History shows that new technological solutions are often delivered obsolete on arrival. As the Internet has no tide mark to show where we are up to in terms of delivery – it’s stupid to assume the Internet is all about new. It is also a way to deliver obsolete technology which may also increase costs and lower productivity.

At one time architects were viewed primarily as artists and they depended on the patronage of the church and state for commissions for their artistic building designs. With the rise of industrialism, the market for large-scale buildings worthy of an architects attention broadened, as did the range of building types requested by the different users.

I think this many of the ed-tech architects in the first decade of this century largely adopted this method of patronage, yet few of them have come from a background of adult-education, software engineering or design. Web2.0 today is an obsolete delivery system. Like the proposed ‘Opal’ travel card in Sydney which also comes a decade too late, we are now entering the realms of semantic web (where SEO is increasingly dead), real-time-bidding for search results, unified mobile-desktop synchronisation and mobile phones which are more powerful than any laptop given to a child in the last ten years.

There are numerous examples of obsolete delivery systems that are on life-support for no other reason that architects lobbying patrons to keep the progressive ‘clock’ at 2010 because in 2012, all the low-hanging fruit is gone and people are asking more and more for evidence that [x] will change education for ever.

Playing Video Games at the arcade; renting a DVD at a store; running out of hard drive space; buying a thumb drive; getting an engaged signal on a phone call; going on a ‘blind’ date; needing to be 18 to see certain forms of images and video; driving to work on a daily basis; an in-car CD-stacker; having to get permission to run a server to do (anything) you want; buying a digital camera (non-SLR type); burning a CD/DVD; assuming you have can control your privacy online; paying to see a powerpoint … I’m sure you can add to the list. All of these things are obsolete delivery systems.

Deficits of obsolete delivery systems are (in my view) made from failure in one or more of the following factors:

  • Products are used that to not satisfy the requirements
  • Decisions are made by persons not qualified to make those decisions and not responsible for such decision.
  • Means and methods can expose a teacher and/or student to unknown risks.

Web2.0 was fragile, not because people didn’t get it, or didn’t want to improve practice – it ultimately failed because the delivery system was fundamentally floored and subject to corruption. No one needs another bloody mix tape in 2013 – but I absolutely guarantee the architects of the last decade truly believe they are best place to be the leaders of the next – and will once again recount the glory of the first decade of their rise to glory.

We may transform our ethnocentric habit of mind by becoming aware and critically reflective of our generalised bias in the way we view groups other than our own. Such epochal transformations are less common and more difficult. We do not make transformative changes in the way we learn as long as what we learn fits comfortably in our existing frames of reference.

So get out there, try something new. What new? Who knows …

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