Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The speed of innovation

In 1997 Philips introduced the first flatscreen plasma television set, Sharp introduced GPS car navigation and Sony showed the first designs of mp3-like players, www was still an acronym for wait-wait-wait. Ten years later we have iPod, broadband internet connections (24/7), sophisticated smartphones, and mini memory cards that can easilty contain 8Gb of data. Ten years ago the University of Twente also introduced it's own e-learning platform TeleTOP (nowadays available from a commercial vendor), which was quite an innovation for that time. However, when we look at the way how the platform is applied today it is not fundamentally different from the way it was used in 1997. The traditional instructional model is supported by an electronic equivalent: planning information, reading materials and powerpoint slides are basically what is being provided by the course sites in TeleTOP. From a more negative point of view, one might even argue that education in general has not dramatically changed over the past 40 years. New educational paradigms are often approached with suspicion. The concept of 'new learning' (het nieuwe leren in Dutch), seems to be contaminated. The pure constructivist view that the learner creates all new knowledge by himself is passed. Some basics/fundamentals need to be developed first, before the learner is able to build new knowledge elements on top of it. The pessimists find arguments that educational innovation is equal to loss of quality. Just recently prof. Rob Martens introduced the concept of positive learning. Especially in this time frame where broadband connections and new media play such a dominant role in daily life it becomes inevitable to think about the educational value of new media. Teleac/NOT - for many years producers of educational media - has recognized this challenge and links to the academic world in order to provide a solid base for their future productions. How do learners process these new media, how can cognitive load be controlled and how does intrinsic motivation play an important role in achieving learning objectives. The world of game based learning also provides perspectives that new media can contribute to an experience in which learning can be fun. It's not likely I think that the development of new learning paradigms will catch up with the development of new technology, but it is at least somewhat odd to stick to old paradigms, while at the same time the outside world has drastically changed.