Audrey Watters: The Ed Tech Skeptic

Digital Identity

Ed Beck, Teaching, Learning and Technology Center

A colleague recently shared with me an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education in which Goldie Blumensyk, the one of the Chronicle’s senior writers on the topics of innovation and technology in higher education.

It starts…

A conversation with ‘ed tech’s Cassandra.’

The head of higher education’s largest technology association and the ed-tech industry’s best-known skeptic walked into a podcast. And nobody got hurt…

The Edge: An Ed-Tech Leader Meets a ‘Cassandra’

Audrey Watters is a frequent critic of Ed Tech movement. She first came on my radar with her criticism of Educause’s “The Horizon Report,” a huge publication that comes out each year trying to forecast the future of educational technology in higher education. Her rebuttal is titled, The Horizon Never Moves, and she points out the degree to which the same ideas get recycled and rebranded and still get talked about whether they are one year away or 3 years away.

So for someone that has made her name giving just criticism to an entire industry, the point in the article that really sticks out to me is when Watters is asked, “What trends in Ed Tech get it right?”

I was thrilled that one of her answers was Domain of One’s Own, a tech initiative that aims to give students an opportunity to build their web presence while in school, teaching them to manage on online, professional persona and curate a professional portfolio of their achievements, their academic, co-curricular and personal. It’s something that I think about a lot.

We started SUNY’s Domain of One’s Own initiative at SUNY Oneonta through grant funding from the Innovative Instruction Technology Grant program, and piloted a shared service with other colleges in the system. Today, that services is continued by SUNY OER Services and the SUNY Library Consortium.

In the TLTC, we have piloted an open learning space called the SUNY Oneonta Openlab. At the OpenLab, we have tried to make it easy to create a college supported website for a course, project, organization or portfolios. Additional training and support is available from the TLTC staff. We see the Domains of One’s Own space an important tool for those who wish to do Project Based Learning or Learning Portfolios with their classes. We also see how this type of pedagogy, which asks the students to co-create with their faculty members and colleagues could be a powerful tool for an undergrad student.

Check out the article! Let me know what you think. Personally, I enjoy a well-informed skeptic. It helps to remind me that technology is never the purpose, it’s about putting students in the best learning situations.

I hope to continue to highlight the great work of our faculty members and students that are doing this type of work.

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The following focus areas were developed through the examination of AAC&U’s High Impact Practices together with the mission of the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center. Click on each button to see projects we are working on, what we are reading in these spaces, and examples on our own campus.

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