Over the years I have gained a reputation at my college (and out and about) of talking about shiny stuff. I even called a mobile learning project Shiny as a result.
Though one thing that came out of a recent conversation with some extremely clever and bright people at a JISC symposium was the importance of dull technology. Dull as in not shiny rather than, dull as in boring.
For those of us involved in extreme e-learning or technology enhanced learning, we sometimes focus on the innovative, the exciting, the new, the shiny stuff. Well it’s where we want to be isn’t it, cutting edge and all that? We want to be using iPads, Android Tablets, the latest and best Web 2.0 tools and services. We get so excited at times that we even do projects and research on them, before writing it up, putting the stuff on a shelf and moving to the next new shiny thing.
I don’t think that there is too much wrong with that, some people do need to be at the cutting edge, they do need to be the blue skies thinkers, the people who innovate and create new ways of learning, inspired by changes in technologies and thinking.
As a result it can be very easy to forget the dull, the stuff we were using last year, two years ago or five years ago. We can even be dismissive of these dull technologies, pointing out how old they are, how useless they are “now” and that they are dead!
The main reason why dull technologies are important is that the majority of practitioners within an institution will not be at the cutting edge, will not be using all technologies innovatively. This means when planning training and staff development it is vital that dull technologies are included and allowed for. Just because we are bored with something doesn’t mean that someone else in your organisation will find it exciting and just the thing to solve the particular problem they are facing.