Bravo to all who shared their “fail tales” and embraced and faced the edtech horrors we’ve created or participated in, over the past few years. The theme for this year’s ETUG Fall Workshop was: “Little (work)Shop of Horrors” and the juxtaposition with Halloween resulted in lots of colourful (?) language, metaphors, decorations and costumes.
It was held at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media – in the Hangar at the side (an appropriate place for a spookey session with it’s endless black, grey and metal, high ceiling and cold, blue lighting.) Kudos to SCETUG and the others involved in hosting this event – I appreciated the diversity of options and your thoughtfulness in providing time for listening, time for talking, time for learning and time to play.
Audrey Watters’ spooky keynote (“(not) a morphology and (not) a rumpus”) reviewed the recent past of educational technology and explored the question “How do you turn a craft, a practice, into a discipline?” Her answers were redolent with references to ghosts, demons, trolls, vampires, and zombies and links to the workshop theme of “fail tales” by encouraging us NOT to abandon our edtech creations “…lest they become monsters.”
She argued for greater awareness of the dragons, the giants and mad scientists of educational technology; the ones who “experiment on students…on public education…” They’re building machines and designing a world that “they alone can control.” And she ended with some thought-provoking messages about the future we are approaching that results from the inflammatory messages, the disruptions, the tsunamis of change and the dismantling of public education. The vision of a globalized networked society is populated partly by our monsters – can you see them?
Some highlights (for me) from the lightning stories of failure (and some successes) were:
- The funny, sometimes acerbic short stories that MC Mike Minions used to fill gaps and set the tone of the Lightning sessions. A gifted storyteller with a deft touch.
- The memories of the recent past shared by Brian Lamb and Irwin DeVries in their hilarious role play augmented by emotionally wrenching groans and squeals from the theremin apps (introduced by Irwin and quickly picked up by several in the audience). I remember the somewhat naive early days of blogs, wikis and the eventual (and inexorable?) domination by the LMS (also noted by Audrey as she described the Blob). A similar, somewhat despairing, but humorous tale danced and told by RRU’s Vivian Forssman related the impossibility of escaping the needs of institutionalized education.
- CDM’s Patrick Pennefather’s closing activity: This “designer of interactive experiences” was a whirlwind of energy and inspired a tiring group to put away tables and chairs before engaging us in a really interesting and energizing activity using Toobees (something I plan to check out for future live activities!). Patrick divided us into small groups, asked us to build the tallest, free-standing structure we could within a set amount of time. After allowing us to relax, enjoy each others’ creations and instill some healthy competition, he got us to do it again and then debriefed the experiences with the group. Lots of interesting insights about how we teach and learn – and a great way to end the day.
A new thing for me this year was hosting a table in the afternoon to awaken interest and participation in an upcoming event that Leva Lee and I have been working on. Inspired by the UK event “12 Apps of Christmas”), we’ve been trying to sign people up for teams (starting with an educational technologist and an educator who uses technology in teaching or who is curious about the impact of technology) to host a BC-centred event this December. If it sounds like fun (cuz it was even as a participant as I was last year) then contact Leva or myself (Sylvia) soon!
A full and enlightening day!
(Sidenote from Audrey’s blog post: Apparently sociologist Bruno Latour wrote, of Frankenstein and his creator, it “was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”)