Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘hope

I have followed the writing of edtech historian and critic Audrey Watters for years. 

I enjoyed her regular collation and biting remarks on edtech news when she used to write them. She stopped doing that but still provides an important voice to balance the uncritical enthusiasm and loose ethics of some “edtech” providers. 

So I was glad to read the transcript of Watters’ keynote for Digifest 2022. But driven by her stance that “criticism is generative”, I highlight one flawed argument. Early in her speech, she declared:

I have watched the awfulness of pandemic education (and its digital components) unfold.

Given that much of “pandemic education” was technologically-enabled, I would question if the awfulness is technologically determined. It is, after all, teachers and students who are so set in their ways that they could not pivot to take advantage of the affordances of said technologies.

If Zoom fatigue was an example, I would lay blame not just on Zoom but on tired and old methods of chalk and talk applied to a context that does not favour it. Instead, Zoom also affords the creation of homogenous and heterogenous groupings that teachers could employ for student-centred work. Teachers could also design for asynchrony, reflection, self-evaluation, etc.

That said, I agree with Watters’ analysis of some folks in the edtech:

The tech industry’s historical amnesia — the inability to learn about, to recognize, to remember what has come before — is deeply intertwined with the idea of “disruption” and its firm belief that new technologies are necessarily innovative and are always “progress.”

She warned us not to forget that these folk “have done real, substantive damage to students, to teachers, to public education”. Is this hyperbole? Nope. Just think of how many people have been subject to the programmer and administrator designs of the ironically labelled LMS — they are not for learning. 

University IT departments seem to be hopelessly dependent on LMS and shiny “edtech” vines that vendors first dangle and then use to tie down. So what did Watters suggest we do about it?

Photo by Lynnelle Richardson on

Hope. Not hope as an optimistic emotion but as disciplined practice. This means pushing back when you sense something wrong, putting the time and effort into finding or shaping better solutions, and striving to be a better educator by doing what is best for learners.

If this sounds a bit rebellious, then it is. I remember this line from a Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Rebellions big and small are built on hope. But not just on hope that is a strong feeling or belief. Hope takes work.

Rogue One Hope GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Tags: ,

Video source

This WaPo video featured people who shared why and how the future holds hope.

One of the lines that stood out to me was from an activist who said that we should not work in silos nor in parallel. In other words, we should not work in isolation nor should we be wasting replicated effort. We need to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

“Not in silos nor in parallel” might just be a theme of mine in 2019.

Video source

As you watch this video, you can almost hear the screaming…

  • From the researchers and educators: “That’s technological determinism!” or  “The iPad is just a tool!”
  • From the students or kids: “I want one!” or “Yes!” (like the child did at the 1 min 42sec mark)

The adults have valid points to make, especially if they correctly identify and critique the hype behind the iPad.

But I would rather listen to the kids and enable the hope for learning with the iPad.


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: