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Enduring Themes and New Horizons for Educational Technology

, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


We, as a community of educators (note, I do not say ‘educational technologists’), have spent decades exploring uses of technology that might enhance teaching and learning. In the last two decades, I and my colleagues have launched ourselves enthusiastically into investigating a number of possibilities – online communities of learners, online communities of practice … (lots of communities), classrooms without walls extending locally and globally, multimedia-enhanced games and simulations, computer-assisted interactive tutorials, just-in-time training, learning repositories, etc., etc. Additionally, now we are exploring virtual worlds, mobile technologies and a range of social media. Our research has persuaded our institutions (and our governments) to change investment priorities; together we have changed the educational (and life?) experiences of thousands and thousands of students. All good … or is it? What have we learned from the overall experience of these last two decades? What are the highlights that have really increased our understanding of how to facilitate student learning? Have we really learnt from the false starts and downright real mistakes?

This presentation is idiosyncratic; it is influenced by my own meanderings across continents and projects. By referring to actual past and present implementations of using technology in teaching and learning in higher education that I have been involved in, I will extract the enduring themes that emerge across contexts and times. These themes include the need to: negotiate educational beliefs in each situation; focus on the details of learning design; consider the importance of relevant and authentic tasks that enable learners to develop lifelong learning and earning capabilities; and accommodate shifting roles of both teachers and learners in a mutual comfort zone so that all participants benefit (teachers have needs too!). In the exploration, I will try to demonstrate how technology can support these educational goals – even the often downplayed so-called web 1.0 suite of options. I am optimistic that we and the domain of educational technology have matured (well, sort of …), and that newer web 2.0 and web 3.0 technologies offer new possibilities. I will conclude with laying down some challenges for those working in this area for the next few years of exploratory adventure …


McNaught, C. (2010). Enduring Themes and New Horizons for Educational Technology. Presented at EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology 2010. Retrieved November 21, 2019 from .