HEWN, No. 297

"Everything changes. Don't be afraid." -- Al Swearengen

I founded Hack Education in the spring of 2010 because I felt as though the coverage of education technology by technology journalists, when there was coverage at all, was roundly terrible.

It’s still terrible. Arguably, it’s gotten worse.

Instead of mostly ignoring ed-tech, now tech investors and entrepreneurs pour money into it and to the marketing of its associated practices, products, politics. Their designated storytellers dutifully retype the industry press releases and spread the industry narratives. These storytellers have no sense of context, no sense of history, no substantial knowledge about the subject matter, but they are well-connected and well-funded. To them, everything in ed-tech is glorious and innovative (except Blackboard, of course); and the adoption of technology, which they’re certain has never happened ‘til now, so long overdue. MOOCs, blockchain, VR, iPads, YouTube, digital flashcards — these are all poised to revolutionize education forever, the storytellers have insisted.

Until they’re not. Then the storytellers will furrow their brows and throw a line or two into a tale, suggesting perhaps perhaps perhaps there are privacy issues or security issues or sustainability questions or pedagogical problems. But any concerns are all quickly forgotten as often the very same storytellers the very next day tout the very same problematic product, no mention at all that are concerns or criticisms. Ed-tech relies on amnesia.

Ed-tech is a confidence game. That’s why it’s so full of marketers and grifters and thugs. (The same goes for “tech” at large.)

I wrote this past week about “The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology in 2018.” It’s the ninth year in a row I’ve reviewed and analyzed all the year’s bullshit. It’s also the last.

I'm focused on the book now. Yes I am. I want it to be good, and I want it to be smart. To get there, I have to ignore the 24-7 news cycle of press releases and empty punditry because I am quite certain that those are precisely the things that helps keep ed-tech trapped in its ignorance. (The same goes for “tech” at large.)

2018 was, as Librarian Shipwreck argues, “a disastrous year.” The disasters are older than 12 months, no doubt, and the turn in the calendar year will not mean we leave them behind. But for me, I am going to leave behind my day-to-day, week-to-week chronicling of the disasters of ed-tech. I don’t have enough energy or time or money to battle the storytellers’ marketing at their frequency, at their decibel level. In the new year, I’m taking a different tact.

This week’s pigeon is an archangel pigeon:

(Image credits)

Yours in struggle,
~Audrey