The term “educational technology” implies something special, complex, even mysterious. The term somehow distinguishes technology from the organic process of teaching and learning. To the novice, “ed tech” can feel a little like a secret society or an exclusive club.
But educational technology doesn’t have to be a mystery, and it doesn’t need a secret society. The reality is that we’ve been using educational technology since the dawn of society. The ancient Greeks first defined “techne” as “applying knowledge systematically to the practical art of instruction” (Texas Center for Educational Technology, University of North Texas, 2010). Wait. Doesn’t that mean basically the same thing as teaching?
Somehow, along the way, we’ve separated technology from education. And now that we’ve arrived in the 21st century, there seems to be a whole movement directed at marrying the two again.
But in the 21st century, we’re not just talking about computers anymore, at least not as stand-alone machines capable of conducting complex calculations, processing words, or organizing files.
What educational technology means today is the ability to network and share information through the Internet. It’s the collaborative creation of connected content and the interactive exploration of information. It’s the process of teaching and learning. It’s “techne.”
Whether it’s a piece of chalk, a computer, or one of the millions of educational apps out there, educational technology is simply the creation, use, and management of the tools that help us learn.
Take a look at this presentation on the history of educational technology, compiled by the University of North Texas:
In the 21st century, Don Tapscott’s assessment that being a passive consumer of information is passé, and that the wave of the future is all about linking, molding, and shaping our collective knowledge is what educational technology is really all about (Tapscott, 2009). Its implications are broad, almost too broad to comprehend.
Finding a Focus for gen2oh.net
So what does all this mean for the future of gen2oh.net? Why does this site exist, and what is it supposed to do? The answers aren’t complicated, really. To sum it up in a word, the horizon of gen2oh.net is all about participation.
When you visit Facebook or Twitter or some other social networking site, you read content, share content, and create content. When you take an online course, you read information, share information, and create new information as part of your class discussions or assignments. The ultimate manifestation of the goals of gen2oh.net would be that visitors to this site do the same.
Read, share, create. Connect, collaborate, envision.
To be fair, the vision isn’t really all that unique. The web is starting to get pretty chock-full of sites with similar ideas about using educational technology as a tool for networked learning. A simple Google search will return literally millions of websites related to the matter of how to best incorporate technology into teaching practices, into the classrooms, into educational methods and philosophies. Get a SMART Board! Write a blog! Build a classroom wiki!
1. By January 2012, gen2oh.net will play a role in linking the online world of ed tech by providing comprehensive yet categorized resources for students, teachers, parents, and other educational professionals interested in participating in the future of education, both on the site’s main pages and also within its blog posts.
2. By May 2012, gen2oh.net will incorporate a particular focus on the following:
- School Reform – Educational Policies and Ideas that Make Sense and Change
- Learning Unlocked – Neuroplasticity and the Changing Brain of the Smartest Generation
- 21st Century Projects – Success Stories and Inspiration for Progressive Practices in Collaborative Learning
Most importantly, gen2oh.net will continue to advocate for learners. Just like so many other established institutions, education is primed and ready for dramatic and positive change. It’s time to stop just talking about it and really let students drive that change.
We aren’t sitting around developing tools that fit neatly into our existing infrastructures anymore. Because 2.0 tools connect us in new, even revolutionary ways, we have unprecedented power to change both the game and its outcome.
Technology, economy, environment, ethics… Our modern opportunity to harness and explore our collective knowledge about the world means that creative solutions are more possible than ever before. If the net generation isn’t made of passive consumers of information anymore, then why should they be passive consumers of global education, economic, environmental, and ethical systems that need so much repair?
At gen2oh.net, we intend to embrace and guide that change by empowering Generation 2.0 with networked knowledge and a bold new voice. Join the conversation. Share your story. Be the change.
Apple. (2011). Apple in Education. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from Apple, Inc.: http://www.apple.com/education/apps/?kmed=ppc
Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown Up Digital. New York: McGraw Hill.
Texas Center for Educational Technology, University of North Texas. (2010). History of Educational Technology. Retrieved October 18, 2011, from Texas Center for Educational Technology: http://www.tcet.unt.edu/weblibrary2/overview/?id=33&PHPSESSID=1f41402407f2621f9827509fa7a8d6e8