We were promised jetpacks

By | September 10, 2014

Going off very little research except a quick skim read of the Wikipedia page for Education Technology I have discovered that an Educational Technology is something that is ‘improving performance’ in the education system. The page has a few technologies listed as examples; these examples are a mix of both physical and software related things that could be used to improve organisation or connectivity in some way. Criticisms on the page were generally around cost and lack of research in to return on investment.

The reason I was on the Educational Technology Wikipedia page was to see what it said about technologies or criticisms related to privacy. This is because, as the rambling nonsensical nature of my blog presumably reveals, I am very confused about what Education Technology actually is, or whom it is to benefit. One thing I do know is that I have been very interested in privacy recently and since I have job in Educational Technology I presumed the two might be related, so as all students hoping for a quick answer do, I checked Wikipedia.

I know many students who feel trapped by the system because they have to play this weird game of submitting the right sort of data to a particular data entry point in the right format. If they can please the right people with the right assignment type/survey response/loan repayment then they will get through. It feels like an outright bribe might be easier. So, I guess this is why I am interested in privacy and education, because it feels like education system became this skilled manipulator that commands a network of informants against its students. Wikipedia didn’t have anything about these informants or how the system can manipulate students in the EdTech page, but I feel like it should have something about technologies or initiatives that can help the student avoid being caught in the trap and to help them better decisions for themselves.

A colleague last year said that 2013 felt like 2002 to him, there were lots of cool exciting technologies in the pipeline and in a few years the best would be victorious. I pictured that we would be living the dream, presumably flying around the classroom in our jet packs, paid for with Google AdSense revenue. I did not dream that the technologies where mass users are the product will be victorious, I wonder why Facebook purchased the Oculus Rift.

I find it interesting that both privacy and analytics technologies are double-edged swords. Do we employ Learning Analytics as the informant against the student or to empower the student in his decision maing process? What if the best thing for the student is to leave us behind? Does TOR give people the freedom to educate themselves on subjects without censorship or the power to purchase drugs at dirt-cheap Bitcoin prices.

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