The above video has been the source of an ongoing joke at Reclaim Hosting for many years now. I’ve been carrying the blogging torch and this has been my referent point for a time when blogging was so popular and “hot” it was actually the butt of elaborate video jokes. Well, nothing gold can stay, or can it? I’d hate to jinx it, but the blogsphere truly is hot these days, unfortunate’y the spark seems to have been Audrey saying goodbye to edtech —everything comes at a cost. But hey, maybe blog vinyl is back?
It’s easy to feel fatalistic about bad tech and its big money, but an hour with people thinking about what tech in good hands makes possible rebuilds hope. And as a huge bonus, @jimgroom’s post includes dialogue with @cogdog and others in the comments. Vinyl is back, friends. ?
— Kate Bowles (@KateMfD) June 23, 2022
That might be wishful thinking, but this morning I’m still making my way through the seemingly endless examples of amazing edtech at TRU thanks to Brian Lamb’s opus “A Trailing-Edge Technologies Share-a-thon,” that post goes a long way to remind me why I fell in love with this field to begin with. But that is just the most recent post, there is Anne-Marie Scott’s recent blog chorus “from little things big things grow” should be the tagline of the “Summer of the Blog”—I’m a big fan! And then Alan did what Alan does and mashed up 70s horror film posters with the recent spate of edtech corporate shenanigans while asking “Who we are?” Are we not edtechs? WE ARE TRAILING EDGE LION PUNCHERS*! I really appreciate Alan’s lingering a bit longer on the news cycle of folks turning their back on their roots for what can only be understood as profit. And that’s just a few posts, there are many, and something strange happened this week at work, folks at Reclaim Hosting are linking to these posts and talking about them. The idea, as Martin Weller noted in his “Review of the ed tech angst,” of an edtech community of practitioners felt real, and I felt excited that maybe my ongoing “the blogsphere is hot” joke might be grounded in some reality, even if only for a moment.
What’s more, Martin’s post inspired something in me I had not felt in a long time, the desire to discourse. The idea that someone said something in a blog post you want to respond to, but not in 140 characters and no with a like or heart, but right here in the bava. Whether or not this is a good thing may still be a question 🙂
Anyway, one of the things Martin noted about a couple of posts I wrote was that I might be coming off “like grumpy old music fans who preferred a band before they sold out.” I understand where he is coming from, that there might seem a bit of snobbery in me suggesting that folks traded cachet for cash, but at the same time it’s what happened. I mean Lumen did offload OER courses to Course Hero in what we can only assume was a deal with a questionable company. I don’t think I am exaggerating here, and the schism in the open community that has been happening for years is no longer being whispered at parties, it’s pretty apparent for all to see. I have never been a fan of the OER movement, it has monopolized most of the grant money and oxygen in the broader field of edtech using a series of what appear, in retrospect, cynical frames around affordability and access. But I also struggle with how narrowly OER are defined as open-licensed textbooks, Downes did a great job several years ago pushing back against that frame and that is a future of open resources that is far more compelling and relevant.
The bit that stuck in my craw a bit from Martin’s post was the idea that “a lot of new ed tech people are driven by values, such as social justice, rather than an interest in the tech itself.” I don’t discount this, and speaking just as anecdotally I can see it in the next generation of folks working at Reclaim Hosting. That said, this idea that understanding the tech and remaining interested it what it affords is somehow different than being a critical participant paints a myopic picture that the previous generation of edtechs were simply navel gazing around the latest tools. I’m not sure that’s the case, in fact Brian Lamb’s linking to our “Never Mind the EDUPUNKs” article in his latest post reminded me that understanding and being familiar with the potential of the tech and how these infrastructures work was a source of critical power. And the seemingly false dichotomy between engaging the new tech and being able to remain critical seems to suggest our jobs as ed techs is not about the tech, which seems odd to me. Now I may be reading too deeply into this, or even carting my own baggage here, but I feel like my job as an edtech is to understand the larger shifts technically and culturally so that we can work with faculty and students to provide options that enable empowerment. The risk of critical edtech devolving into malaise of critique without alternatives has never been greater. In fact, seems to me the cynicism in our field is not limited to OER given the leaders of the digital pedagogy movement centered on social justice have also re-framed their mission as one of token critical voice inside the corporate machine. Good ed tech is like good reading, you have to engage the technical and pedagogical work, try and understand it deeply, and then critique as part of the larger landscape while being honest about its affordances at the same time. It is a balancing act that can too easily devolve into “it’s not about the tech…”
All that said, I understand righteousness can come at a great cost, but I find you only have to pay when you actually sell out 🙂 Long live the bava.blog!
*Is that a blog comment conversation I spy? I am sure Tom Woodward doesn’t know what to do with himself when anyone else but Alan leaves a comment 🙂