs) should know about education. A little history, a little theory, a little policy, a little cognitive science.
But it isn't just the technology folks who need to learn about education; educators in turn need to pay close attention to technology -- pedagogy, politics, terms of service, funding, business models, and so on. So I've expanded my initial "test" to address what teachers and learners -- those inside and outside formal education institutions -- need to know about the ed-tech industry.
Now, we can certainly debate the contents of the tests and in turn the guide upon which this all is built. We can question the need altogether to lay out a curriculum of sorts for what folks should know. I hope we do, because I recognize that this is oh so very much a work-in-progress.