Tag Archives: technology

Why should people study Learning Technology?

Well not just because its shiny!

I believe that technology is such a force multiplier that its not just that we can scale a bit bigger what we were already doing, not just that we can make existing teaching a bit better and more engaging.

Technology makes possible the ideas of learning that before were impractical.  It is an opportunity to co-construct learning as what we would dream it to be.

It will be an iterative process, it will never be finished, never be perfect (and in a way that’s its beautiful strength)

For teachers and lecturers to start on this transformative path they need to be aware of what technology can do, they need to be comfortable to play around with technology, to experiment and know that its ok to (constructively) fail and to know there are people who will help when it goes wrong.

I hope that those who participate in my course, will reach that state sooner than they would alone, because after all that is what a teacher is for – to help us reach faster, further and higher

creative commons licensed ( BY-ND ) flickr photo shared by blinkingidiot

Otherwise as Cathy Davidson said http://connectedcourses.net/thecourse/why-we-need-a-why/ (13.28 minutes in till 14.15) “If what we do can be replaced by a computer screen then maybe we should be”

Edit – it has been pointed out to me that the above statement could appear a little harsh if used by someone from a central department in a University rather than a teacher.  I do work in a central department teaching and supporting academics/teachers (I have taught students in the past and I fully intend to teach again in the future).  That wasn’t the way I intended it – it was a call to “be as good as we can be” not a “lets replace our staff with cheap videos”.

Cathy Davidson is a teacher and in her blog post on this subject discusses in intelligent detail what this challenge means – (I would recommend you read it – she says it better than I could)


#EDCMooc Assignment. Posthuman : More complicated

Click on the Image to view my Artifact


If the above link doesn’t play in your browser you can find the same video on you tube here


All photos and screen shots were taken by me  and are available under  [CC-BY-SA-2.0]

The 2 drawings were created by Edward Fox-Gliddon (my 9 year old son) and are also licensed under  [CC-BY-SA-2.0] you must attribute both him and his comic company “Air Balloon Comics”

I used the following 3 images from the web

Hashtag cloud  (http://www.flickr.com/photos/psychemedia/6909023221/) By Tony Hirst [CC BY 2.0] via flicker

By William Hook [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeremy Keith (Flickr: Device pile) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Music  SledgeHammer from Camtasia 8 by TechSmith (best description of licence is here)

Note for sharing to the Guardian newspaper the above music did not meet their licence rules so I have re-recorded and used “CDK – Silence Await” from (ccmixter.org – Creative Commons — Attribution) cdk / CC BY 3.0 (see this link to view the updated video)

Rational (I would suggest watching the video before reading this – cheers)

PostHuman, the initial point I am hoping to make is that an argument can be made that we have already reached a stage where our abilities could be considered beyond human, certainly someone from 1900 would see some of our abilities as beyond human (although not beyond their imagination or comprehension).

We control our reproduction (contraption), we are never lost (SatNav), we can answer any question (google search and wikipedia), we can communicate to anyone any time any place (phone, email etc).  In the 1700’s this kind of ability might have been considered Witch Craft.

Distributed Intelligence, I am trying to convey the concept here that we are more than just our bare brain, it is the tools we have and the networks of people that we interact with that fully define our intelligence.  This article gives a more scholarly take on this http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1133268

Thinking through other people, this continues the Distributed Intelligence idea, I wanted to emphasize how the social part of the internet is dramatically increasing the pool of people that we can use in our intelligence network.  Certainly the number of people we can connect with is larger, I have no direct evidence that we are using them to improve our cognition – however anecdotally would you say you have learnt more from the course materials in #EDCMooc or from the social media connections you have made (In my case I have found the reflections of others on the course materials to be invaluable).

My Children, can I first say this is not a digital natives/immigrants idea (this has been long discredited although it is a Zombie theory as I have posted previously).  There is no great change between me and my children’s generation, what I am referring to here is the Moore’s law of increase in computing power and the fact that they will be alive long after I am dead, thus what they achieve in their prime is likely to be orders of magnitude greater than what I do in mine.  Similarly what they do in their school years should (in some ways) be radically different to what I did in mine.

Pencil, this looks back to our first week on utopia and dystopia.  Here I am worried not about the possibilities of Technology but instead about the ability of our Education system to keep up.  The effect I am hoping for here is that it causes the viewer to think about not just what technologies we can use in education but also how education will enable our children to thrive in the modern technological environment.

This is of particular concern to me at the moment because

  1. Education is my job (specialism – Technology Enhanced Learning)
  2. I have children in the Education system
  3. The United Kingdom government appears to be determined to take us back to a “Golden Age” of education that didn’t exist.

In support of point 3, our current government are a group of privately educated people (so no direct experience of participating in the systems they are changing) with few qualifications in the Education field and little experience of working in education (see this blog for a nice summary).

They also appear to ignore expert advice instead rushing ahead with  any “good idea” that pops into their head (reform GCSEs? reform A levels? change inspections? change fees?)  They also do not appear to be particularly aware of the opportunities of technology or to support it being used in schools.

Planning my Artefact #EDCMooc

When creating something its good to storyboard out what you are planning to do.  I wouldn’t normally post what is in effect my brainstorming, but the EDCMooc is about the process as well as the finished product so below is the notes I made when making my artifact (yes its messy and yes it wont make much sense to you – but when I do post the artifact it will make (some) sense)

So all the reading and watching is done, time to start making my Artefact. I want to do something that looks at posthumanism (partly because I think that its not really a clean break – we became human the first time we made a tool to use, the tools we have now are just more powerful).

I also want to comment on the obsession with testing particularly as (in the UK) our government is trying to change our education system to more resemble how things were when they went to school.

Text: Visual I am a posthuman : Brains & boxes? (Ed pic)

Technology – Faster : Bike&Car (Photo) Brighter :Light (Photo)

Distributed Intelligence : Devices (photo)

Think through my friends : Tree video with social media pics superimposed (use this but attribute! http://www.flickr.com/photos/psychemedia/6909023221/ )

At work : Enter (video)

Home : Media (dont know!)

My Phone : phone (picture)

Communities : Social media images

My Children : Cyberman masks (photo)

Fading intellect :wings pic (Ed)

Pencil: Video – snapping pencil

Tried to get #edcmooc visualisation but the communal brain on G+ let me down.  Found this visualisation AND his blog looks useful, so in fact I learnt more – communal brain failure causes brain to grow http://www.flickr.com/photos/psychemedia/6909023221/

#EDCmooc – ponderings “Technology” is a force multiplier and a cost reducer

A lot of the reading for week one got me thinking about what is “Technology” or a particular bit of technology.  Jesse B posted a link to a good article on cyborg humans and then followed it up with a post “We Are Already Cyborgs: How should we feel about that? #EDCMOOC

So if the cyborg is a blend of human and technology I thought I would try to go back to first principles – what is Technology.

I would say that “Technology” is tools.  Either individual tools or collections of tools.  A tool can be defined as something that lets us do something better or with less effort than we could do it without the tool.

Doing it better = a force multiplier.

Less effort = reducing the effort/cost of the action.

Our first tools were generally tools that helped us physically, a hammer was a force multiplier allowing us to hammer in nails better, a horse and cart reduced the effort required to get somewhere.

However there are mental tools as well, tying knots in a bit of string reduced the mental effort/cost of knowing how many sheep you counted in and out of the field, in contrast an abacus is a force multiplier allowing people to calculate better.

Catapult for town wall

You know I don’t normally like newfangled technology but student complaints have pretty much stopped since I got this beauty!

There is a 3rd category of tools, those that store something until it is needed. A physical example would be the energy stored in a catapult when it is cranked, that is used when it is fired (a more modern example would be a battery)

Writing on papyrus allowed your thoughts/instructions to be stored so you could read them later or they could be passed on to anyone who had the papyrus (and could read).

Finally because humans are a social animal there is the use of tools to help communication and collaboration.  Now technically the improvements to communication are just the tool being a force multiplier or cost reducer or storage, but because the act of collaborating and working together with other humans is so important (is it stretching the point too far to call it using other humans as tools?), I think it needs mentioning as a distinct use.

Now the internet (with all its applications), computers and smart phones don’t do anything different to the previous mental tools.  They just do it much much more effectively!  The force multiplier for mental tasks done with the computer allow us to do easily things that would take ages without (a good example is maths), the effort/cost of doing something is getting closer to zero (example planning a big family gathering) and storage is vast and easy.

My argument is they are doing it at a cost that is approaching zero for an individual human.  Now what this means and its possible effects on how humans organise themselves I will look at in my next blog post

– Oh and for those of you that cant wait Ivo Correia da Silva shared this link earlier “The Impending Social Consequences of Augmented Reality“, I hope to work some of the ideas into the next post

Week 1 #EDCMOOC – My thoughts on the videos

Spoiler Alert – #EDCMOOC people if you havent seen this weeks films you should probably not read this yet – go watch the films, they are fun, will take you 20 minutes, then come back here 🙂

Real Steel 01 (7559878914)

The film Bendito Machine III has a strong sense of technological determinism about it, the technology is clearly seen as the dominant or defining force in the lives of the characters.  It takes a dystopic view of the effects of technology – note the increasing accidental casualties caused by the various tech, as well as the damage to buildings and trees.

Like technological determinism itself it has a slightly simplistic view of the world, with each old technology being consigned to the scrapheap as soon as the next newer one comes along, in reality despite my shiny new phone I am typing this on my laptop and I have a radio in my car and a TV in my house (and now I come to think of it newspapers in my recycle bin and books on my 6 bookcases).  It is however a bit mean to criticise a cartoon too heavily for being simplistic and the tossing of the old technology onto the scrapheap is a good shorthand for the throwaway society in which we live.

Similarly the films characters had little choice in their adoption of the new technologies, however  in reality Luddites can fight a valiant rear guard action against the adoption of a new technology for years (not that I am complaining – if everybody adopted each new technology as soon as it came out I would no longer have a job!).

If you consider dystopic futures those in which people have lost control of their lives then this is a Frankensteinian version where the creation/technology has gained the control.

Inbox – this was a sweet little film, in my eyes this was a Utopian situation (I can see that some people could argue for dystopia, the look in the mans eyes when the bag rips is a story in itself).  The bags allow the people to connect in a way they never would have done without them (look at the first minute and see how the girl reacts to the 2 men that smile at her).  The technology here is all about the possibilities it opens up.  Interestingly I also think that this film is not technologically deterministic, people were attracted to each other before red bags, this is just another way to find someone.

So Inbox is Utopic with individuals retaining control of their lives

Thursday – Im not sure here, the day to day lives of the humans dont look particularly enjoyable (although I do want to have a go on the space elevator!) they do appear to have lost control (agency) of their lives and the whole planet appears to have been standardised.  What they have lost control to is more problematic, is it to society as a whole and thus probably to the powerful within society (hands up anyone who hasnt replied to a email on their phone from their boss).  By contrast the birds do have control/agency, quite literally flying free.

So Dystopic with control lost to the powerful

New Media; Dystopic, pretty much nightmarish, definitely from the “slaves to the machine” genre.

One similarity that struck me was the slightly organic nature of the machines in both films most clearly identified in the tentacles, this to me indicates the idea of Technological animism with the technology having a force/will/purpose of its own.  Another similarity is the destruction/neglect of the human world (crumbling cities, broken huts) I would assume this is symoblic of the enviromental costs around technological progress.

The biggest difference for me was that the sense of threat or malice was much stronger in the New Media film.  The human deaths in Bendito Machine III, are more accidental side effects of the technology, by contrast in New Media the humans are clearly completely subjugated, I got a strong impression that humanity was on the brink of extinction.

This is another Frankensteinian dystopia

Finally an example of the portrayal of technology in popular medial, I saw this Black Mirror episode some time last year and it really stuck with me – I have already shared it on G+ but it will stand sharing again (its an hour long!).


It is a strongly dystopic view of the future and the effects of the central tech, which is retinal implants which allow you to record and play back everything you see.  I do not like the implications/potential effects that technology could have on the world and it is not really that far into the future, anyone remember Google glasses? And if you were like me when you saw the advert for the first time you probably thought – cool I want some, although this video did dampen my enthusiasm a bit 🙂

Interestingly I would have to classify this as a dystopia where people have lost control to other people, a tyranny of the masses.