Via the blog Learning Ecosystems comes notice of ten learning technology trends to watch this coming year. These trends, identified and listed by The E-learning Coach, are as follows:
New media come not as single spies but in battalions. Distinguishing good from bad, useful from useless, truly educational from merely frivolous becomes all the more difficult. Time has traditionally proven a reliable filter in this respect, but the relentless onslaught of the latest apps and devices threatens to overwhelm even this mechanism.
Many of the trends listed have been discussed in an earlier DegreesOnline.net Blog post, so discussion of their relative virtues and demerits won't receive comment here. Rather, the question becomes, Are all these technological advancements really enhancements, or do they simply weave a tangled web of obligations from which it has grown nearly impossible to escape?
This question could be asked about society generally, but it takes on added urgency when considered in the domain of education. A December 22, 2010 post on The Creative Education Blog addresses precisely this issue of new media's impact on young learners. "According to a recent (Nov-10) BBC report one in four teachers in the UK say children with the poorest grades are those who do the most online social networking and two-thirds of teachers questioned said homework was poor as it was being rushed so children could chat online," the post begins. "The report also indicated that 58% of teachers believe that spelling was suffering in the digital age." Children eager to dispense with homework in order to get on with more enticing things is a problem as old as homework itself, but social media, it seems, have added a peculiar twist, giving twenty-first century parents cause for concern.
The Creative Education Blog post strenuously argues the point that social media's connection to students' turning in poorly completed homework is at best tenuous, if indeed not altogether spurious. Placing blame on social media is a red herring, because, as the post puts it, "[t]he issue is behavioural, not technological."
What causes poor grades is a young person’s decision to use the technology inappropriately. Once again … the issue is a behavioural, not technological. I am completely unwilling to accept that the use of these technologies is any different than going out to play sport or meeting up with mates to hang out, or watching TV. You can do all these things appropriately and lead a balanced enriched [sic] life as a result. As Ralph Schroeder is quoted as saying "The web presents novel ethical dilemmas, not ethical novelty."
In fact, as the Creative Education Blog post characterizes it, there exists a technological problem of an even more profound sort than social media's many detractors even realize, and this technology is an extremely outmoded one at that. This outmoded technology is the very idea of education as it's currently practiced, which as a result of its nineteenth-century vintage finds itself ill-equipped to tackle twenty-first century instructional challenges.
Rather than insisting that the road rise to meet them, social media's critics are advised to get with the times. As the Creative Education Blog post so pithily puts it, today's students are "are 21st century learners adapting to 19th century educational ideologies."
People naturally cling to those techniques that won them positive results in the past. Unfortunately, this conservative impulse can grow so dominant as to discourage invention, innovation, and experimentation -- the very activities that generated the knowledge filling schoolbooks today. If the only thing constant is change, then perhaps we best serve young learners by changing things constantly.