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Q & A with Ed Tech Leaders: Interview with J. Michael Spector


Educational Technology Volume 55, Number 3, ISSN 0013-1962


J. Michael Spector's academic preparation was in philosophy--epistemology and logic, primarily. His dissertation was on skepticism in modern philosophy, and that led him to a deep-seated appreciation for classical skepticism. The word "skeptic" is derived from the Greek word "skepsis," which means investigation. While the popular usage connotes doubting or questioning, the philosophical notion implies that one is searching. To search means first that one must admit to not knowing something, and then to commit time and effort to the search in order to determine an adequate answer. Skepticism, in the philosophical sense, is the foundation of science. Science makes progress because scientists admit to not knowing or understanding something, and then they conduct investigations to better understand what they do not know. That perspective permeates what Spector has been doing for the last 25-plus years in the area of educational technology. In this interview, Spector opens the conversation by saying that various investigations have led him to an interest in how technologies are being used in schools and how teacher preparations, professional development, and school-district-state-national policies impact learning. He makes an observation that initial findings suggest that technologies can help but also hinder learning, that teachers are generally well-intentioned but often lack training and resources needed to impact those who most need learning support; and that policies typically sound reasonable but often turn out to become impediments to improved learning instruction. Also discussed in this interview were the rapidly accelerated rate of change in technologies. Here Spector remarks that what has not changed are the basic goals of education: (1) to develop an educated and literate citizenry; (2) to develop productive workers; (3) to develop critical thinkers and effective problem solvers; and (4) to develop life long learners. Other subjects covered in the interview were complex domains, intelligent support for instructional design; learning objects; and Research v. Blogs.


Shaughnessy, M.F. & Fulgham, S.M. (2015). Q & A with Ed Tech Leaders: Interview with J. Michael Spector. Educational Technology, 55(3), 60-63. Retrieved January 29, 2020 from .

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