Taking the Hype out of the Hype Cycle

Guest post on the President’s blog by Mark Brown
The history of educational technology has been mostly dominated by an overconfident optimism and sometimes even blind faith in the future. In our circles, the majority of speakers and opinion-makers still try to show educational technology development as a coherent narrative of sequential dialectical oppositions in which the new replaces the old, to use Manuel Castells’ characterization of the Information and Knowledge society. However, our real history is not a straightforward succession of cumulative achievements. It has been a complex itinerary, a difficult navigation through many exciting possibilities, different promising scenarios and contradictory inspiring dreams, but also surprising failures and unanticipated obstacles, unavoidable errors and powerful fears.

The deconstruction of the progressive narrative in educational technology shouldn’t lead us though to a cynical position. By the contrary, we should try to understand the phenomena on a wider and more holistic perspective. Innovation in education cannot be seen as just a simple application of a new method or the use of a new tool. It is usually the result of a cultural transformation process. This has also been the traditional understanding of EDEN and its community. In fact, we have never tried to play the role of the uncritical advocate of every each new educational technology development emerging. No, we don’t see ourselves as preachers. But, as experts. In this way, we fulfil our mission by focusing on building a shared analytical understanding on the adoption and use of the different emergent approaches to educational technology, based on solid research and proven successful practice within specific cultural contexts.

In today’s guest post, I’ve invited my good friend and colleague Mark Brown to reflect precisely on this topic. Mark is a much experienced and very well-known global expert in our field. I’m very proud that he’s just joined EDEN’s Executive Committee as I’m sure he’ll make a great contribution to our Association.

In his critical analysis, Mark discusses the deterministic narrative used in educational technology discourse and suggests an alternative new ecological perspective which builds up on the metaphor of digital resilience. His point being the importance of focusing innovation on the internal transformation of organizational culture instead of imposing it to educational institutions from the outside.


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