NLII

It seems appropriate that my first real post comes from a conference on the use of technology in higher education. NLII stands for the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative, and is a wing of EDUCAUSE, an organization dedicated to the integrating of higher education, pedagogy and technology.

This is the second day of the conference, although Steve G. and I got here after all of the sessions yesterday due to “mechanical difficulties” on our flight from DC.

New Orleans is great, but we’ve spent all day inside, so we haven’t seen much. [This is the first conference I’ve been to that has food at every break. It’s good food, but 1) you don’t get out to the local eateries and 2) you eat WAY too much. ]

Anyway, on to the conference itself. It’s been interesting, but also overwhelming. I’ve been familiar with most of the technology that’s available to higher education (wikis, blogs, blackboard/WebCT, wireless and/or mobile communications/web surfing, etc.). What’s overwhelming is partly the language of “technified” educational theory (which at times seems worse than Dilbert’s worst business language), and partly the way that the discussions in these sessions, almost without fail, breaks down into a dichotomous response from the academics in the audience. First, there are those who are concerned that the addition of pervasive technology will ruin the classroom and the pedagogical experience (and weaken or completely remove their control over their classrooms, their curriculum and their students). The second group includes those who seem to think that technology is the answer to everything. They have a tendency to tell members of the first group that they need to suck it up since their world is going to change anyway and there is nothing to do but accept it.

Not surprisingly, I feel like there has to be some middle ground. [And that perhaps these two groups agree on a number of important things, e.g., the complete transformation of the higher educational experience, that we still have to wait and see.] As a historian of technology, I’m also very skeptical of any prediction of the future. [More later….]

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