Where will all the educational technologists go?

In the not too distant future, there will no educational technologists. That is, there will eventually be no people who specialize primarily in teaching other people how to use technology. The reason why we have educational technologists now is that the rate of change of technology is so high that many people struggle to keep up with the changes, and so some of us have specialized in "keeping up with changes in technology."

The positions that will exist will be analogous to the role of librarians in schools, who do not primarily teach people how to operate books, they teach them how to read and utilize books (and other forms of text material) to learn about the world. In fact, it seems quite likely to me that librarians in the future will include at least a minor role in teaching others how to research using technology, and how to use and critically examine technology as a learning tool, in much the same way that many librarians do already.

Moore’s law, which famously states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles every two years, may be more appropriately modelled with logistic growth rather than exponential growth. Logistic growth behaves very much like exponential growth initially, but as finite limits in resources or capacity are reached, growth slows down, and eventually levels off. It is very likely that instead of run-away technological growth and a singularity, that we will eventually reach a point where our hardware capabilities will remain somewhat stable, and when this happens, eventually software will follow suit. A strong benefit of software equilibrium is that bugs in code will be less frequent, and interoperability between different software will be easier to maintain, leading to technology which is much more reliable overall.

What this means is that the rate of change of technology will eventually slow, and people will have to devote less of their time to keep up with the changes, which means that being specialized in "keeping up with the changes" like educational technology people do, will be less of an advantage over others.

Another possibility is that technological change will not slow down, and that eventually there will just be people who have merged with the technology, and people who have chosen not to. In this case, educational technologists will be equally unimportant as the people who do not merge will be completely left behind by technology, and the others will not need our support. This kind of scenario is fairly dystopian from my point of view, so I prefer the first alternative.

A third possibility is that our ecosystem crashes completely, and our civilization follows soon after. In this case, we will not need educational technologists because we will be spending most of our time just trying to survive. Again, the first scenario for me is far preferable!

Given that equilibrium in software is likely to happen long after hardware equilibrium, our roles are probably safe for at least a couple of generations.

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