Welcome to Education and Technology Futures, a videocast that highlights interesting trends and connections in the worlds of education, technology, and culture.
It’s awfully easy these days to find yourself looking up and asking, “With all the changes, what has really changed?” In other words, “What’s really new in all the new stuff?” If the coming decade one where we’ll see real innovation or just different wrapping on the same old packages?
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
And, as another saying goes, “Please pardon my French.”
But, if you’re like me, you do find yourself looking up now and then and asking, “With all the changes, what has really changed?”
I was reminded of this again last month when I saw that Randy Suess, the creator of the software for the first online public bulletin board, had died. Along with Ward Christensen, Seuss built the Computer Bulletin Board System (CBBS) in 1978 to give users a central place to share ideas, post notices, and otherwise coordinate without meeting in person.
His innovation led to impactful bulletin board communities like The WELL, which eventually gave way to online service providers like Compuserve, Prodigy, and AOL, which gave way to the Internet, World Wide Web, and today’s social media platforms.
Plenty of evolution through the decades but, on the other hand, how much have things really changed?
Or consider this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Companies are rolling out smarter homes, smarter TVs, smarter showers, smarter clothes, smarter phones, smarter assistants, smarter robots, smarter cars, smarter glasses, and smarter workouts. I mean, I like a good 292-inch 8K infinity TV screen as much as anyone, but are bigger stronger faster TVs really the technology revolution we’ve been waiting for?
Like I said, it’s awfully easy to find yourself looking up now and then and asking, “With all the changes, what has really changed?”
What’s really new in all the new stuff?
This repetitive evolution that, at times, doesn’t really seem to go anywhere, makes me think of Audrey Watters’ decade-ending post on the “100 worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade.” Not surprisingly, for those of us who worked our way through the 1990s and 2000s, many of the failures on her list have a certain repetitive familiarity to them.
New school models, new learning technologies, new learning theories, new shortcuts to student retention and success.
Which makes me wonder what kind of decade the ’20s will be. Will this be a time for real revolution or simply more inconsequential evolution?
My hope is that it will be a time when we come together as a community to deliver the kind of revolutionary, bold ideas needed to address the big challenges facing us as a society.
Citations and Articles of Interest
- Bulletin Board Inventor Randy Seuss Dies at 74
- Online Service Providers
- CES 2020: Preview of Tomorrow’s Tech
- The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade
- Seven Things We Mostly Know About the Planned Instructure Acquisition and Three We Don’t
- Instructure’s Proposed Acquisition is a Bad Risk for Everyone
- Gartner: 10 Ways Technology Will Change What It Means to Be Human
- Ed-Tech Agitprop