The Teleology of Ed-Tech

There is a certain teleology to the way in which the history of education technology gets told. Its developments are often laid out in a narrative that posits that, as time has passed, education has become increasingly and necessarily technological. It’s a history that crescendos, if not culminates, with the introduction of the computer. And that is key: the computer as the culmination. This story works to position the digital classroom as inevitable, a computational vision for teaching and learning as inescapable.

That this is the story that gets told should not come as a surprise. After all, the field of education technology is, by definition and design, now almost inextricably tied to the computer. The job of the educational technologist is “ed-tech” — it’s right there in the name. The stories that education technologists tell about the past, present, and future of teaching and learning all require ed-tech. To riff on a phrase from literary theorist Frederic Jameson, it is easier (for some ed-tech types, at least) to imagine the end of the university than to imagine the end of the LMS.

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