Tech Therapy and Painting the Battleship

Scott Carlson, a Chronicle of Higher Education reporter and Warren Arbogast, a technology consultant who works with colleges, have a podcast called Tech Therapy. (Subscribe in iTunes) They spoke at the recent NJEDge.Net Annual Conference and ran a podcast session (I think it will actually be a podcast.) live during their talk.

Tech therapy, like talk therapy, is all about talking and getting out what you are feeling. Before their podcast session, they just asked the audience of EdTech, faculty and administrators what was their biggest tech issue right now.

I talked to people from two New Jersey colleges that were piloting the use of either the Kindle DX or the Sony Digital Reader on their campuses. Both people wee involved in the pilot and both seemed to wonder exactly why they were doing the pilot. Well, someone above them had wanted it done - but why? Because eReaders are the tech toy du jour?

I had read when this semester began an article on the Daily Princetonian about their Kindle e-reader pilot program which only took 2 weeks for the 50 students who received free Kindle DX e-readers to say they were dissatisfied and uncomfortable with the devices.

Maybe it was because founder Jeff Bezos was the class of ’86. Maybe they really were interested a sustainability initiative to conserve paper.

One student quoted in the article said:
“Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs. All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”
Of course, eReaders aren't the problem, but they are part of one problem that IT people (the information and the instructional ones) reported in the Tech Therapy session. Tech overload. Too many new technologies to examine, test, learn, pilot and then...

I'm on an EdTech committee that has begun a learning management system review and a college portal review. They have done it before. I have done it before at another college.

My dad was in the Navy and he told me that they would paint the ship and when they got to the end, they went back and started over again. New sailors started painting eventually, but it was the same ship, same paint.

That Princeton student also said, "I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool."

Hopefully, the right people were listening.


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