“There’s no real new technology, just new contexts”
Steve Wheeler, speaking with Learning Technologies visitors at the Learning eXchange, focused on new technology to support learning.
The Associate Professor of Learning Technology at Plymouth University initially surprised visitors when he said there is "no real new technology; hybrids are emerging that bring you new contexts". Wheeler continued to speak about non-touch interfaces "called gestural technology that we know can be used for games and simulation for new environments; it's how to apply them to enhance and enrich learning."
One eXchange visitor asked: "How do we cope with the level of technical disparity?" Wheeler explained digital divides, the "have and have not, which is socio-economic; the will and will not, which is attitude; and the can and cannot, which is skill. There are digital residents and visitors. How you decide to use technology is not an age related concept."
The conversation moved on to what being a social business means. Wheeler bought together business and technology concepts to say that: "Ethical and social business go together well. Social Media can be leveraged to do things better, to do things that they should be doing, such as give away some of their content and ideas. Unity gave away games developer packs. It increased the user base but they still owned and profited from the means of distribution. It's still hierarchical, but now more social." Wheeler continued to talk about this on a more personal level, saying: "I give away my content for free under Creative Commons Licensing. My research and ideas are amplified."
Another delegate asked: "we have a group of people being weaned on new technology, how can I engage them in the workplace when they get to me?" Wheeler spoke of the concept in general when he said that people now have "different expectations; get over it." The debate was furthered with a visitor commenting that "teachers have to learn the technology and the change of mind-set."
Wheeler separated the conversation from the focus of new technology by saying "some of us have always been giving homework and projects. Flip the roles; student becomes the teacher, the teacher becomes the student. I want to learn from you [students]. Learn stuff on your own, then come back and teach it as you will damn well have to know your stuff. True flipping the classroom is that you are going to learn but I'm not going to teach. I'm going to create the environment for you to take risks and learn from that."
The subject of L&D teams and change was brought up in regards to how to get learning professionals over that technology line who are holding back. This was a recurrent theme in the conversation and Wheeler talked about Roger's Innovation Curve. "Target who you think will adopt the new technology; the instructors, opinion leaders, prominent people. Seek them out first," he concluded.
Professor Wheeler took part in the Learning and Skills eXchange run by TJ and our partner Towards Maturity.