Those of us “semi-veterans” with 20 or so years teaching experience are kind of a “gap generation” with classroom technology. When we started, it was all wooden desks and blackboards. Whiteboards and pens were still considered avant-garde, and carrying a laptop made you into a ransel-carrying shougakusei. Most of all, materials were simple: a book had a bunch of paper pages between covers, and you ordered a sample copy which looked pretty much the same. Now, we have all this wonderful technology, but when we invest our hard-earned kenkyuuhi we are not always sure what we are going to end-up with. Dissatisfied younger teachers would winge and whine on their Facebook pages about the inherent unjustness of the universe, but we oldsters might just start looking for the chalk again. Or, would we? University of the Ryukyus professor and technophile George MacLean has one possible solution to the “Hey!-this-is-not-what-I-meant-to-order!” blues.
Towards an ed-tech editorial convention
I was recently asked to imagine a dream gizmo or app that I would develop if someone gave me 100 million dollars and 20 years of free time. Certainly there are machines and applications being developed daily that will enhance classroom instruction, however my concern lies more with the end-users and how to more effectively ensure that said machines are actually adopted. Unfortunately, despite the fact that vast amounts of time and money are being devoted to developing technologies that are used in education, the end-users are often not sufficiently consulted. They have technology foisted on them that is often functional, but could be easily adapted to great effect with a little more consideration of end-user needs.
Toward that end, I think it would be helpful to establish an editorial convention for studies that feature the use of technology for education. Editors and journals could recommend or require that papers discussing specific ed-tech devices or software include a dedicated section where the authors briefly evaluate the pros and cons of whatever technology they used. If this section was given appropriate keywords, it could generate the right hits on the Internet and allow potential researchers to amalgamate this information to a point where it acquires critical mass, can be written up, and perhaps even influence future development efforts.