Reinventing the wheel in Educational Technology: A perpetual drama ?

Daniel K. Schneider gave an invited keynote talk at KM2023, 28 June – 1 July 2023. Hosted by the Centre Universitaire d’Informatique (CUI), University of Geneva, Switzerland.

Overview: History of educational technology is not remembered. Seasoned researchers and practitioners complain that artifacts and practices are presented as new and innovative when most often they are neither newnor inventive: prior research and field experience are either unknown or not considered. We can observe new “wheels” for different topics every 10–30 years and that newly hyped educational solutions are mostly technology-driven. For example, educational videos came into existence over 100 years ago and are being sold as a miracle solution every now and then, the last time for Covid emergency teaching and
before that during the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “tsunami”. Both ignored decades of theoretical and practical work on distance education and media-enhanced learning, leading to low-quality
learning experiences. Similar observations can be made for educational designs that use computer-assisted learning, simulations, constructive environments, virtual environments, gamification, analytics,
Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based recommenders, communities of learning, etc. Reinventing the wheel does lead to innovation but according to “a three steps back, four steps forward” principle resulting in innovation life cycles of 30–100 years. We will discuss some ideas to improve the progression, including knowledge management architectures and initiatives, incentives for sharing knowledge, shared Open Educational Resources (OER), communal constructivism and other knowledge building pedagogies, sustainable software initiatives, very long-term funding for educational reforms and environments.
Additionally, we will speculate why knowledge conservation and transmission fails. We will conclude that change may require substantial reform of the educational, research and development systems.