Where Were Going We Don’t Need Roads (The future paths of education?)

For this critical analysis, I have selected Connie Malamed’s piece entitled “Learning Technology Trends To Watch In 2012”, which highlights potential educational trends for instructors and students based upon the convergence of informal and social media, as well as the increased use of smartphones and tablets within multiple learning environments, and the impact each may have.  To facilitate this analysis, I will review each technology based upon how, and how much, I feel the technology will be found useful and valuable to the the broader community of educators, as well as learning technologies specialists and venturers, and my thoughts on the overall importance of this article.


The ability of educators to utilize Social Media tools to communicate through various professional development activities, has allowed for the curation of the knowledge gained during these sessions to further the learning opportunities for those that were directly involved in the professional development, and for those unable to attend.  This powerful addition to professional development, not only strengthens the overall session(s), but has the potential to radically transform our thoughts on what professional development might look like.  Unfortunately, this is a practice which has been mostly embraced by technologically inclined educators, and district specialists at this time, not the general level educator who may have heard of various Social Media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, but do not readily access these platforms for educational benefits or see how these applications can be used educationally.  For the educational venturers, monetization of this technology may be found in curating, housing, and repurposing the backchannel information that is found freely on the Internet, allowing less technically inclined educators the ability to easily access and utilize this information for a small monthly or annual fee.

Content Curation

As the Internet grows almost exponentially, it is becoming more difficult to stay informed on any particular topic.  To alleviate this issue, digital curation sites have allowed individuals or small groups to provide meaning to specific content, through their ability to introduce, maintain, update, organize, and summarize relevant information related to various topics.  Even though there is value in this service for individual teachers, districts, etc, I do not find it currently valuable.  For one, most general educators utilize Google to locate any resource they find necessary at the moment, and are most likely unaware of such curation services.  Secondly, technology specialist may utilize this service as part of their Professional Learning Network, but it will not constitute or replace their entire network.  Lastly, venturists’ would have to rely heavily on the human machine to facilitate this venture, much like Yahoo utilized humans to index the web.  Speed and accuracy is important, and given enough time and incentive, algorithms could be invented and easily inserted into any search engine page to replace the current service and greatly reduce potential profits for companies focusing specifically on this service.

Developing in the Cloud

The ability to create and host various applications from the Internet have huge potential for the world of education, both within the classroom and at home.  For no longer does the operating system matter, the battle between Mac and PC is a moot point at best.  Students working at school, can now easily work at home on the same project utilizing the same technological resources.  In some cases, the general educator has embraced this form of technology, the most notable being Google Docs, which freely provides the basic, yet necessary functionality found in most word processing programs, and allows for easy document creation, sharing, and multiple live editing.  This specific cloud technology has been easily embraced by the general educator as it emulates traditional technology that has been around for nearly three decades.  However, non-traditional cloud based technology, such as online photo and video editing has not been as embraced to this date by the general educator.  However, learning technology specialists continually access and utilize various forms of this technology, as a way to expand the services they provide without the significant budgetary expenses usually associated with new software.  As a venturist, a potential revenue stream for an unknown company could be difficult, unless the product is exceptional.  Most worthwhile cloud based applications, which have been created by large well-established companies, such as Google or Adobe (which do not require venture capital), allow these companies to expand their user base with minimal expenses.

Expanded Instructional Designer’s Role

The ability to research, develop and eventually deploy good educational resources will have a place within most educational systems for the foreseeable future.  For these ready-to-use packets provide educators with various resources, learning guides, assessment banks, and classroom activities, all of which enhance the overall learning environment, yet reduce the demand placed on an already overtaxed educator.  Both general and specialist educators access these resources, and at times play a role in either their creation, or by piloting early projects.  However, individual knowledge on accessing or becoming an instructional designer is limited at best, which reduces the overall value of this specific technology role, forcing all the value to be placed on the final product.  As for venturists, this field is mature, with heavy hitters like Pearson constantly expanding and absorbing valuable ideas and products to increase their market share.  However, if an exceptional product becomes available, the investment into either the person or product might eventually pay off.

Flipped Learning

The concept of the flipped classroom has intrigued many educators, especially since tools such as YouTube and the Khan Academy allow teachers to easily, and at this time, freely create or utilize media lessons to instruct students at home, while class time is used to provide student reinforcement or enhancement based upon individual skill level.  Similar approaches are also finding their way into Teacher Professional Development sessions, allowing for more meaningful learning opportunities to occur.  My concern with this is approach is not its ability to induce positive change, but that most educators comfort level with this approach would be low, and this heavily relies on most if not all students within a classroom having sufficient technology and Internet access to facilitate this pedagogical approach.  It is for these reasons, that I feel general and specialist educators will hold off on this approach, until significant technology penetration has occurred within the home.  As well this idea is in its infancy, which may be enough to cause venturists to be cautious, as solid delivery and potential revenue streams are limited or undiscovered at this time.


The concept of using games or game like situations to engage students within the classroom has potential to increase student motivation, achievement, and allow for 21st century learning to occur within a somewhat controlled learning environment.  General Educators and Specialists would embrace this approach, however there are significant pitfalls.  Firstly, many instructors would initially associate this approach to electronic games, and gaming systems, which it may include, but is not limited too.  This stigma limits the implementation of this approach within many classrooms, for society is beginning to stress the importance of limited, but meaningful screen time.  Secondly, the time, energy, resources, and creativity needed to design, develop, and deploy a meaningful learning product is tremendous, which further reduces the number of teachers who would adopt this approach in class.  However, a venturist may find profit in this approach, if a solid product is available, unfortunately many products become dated quickly, have limited student engagement, and are unable to handle varied curriculum from province to province, making this a risky venture in the end.

HTML 5 for Mobile

The ability of HTML 5 to allow various mobile and tablet devices to access multimedia rich content is an important step in ensuring the continued, and expanded use of technology within the classroom.  However, as with many technical aspects of Educational Technology, HTML 5 and its ins and outs are unimportant to general teachers, who are more concerned if we can see the video, rather than how the device is able to see the video.  Technology specialists, who instruct their students on specific coding languages, may find more benefits of using HTML 5 as an instructional tool.  Venturists would find no potential revenue in the code itself, but may wish to investigate companies that are utilizing this and similar languages to provide interactive, multimedia content to various mobile devices.

New Blended Learning

As with the flipped classroom, I believe general educators would find value in providing this opportunity for their students within the traditional and modern classroom environment.  Unfortunately, like the Flipped Classroom, this approach would be beyond most general educators comfort and technical skill level.  Therefore, for general educators to find value in this approach, they would have to ensure consistent communication with local experts to enhance both their comfort and knowledge levels before consistent and continued use could occur.  Specialist teachers who are exploring ways to enhance the learning experience would embrace this approach if they have not already done so.  For not only does it allow the teacher to instruct in a traditional manner if necessary, but allows multiple pedagogical approaches to be implemented, which could potentially meet all students where they are at.  A venturist, when looking at Blended Learning, should focus specifically on providing the portal that educators and students would use to facilitate this approach.  In my experience so far, no single application has successfully achieved the right balance of necessary instructor control and student flexibility needed in today’s learning environments, which if found could easily become highly profitable.


Upon review of this document, I found some of the material simply a review, some expanded my knowledge in areas, while a few provided information or insights that I was currently unfamiliar with.  Therefore, based upon my skill level, needs, and interests, I would actively seek out updated versions of this document, or similar documents from other services.  For these documents provide opportunities to further both my knowledge and skill level into new areas of technology, which may either help my practice within the classroom, or as a continuous learner, which is essential in todays modern learning environments.  However, my recommendation of this article would be based upon the skill, knowledge, and interest level of my fellow educators, which unfortunately would be a very small number within my district.

Posted in: Week 02: The Edtech Marketplace