by George Veletsianos.  

Hi everyone,

I hope you enjoyed your long weekend and that your week is off to a good start.

I made major revisions to this course this year largely to ensure that it aligns better with our current times, and one of the reasons I am using Martin Weller’s book is because his writing style is approachable. I was glad to see some of you mention that you enjoyed the way this book is written.

In the history that Weller present, the first part of the book is what I would call “early history.” The foundations of the read-write Web, the protocol-based Internet, early educational theory that aligns with how the modern Internet works, and so on. “Early history” of course depends on the lens one is using, and depending on how far we zoom out, that “early history” may look different. It may feature film strips in the military for example. Or, the radio as an educational technology. Or, television. While Weller isn’t covering these, both the radio and TV have a rich history in the field as they were used in unique ways for distance education. Speaking of television as part of the history of educational technology, this short article on the use of TV in schools in Mexico highlights some of the discussions that I’ve seen this week on your blogs even though we focused on other technologies:

Some of those discussions focused on access to technology and access to education and how those differ between people, between countries, within countries, between contexts.

This week, we are going to move closer to current time, and delve deeper into aspects of the Web that brought us the social platform that it is today. As we are doing so, we are also going to be seeing the field’s interdisciplinary foundations. I am a firm believer in interdisciplinarity because it allows us to tackle problems or develop solutions from multiple perspectives. For example, we can think about online learning from a design perspective (e.g. “how do we design opportunities for deep engagement?”), from an engineering perspective (e.g., “how do we create learning opportunities that scale to hundreds or thousands of people?”), from a data science perspective (e.g., “what data do we need to collect to make online learning more effective?”), or even from a moral philosophical perspective (e.g., “should the online platforms we are developing be collecting all these data from students?”). On the other hand, the field’s interdisciplinarity seems to have caused trouble at times, as newcomers may fail to recognize that behind all the shiny new technologies there is a long history and that we know quite a bit already about how people learn, how they learn with technology, and how some pedagogies may serve some goals better than others. The last few years in particular have seen many re-inventions of the wheel – which as you saw is the grounding idea of Martin Weller’s book.

I reached out to Martin and he was very gracious to agree to answer some questions that you may have about his work pertaining to the book. I suggested that we send him a list of questions, so that he can pick and choose which ones to answer. I was hoping to him as a guest during our meeting in a couple of weeks, but he is going on vacation leave so he isn’t going to be able to join us in real-time. If you have any questions that you’d like to ask Martin, please add them to this document by Sunday evening, and I’ll send them to him next Monday:

Talk to you soon, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out if I may be of any help!