The Rise of Educational Technology as a Sociocultural and Ideological Phenomenon

D'Arcy Norman, D'Arcy Norman Dot Com, Apr 17, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

D'Arcy Norman summarizes and reviews The Rise of Educational Technology as a Sociocultural and Ideological Phenomeno by George Veletsianos and Rolin Moe in EDUCAUSE, an article worth reading in its own right. The EDUCAUSE article makes three major assertions:

  • The edtech phenomenon is a response to the increasing price of higher education (aka 'market-driven')
  • The edtech phenomenon reflects a shift in political thought from government to free-market oversight of education (aka 'privatized')
  • The edtech phenomenon is symptomatic of a view of education as a product to be packaged, automated, and delivered (aka 'commodified').

Now as I read this article I became increasingly agitated. This is because I have been involved in educational technology my entire life and yet none of these statements is true regarding my own method and motivation. As Norman says, "it’s important to make a distinction between 'online courses and commercial MOOCs' and 'educational technology'." People who identify educational technology with privatized commodified market-driven education, as Veletsianos and Moe do, are part of the problem, as they lead people to believe there can be no benign educational technology, which is a pernicious message to spread.

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