With the fall semester back in full swing, it’s not surprising that one of the trending topics in the ACI Scholarly Blog Index is educational technology. With posts ranging from enthusiasm and creative exploration to reflections on edtech’s successes and failures, not to mention numerous calls for reframing its stance on learning outcomes and education, conversations from educators and theorists from the K-12 sector to colleges & universities are covering all angles and perspectives currently trending in edtech news and debates.

Below are just a handful of countless posts by scholarly bloggers writing on topics in educational technology.

edtech list

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In the Eduflack blog post #Edtech and E-Learning InfluencersPatrick Riccards reports on the list of the top education influencers in social media released by oanalytica, giving us the top ten individuals and the top ten companies and/or brands to follow for discussions in online learning and educational technology. Riccards also mentions the list by Michael Petrilli at Education Next in the post Top K-12 Education Policy People on Social Media 2015. While Petrilli’s annual review is based on those whose primary focus is education policy, those with an interest in educational technology should find some valuable influencers to follow. (Plus, Petrilli lets us view his full list in this Google spreadsheet.)

In The ABCs of EdTech: A is for App Development, Innovation: Education blogger Audrey Homan has a really cool post on steps you and your students can take to build your own edtech app mockups. In her post, she offers tips and advice on using app design and testing to boost student learning “in a way that is connected to their outside-of-school life”.  Homan’s post also includes images and screenshots of her own exploration in app-building in order to help you better visualize possible approaches and integrations into your own class workflow.

App-building projects might come in handy considering recent moves towards enforcing higher standards for access in mobile technology, and there is a growing interest in educational technology finding more effective ways to incorporate those standards. Just yesterday, JD Supra posted on the Department of Justice’s recent push towards more accessibility in edtech, noting that this “serves as an important reminder to schools and colleges that they must carefully consider their obligations under the ADA when adopting new learning technologies”.

It’s a timely reminder as many colleges and universities are working on developing their educational technology resources. Penn State, for example, just announced their new EdTech network, pointing to the growth in online learning and technological applications in modern education as examples of edtech being used to improve student outcomes. The new Network is even hosting a summit to “provide an opportunity to discuss transformational ideas, products and services designed to advance teaching and learning”.

In his post The buzzwords of #edtech, George Veletsianos reflects on the recent Chronicle of Higher Ed article Buzzwords May Be Stifling Teaching Innovation at Colleges. In his post, Dr. Veletsianos writes: “I would counter that the big (and unsubstantiated) promises are a greater problem than the buzzwords, but the lack of clarity on what these concepts refer to are an issue, too”. In the blog e-Literate, Phil Hill tackles the “technocentricity” of the evaluation and assessment of what works in educational technology in the post Ed Tech Evaluation Plan: More problems than I initially thought. Similar to what he wrote in a previous post, Hill discusses the problem of evaluating the effectiveness of edtech apps without considering that the technology exists secondarily – that they exist to support the “pedagogical innovations or student support structures” that serve as the base foundation for learning.

Annie Murphy Paul seems to second this point in her post Affirmative Testing Blog: Evidence-Based EdTech. In highlighting both older and upcoming research on instructional techniques as a foundational basis for improved learning outcomes, Paul reflects on the tendency for some to be blinded by new innovations in edtech either without considering their efficacy or without the application of standard teaching strategies for improved learning.

Joshua Kim looks to address these and similar issues in a recent Inside Higher Ed’s Technology and Learning Blog post. In Toward a Humanist Educational Technology?, Dr. Kim considers the possibility of educational technology being perceived as more conducive to, and aligned with, the learning and engagement goals of surrounding disciplines rather than an external structure. “Will EdTech be an enabler for a postsecondary agenda that originates outside of the concerns, values, and goals of educators and learners? An agenda that stresses efficiency and privileges those outcomes that can be easily quantified?” he asks readers. “Or will EdTech be a method to advance a vision of learning and teaching that insists on the primacy of relationships, people, and outcomes that may be less amenable to discrete measurement, sorting, and ranking?”

If we want academic librarians to benefit from ed tech then they need training, support, and the opportunity to make ed tech discoveries. Giving up on ed tech is not the answer. Learning how to use ed tech in smart ways is a better path.
Dr. Steven Bell, From the Bell Tower

And librarian Steven Bell continues to tackle edtech and its applications in, and impacts on, students, faculty, and librarians in his From the Bell Tower blog at Library Journal. In fact, we’ll leave you with this quote from Dr. Bell, taken from the post Educational Technology on Trial published just last month: “My verdict on ed tech is that we find ourselves early in the game. Educators need to continue to experiment and discover how to make the most of it. With so many new tech tools, many of them aimed at mobile computing, I advocate giving librarian-educators more opportunities to explore new teaching technology in order to discover better ways to apply ed tech to enhance the effectiveness of their teaching.”