Trends in Educational Technology

Recently a college professor published the infographic below about how his fellow teachers use their LMS (learning management system)--Blackboard in this case.  I think this infographic exposes a few worrisome trends in educational technology.
1.  An apparent majority of teachers are using educational technology simply to digitize their old pedagogy.  In this case, the main uses of Blackboard is passing out assignments, making announcements, and entering grades. The infographic may be misleading in this case, but the trend is clear that many teachers are simply turning paper assignments into PDF files and giving multiple choice quizzes online.  This is old wine in new bottles.  What is the point of using technology?  Saving paper?

2. Universities and secondary schools seem to favor a one-size-fits-all LMS.  I can understand a common grade-entry software, but this standardization of learning platforms seems to go against the spirit of innovation and creativity that educational technology has to offer.  Standardization in general is a 20th Century trend.  Standardized tests, national content standards, standardized textbooks, uniforms, standard calendars... it all needs to go.  Students aren't standardized objects.  Why do we try to put them in a standard educational box?  Educational technology should do the complete opposite.  Would we standardize art?

3. Schools continue to pay big money for LMS software, when the services they actually use within the LMS are free on hundreds of other sites?  As the graph shows, the main use of Blackboard was simply posting assignments.  Any free website can do that (Google Sites, Weebly, etc.).  The second use is for announcements.  Again, this could easily be delivered free in dozens of ways for free.  I would venture to guess cheaper "grade" software exists too.

I hope this is simply the early transitional stage of technology integration.  Certainly this infographic isn't the best we can do for kids.  I read an article recently in Forbes Magazine that stated,
"Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know".    
 How long will it be until our education system responds?


  1. "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"

    This seems to fit here. What I've been reading about is mostly that the older generation of teachers are stuck in their ways. They feel that they have spent years of time and effort to develop the course that they are teaching and it is too late now to try to change it. I can see how they would want to feel this way as after developing a "product" for years and taking time each year to refine it into what is working best for them, it is hard to want to completely re-write what they are doing from the ground up.

    The real push of technology into education is coming from the younger generation of teachers (ie, you) that grew up using computers and know how to abuse them to their full potential. It is this younger (and awesomer? :P) generation of teachers that is going to make the difference in how teaching is done.

    It may be a few years beore technology is used in the way that is should be used in education, and education may always be behind by a few years. Same as with business. Businesses are just now starting to adopt online tools to help promote the business and make it more efficient, even though the tools have been in place for a few years now.

    Best bet would be to keep up your good work and share your experiences with every teacher you can and help them to shape their new coursework into someting of a more technological nature. Maybe we could even team up and work out a NFP that would help teachers to convert their courses into tech wonders. Hrmm.

  2. Hey Brian, thanks for the very thoughtful comment. I think you are right, generally the older generations are more hesitant to change, but of course there are some who are leaders too. I think partnerships are a great idea and solution to expose teachers to the possibilities of technology. On that same piece, schools can offer businesses something too. Students are great at networking and advertising. What is an NFP?


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