The Top Ed-Tech Trends (Aren’t ‘Tech’)

Every year since 2010, I’ve undertaken a fairly massive project in which I’ve reviewed the previous twelve months’ education and technology news in order to write ten articles covering “the top ed-tech trends.

from Pocket

This is a really interesting post from one of my favourite blogs, Hack Education. It’s the rough transcript of a talk given by Audrey Watters, about her work developing the ‘top ed-tech trends’. She talks about the ways in which this cannot be predictive, but is a ‘history’ of technology, and one which is immersed in claims made about technology by the people who are trying to sell it to us. Technology, she says wryly, is always amazing.

I want us to think more critically about all these claims, about the politics, not just the products (perhaps so the next time we’re faced with consultants or salespeople, we can do a better job challenging their claims or advice).

Her argument is a profound one, and one which coheres nicely with the principal themes in EDC. Her conceptualisation of technologies is that they are ideological practices, rather than tools, and rather than things you can go out and buy and in doing so render yourself ‘ed-tech’, a form of technological solutionism. They have a narrative, and that narrative includes the $2.2 billion spent on technology development in 2016.

Personalization. Platforms. These aren’t simply technological innovations. They are political, social – shaping culture and politics and institutions and individuals in turn.

Watters ends with a plea to us all. When we first encounter new technologies, consider not just what it can do, or what our ownership or mastership of the product might say about us. But also consider its ideologies and its implications.

Really, definitely, absolutely worth reading.