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Online learning and higher education: another stroll through questions and considerations. Part two

Every institute of education in the world harbours a dark and dingy stockroom piled high with the detritus of outdated digital technologies: the evidence, not of imprudent expenditure, but of rapid progress. This throws up key considerations when attempting to evaluate the impact of digital technologies on education; the turnover and the timescale...

The story so far...

In part one of this series of four articles, we considered the potential impact of digital technologies on education and the questions this raises for those contemplating the design of an eLearning course.

This week we look at the longer term.

How can I predict what is going to happen in online education in the mid to long term?The short answer is: you can’t - not with any degree of accuracy.Early adopters of the digital model found that investing their time, energy and money in new technologies was a risky business.

But this applies to each and every form of new resource we invest in; it has a shelf life. Somewhere there must lurk a storeroom stacked with turntables and Telex machines, a warehouse teeming with typewriters, telegraphs and analogue telephones and a cupboard chockfull of pagers, fax machines and Betamax videotapes.

Similarly, every institute of education in the world harbours a dark and dingy stockroom piled high with the detritus of outdated digital technologies, the evidence, not of imprudent expenditure, but of rapid progress. This throws up key considerations when attempting to evaluate the impact of digital technologies on education; the turnover and the timescale. Never in history have we seen a technology progress through so many transformative stages as quickly as we have with that of the modern computer.

Granted, early examples of these mechanical engines can be traced back to Babbage et al and we could engage in endless debate as to what we should consider to be the first “modern computer”, but this discussion would merely be academic.

For convenience, if we consider that the first computers were made available to consumers in 1974-75, that Microsoft MS-DOS arrived in 1981 and Apple’s Lisa was the first home computer with a GUI (graphical user interface), we can deduce that the modern computer is a mere 40 years old.

Long after our existing institutions of learning have crumbled to dust, future generations will marvel as archaeologists reveal artefacts from a bygone age, ancient relics bearing the legends Acorn, Amstrad, Atari and Apple.

Never in the field of higher education has so much been transformed so quickly by so few…You can access the complete article 'Online learning and higher education: another stroll through questions and considerations. Part 2' by following the link here.

Missed the previous instalment of Online Learning and Higher Education? Read the previous chapter “Online learning and higher education: a six part ramble through key questions and considerations" by following the link here.

Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart has extensive experience in the writing, directing and delivery of education programmes across a range of media. More recently as a member of the board and management team of the Interactive Design Institute, Michael has fulfilled a wide variety of functions including the development of pedagogy for online delivery.

 

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