• 10Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on Enhancing Education Through Technology

    As a follow-up from a post I wrote last week on the impact of the proposed education stimulus package in the US, I wanted to make note today of what Dave Nagel writes about the progress of the discussions taking place between the House and the Senate.

    Senate, House Look To Reconcile Stimulus Packages; School Modernization up in the Air

    The Senate’s version of the stimulus package introduced compromises that reduced the original bill’s allocations targeted toward education-related programs; nevertheless, education technology came out ahead, with an increase in funding that brings EETT [Enhancing Education Through Technology] to its highest level ever.

    T.H.E. Journal, 2/10/2009

    Seems that instead of making ed tech the target of budget cuts (thank you mr. bush), we may soon see some huge resource injections. Although ed tech will likely see funding come its way, the actual modernization of schools is very much under debate. The question of how much sense it makes to install fiber optic cables into leaky buildings with outdated electrical systems isn’t for me to judge. I’m just waiting to learn about the details of the plans for the training and development of the teachers…

  • 08Feb
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education, Technology Comments Off on You can’t see the painting if you’re standing in the frame…


    I just read a short article by John Naughton entitled, Thanks, Gutenberg – but we’re too pressed for time to read and this concept of the ‘First Law of Technology’ made me think.

    I see the point of the argument (that the short-term impact of new technologies is overestimated while the long-term effects are underestimated). In fact, I’ve personally experienced its truth in my adventures as a learning technologist. Take the virtual learning environment (VLE) for example. Imagine a university that is just introducing it into its teaching infrastructure. Budgets have been allocated and money’s been spent. The VLE is anticipated to change the way the whole institution operates. Everyone is going to start using it right away, at least 50% of all modules with be delivered in blended learning using the VLE within 6 months. Sound familiar? I know!

    As a result of the overestimation of the potentials of the VLE, interest drops to near zero adoption, and although training and development staff are hired to support the integration of the VLE, there is little hope that any use will be made of it. The new appointments are really just political moves.

    Now imagine it’s one year later. Predictions of VLE extinction were wrong. It isn’t a raging fad, but pockets of users have mushroomed and a new realisation has surfaced:

    ‘Perhaps the VLE wasn’t used from the beginning by everyone because no one (except a few tech savants – closeted, of course) knew how to use it or even understood what it was in the first place.’

    The long term effects of the technology were vastly underestimated – the integration of a VLE had the potential to stimulate the develop of technology-based skills that tutors never used because the skills were never needed. The VLE changed teacher’s perspectives of technology – how it works, what it can be used for (in the classroom as well as in their personal lives) and the implications of its evolution and scaling. A tool that was intended to streamline the online storage and delivery of information (cringe) turned into a teaching tool about technology that broadened and deepened teachers’ views of technology.

    Something else struck me as I was going through this article. As I was reading about the birth of the printing press, and books (I vaguely remember what those are…) I found myself thinking about the different ways in which we read print-based text vs. online text. Has the Internet fundamentally changed the way we read? Has it redefined literacy skills? Should reading be taught differently in schools? Should ‘power browsing’ be added to the curriculum? If so, at what age should we start teaching it?

    Any ideas?

    And I know, I know what you’re asking yourself now. “How does all of this digital information processing affect the development and functioning of the human brain?” Well, no need to worry. The answer may soon come from this research conducted by Gary Small, a neuroscientist at UCLA.

  • 30Jan
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology Comments Off on Further evidence of ed tech prosperity in the midst of economic gloom

    Post - Jan 29, 09

    I intentionally set aside some time to read eLearn Magazine‘s Predictions for 2009.  I feel the need to say ‘intentionally’ because I’m finding that if I don’t specifically allocate time to accomplish defined goals, I generally end up tossing away an unfinished To Do List and that just leaves the bitter taste of guilt in my mouth.

    Anyway, continuing on from what I was saying in yesterday’s post, the predictors also anticipate that the lower costs and more convenient access to e-learning will result in its increased demand in the upcoming year.

    Allison Rossett expects to see more technology however with a disproportionate level of understanding of how to use it. Translation: more opportunities for confusion! Not surprising though, as the rate at which new developments in the applications of technology mushroom on an hourly basis, while the training and development initiatives within educational institutions do wonders at keeping skill levels of teachers stagnant in the areas of educational technology. Perhaps this could be an opportunity for improvement – dare I say, a point on the agenda – for schools intent on gaining some footing in these fast paced digital times…

    Mr. Downes predicts the proliferation of synchronous online classes…and considering the number of upcoming online seminars I’m scheduled to have with my tutor groups this year (something I haven’t seen this much of since I started my MA ODE with the OU in 2006), I think he might already be right!

    Roger Schank asks the question, “Does a college degree guarantee any practical (material) success in life?”. He predicts that many institutions will have to evaluate what kind of graduate they’re producing and whether these new entrants into the workforce are capable of contributing in any meaningful way. On this note, I just heard a story from a friend yesterday that many of his former classmates at Cornell are deciding to prolong their graduate studies for one more year in an attempt not to have to face the reality of the current job market. If schools put more emphasis on the development of enterprise and entrepreneurialship in their core curricula, would we have as many ripe students still hanging onto the tree branches?

    I won’t comment on each prediction but have a look through the list for yourself. Ugur Demiray shines a great monetary ray of optimism on the global e-learning industry, Jay Cross touches upon the recent phenomena of closing down corporate training and development departments and replacing them with coaching and mentoring schemes designed to foster ‘a more natural approach to learning’, and David Porush comments on what he sees as the ‘incoming tidal wave’ of returning students as a consequence of current job markets.