Replied to Ed Tech Boxes by Tom Woodward (

I want people with serious concerns about edtech but I want people who see potential. I want people who have goals and see technology playing a role in achieving those goals. I avoid people with easy answers and blinding confidence. Give me people who worry at night that they’re wrong. Give me people who help you navigate complexity but don’t hide it. Give me people who can see when it’s technology causing a problem and when technology is just providing evidence of larger societal issues. These things aren’t angst to me but an accurate and honest view of a messed up world and an attempt to navigate a path to something better.

I really enjoyed this reflection Tom on finding balance, as well as keeping on keeping on. This is something that I tried to capture a few years ago in regards to ‘being informed’ in response the Cambridge Analytica revelations.

One thing that I was left thinking about after reading your piece was a recent interview with Kieran Hebden’s creative use of Spotify. Rather than catering for people who do not care or complaining about the way in which the service surfaces some tracks and not others, Hebden’s seems to ‘see the potential’ in using the swath of music available to create an evolving artefact for listeners to explore themselves.

It would seem that there is always a choice.

Replied to In spite of by Tom Woodward (

The lions are dragging people out to eat them and one guy was described as punching the lion in the face as he’s dragged into the darkness. He had to know that punching a lion isn’t going to work out but what else could you do? I’d like to think I would offer what resistance I could- futile or not. Might as well keep punching the lion in the face, maybe bite its ear or something, as I am dragged to my inevitable doom.

Thank you for the food for thought Tom. I really like your point about looking for things that change your mind. I sometimes wonder if I have been in my support position for too long, but I never cease to find new ideas being added to my toolbox that change the way I see things.
Replied to

Congratulations Greg, really interested in this
and the various findings with the work that I do.
Bookmarked Educational Crises and Ed-Tech: A History (Hack Education)

I want us to think about what it means for education technology — in this crisis or any “crisis” — to permeate people’s homes. Education technology has been offered by its funders as the solution to educational crises for a century now. Look where that’s got us.

Audrey Watters discusses the history of radio and television responses to past crises.
Liked The History of the Future (Hack Education)

We do not know what the future holds. Indeed it might seem almost impossible to imagine how, at this stage of the pandemic with catastrophic climate change also looming on the horizon, we can, as Arendt urges, renew a common world. And yet we must. It is our responsibility to do so. God knows the consultants are going to try to beat us to it.

Replied to Corana exposed the Tradio Tzar | Eylan Ezekiel (

Briefly – On to the substance of Tom’s tweets. I know the UK #edtech world pretty well, and I have never heard anyone say that tech can or should replace the human relationship between a teacher and a learner. In fact, even the great satan in the trad’s bestiary – Sir Ken Robinson says that this human contact is the fundamental element of education. The affordances of technology to support learning are real – and, while there are serious issues we should all be talking about (such as the claiming of our classrooms by VC data pirates – read Audrey Watters people!)

Thank you for your reflection Eylan. I was reading a different piece on the failure of edtech and was left thinking about how this differed from the work Audrey Watters.

We do know — that is, we have decades of research that demonstrates — that some ed-tech works okay for some students in some subject areas under some circumstances. We also know that all of those qualifications in that previous sentence — which ed-tech, which students, which subject areas, what sort of circumstances — tend to play out in ways that exacerbate existing educational inequalities. Under normal conditions, ed-tech is no silver bullet. Why the hell would we expect it to be now?!

Although EdTech has issues, these are often intermingled with a wider system at work. I imagine that Watters would be just as critical of pedagogical practice or classroom strategies. I also never see any discussion of ethics or privacy in these edtech takedowns.

As you touch on, there is a need to move the debate forward, to include more nuance. I am just not sure if discussions of ‘boats in times of floods’ achieves this.

Replied to I Never Was an “EdTech Guy” (CogDogBlog)

what exactly is an “EdTech Guy” (I will gloss over the genderization)? Judging from the stuff I do and blog about here, you will likely lump me in as one, but I pick a fight to differ.

I still tinker as much or more in tech as I did when Dean and I started crossing paths, but technology has never been the reason or the primary focus (nor was it really Dean’s). But I have always sought to understand the stuff underneath, so I can both explain it in human language but also leverage and exploit it.

It never is/was about just the tech.

Although I have always used EdTech, like you my interest was in the various affordances and possibilities. My concern is the name for that? It feels like as much as anything EdTech is a label that leaves others feeling clarity where there may not be very much.
Liked HEWN, No. 337 (

I’m not sure why folks want me to tell them what’s praiseworthy. As I said on Twitter: get your own moral compass. Look at your own practices, at the practices of those around you. And do better.

But more importantly, let’s be clear: the technology industry — education technology or otherwise — does not need my validation. It needs criticism. It needs criticism that refuses to come with sugar-coating and a few plaudits. There are not “two sides” to this issue that deserve equal time. There are not “two sides” — some good and some bad ed-tech — that exist in any sort of equal measure.

Replied to I Don’t Think I’m an EdTech Guy Anymore – Ideas and Thoughts (

My interest has shifted to talking about learning more broadly, stripping away the specifics and focusing on what matters most whether or not it includes a specific technology or not. I noticed recently that many of my talks rarely include much of a reference to technology. The other part of the change for me is that much of what constituted technology in my early years has been either adopted or embedded into learning. Using digital media to create and consume, expanding classrooms to connect with experts and other learners, connecting assessment to technology, effectively using mobile devices as well as exploring the growing interest in digital citizenship were all topics and areas I spent time teaching and supporting. Today those topics, while still of interest do not have the same “newness” that we associate when with think of technology.

Dean, it is interesting reading Audrey Watters’ list of edtech debacles and thinking about where I stand and how that has changed over time. Although I am heavily involved with technology, I find the work that really needs to be done is in regards to change management. It feels like ten years ago the focus was on what was possible in regards to ‘transforming’ education, however as you touch upon, maybe the focus is now needed in other areas, such as learning and possibly policy.
Bookmarked The 100 Worst Ed-Tech Debacles of the Decade by Audrey Watters (Hack Education)

For the past ten years, I have written a lengthy year-end series, documenting some of the dominant narratives and trends in education technology. I think it is worthwhile, as the decade draws to a close, to review those stories and to see how much (or how little) things have changed. You can read the series here: 2010201120122013201420152016201720182019.

I thought for a good long while about how best to summarize this decade, and inspired by the folks at The Verge, who published a list of “The 84 biggest flops, fails, and dead dreams of the decade in tech,” I decided to do something similar: chronicle for you a decade of ed-tech failures and fuck-ups and flawed ideas.

Oh yes, I’m sure you can come up with some rousing successes and some triumphant moments that made you thrilled about the 2010s and that give you hope for “the future of education.” Good for you. But that’s not my job. (And honestly, it’s probably not your job either.)

Audrey Watters closes the decade with an epic post documenting the worst of ed-tech. Full of ‘I forgot about …’ and ‘whatever happened to …’, this post is an important provocation to read and reflect upon in regards to the use of educational technology. Along with Watters’ review of the trends for 2019, she leaves a lot to stop and think about.

In a separate post, Ryan Boren collects together a number responses to Watters’ post.

Liked Rethinking the Context of Edtech (

If we know that we have reached the limits of what education technology can do (edtech 2.0), we now need to think about what education technology should do (edtech 3.0). I strongly believe we should be grounding edtech in the core of the disciplinary conversation, rather than leaving it at the periphery.

Liked HEWN, No. 328 (

Ed-tech is “grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance.” But let’s be clear: this grooming is happening at school, and it’s also happening at home.

Bookmarked EdTech Resistance (code acts in education)

If these are signals of an emerging edtechlash, then educators, decision-makers and the edtech industry would benefit from being engaged in the key issues that are now emerging, namely that:

  • private sector influence and outsourcing is perceived to be detrimental to public education
  • lack of edtech diversity may reproduce the pedagogic assumptions of engineers
  • student distrust of engineering solutions and continuing trust in human interactions as central to education
  • there may be bad science behind positive industry and investor PR
  • new data protection regulations question how easily student ‘consent’ can be assumed when the balance of power is unequal
  • algorithmic ‘accuracy’ is being exposed as deeply flawed and full of biases
  • algorithmic flaws can lead to devastating consequences at huge costs to individuals, the public, and institutions
  • increasingly invasive surveillance proposals raise new ethical and human rights issues that are likely to be acted upon in coming years.

We should not and cannot ignore these tensions and challenges. They are early signals of resistance ahead for edtech which need to be engaged with before they turn to public outrage. By paying attention to and acting on edtech resistances it may be possible to create education systems, curricula and practices that are fair and trustworthy. It is important not to allow edtech resistance to metamorphose into resistance to education itself.

In a presentation for EdTech KnowHow conference, Stavanger, Norway, 26 September 2019, Ben Williamson discusses the topic of resistance to technology in education. This is a useful post as it provides a broad survey of the different ways that people have been critically engaging in this space. Whether it be general questions about technology, concern over diversity, push back from students, scepticism from investors, new regulations and issues with algorithms. I think what this highlights the need to be better informed when engaging with technology.
Bookmarked The most popular social media networks each year, gloriously animated (The Next Web)

It’s hard to remember a world without social media, but it existed – as did a lot of other networks. We tracked their evolution.

This is an intriguing representation of social media over time:

It is useful as a provocation for many conversations.

Bookmarked Banning mobile phones in schools: beneficial or risky? Here’s what the evidence says by Neil Selwyn (The Conversation)

Banning mobile phones in school may seem sensible, but research and similar moves elsewhere suggest a blanket ban may introduce some problems.

Neil Selwyn unpacks the evidence associated with banning mobile phones. He suggests that banning overlooks the immediate measures to deal with cybersafety, ignores the digital distraction associated with all devices, ignores the benefits and misses the opportunity for a conversation. This is in response to the Victorian Government’s announcement that mobile phones will be banned in schools from 2020 in Victoria.

There has been some other interesting responses to this announcement on Twitter, including:

In an extended piece associated with The Project, Jane Caro questions the support that schools will be given and negative culture it creates. She also wonders if staff will also put their devices away too?

Personally, my issues with smartphones is the sustainability of the materials – a point Selwyn touches on elsewhere – and what Kin Lane describes as the ‘sentinelization of APIs‘.

Bookmarked Books on emerging ed tech: a crowdsourced reading list (Bryan Alexander)

Last week I asked your help, dear readers, in selecting a reading for my upcoming summer seminar on emerging technologies.  You responded generously, both here and elsewhere, and I’d like to …

Bryan Alexander collects together a number of texts to further explore educational technology.
Replied to How to Use Learning Goals to Pick the Right Technology Tools by By AJ Juliani (A.J. JULIANI)

In an effort to acknowledge and combat the Edtech Hype Cycle, let’s talk about the learning first, while realizing technology is a part of our lives and is here to stay (and will always be evolving!).

I am glad that you have pushed beyond SAMR AJ. I have tinkered with the Modern Learning Canvas in the past and, like Trudacot, like the way in which it allows you to capture the wider context. In the end, EdTech is an enabler, the conversation I think we need to be having is how it then impacts and integrates with some of the other areas. From this perspective, I find Doug Belshaw’s essential elements of digital literacies a useful provocation for digging deeper.
Bookmarked Adobe Antitrust Concerns: Is the Photoshop-Maker Too Big? by Ernie Smith (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

I really like Adobe as a company, but I think their suite has become so costly and unavoidable for the average creative consumer that they need to be a little bit smaller, so as to allow smaller players to compete without feeling like they have to go up against an impossible behemoth to even make a dent. Maybe Adobe fans won’t like to hear this, but I swear my case here is for the creative community’s best interests.

Ernie Smith explains why Adobe’s role at the center of the creative ecosystem should be of concern. The issue is that there is no longer any space for competition and innovation in this space. We often speak about Google and Facebook in regards to platform monopolies, but Adobe’s move to create and manage the marketing process is worrying.

Adobe is increasingly not only trying to run the software that can create your flyer or logo or commercial, but it’s trying to own the whole marketing process, too, soup to nuts. Some companies might love that sort of integration, and it’s a big reason why Adobe is making all these aggressive acquisitions. But a single company with that much power over a single field is worrying.

Bookmarked Learning the rules of predicting the future – The Ed Techie by Martin Weller (

In short, the future will have much resonance with the present, but it will be one where the relationship between people and increasingly powerful technology is one that is constantly examined and negotiated. I would not expect any grand revolution in the higher education space, the much quoted concept of disruption is almost entirely absent and inappropriate in this space. So don’t expect the type of future often predicted by educational technology entrepreneurs, with all existing universities made redundant by a new technology centric model. Instead we see a continual model of innovation, testing, adaption and revisiting within the constraints of an existing, and robust system.

Martin Weller responds to a request to predict the future of higher ed by identifying four rules:

  1. Very little changes, while simultaneously everything changes.
  2. Change is rarely about the technology.
  3. Appreciate the historical amnesia in much of educational technology.
  4. Technology is not ethically or politically neutral.

Alongside the work of Gary Stager and Audrey Watters, this is a useful provocation to think about the past, present and future of education and technology.