Week 3 – ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ (George Santayana)




  1. jknox

    Interesting series of images here Charles – the Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest?

    The bridge is perhaps a useful symbol of the need to connect the past to the future, and for our interests in this course, perhaps the (somewhat dated) views of disembodied students, emancipated through their access to a ‘virtual’ university?

    The Santayana quote is certainly appropriate for the area of education technology, which seems to have embraced various ‘revolutions’ over the years, without much reflection on the past. I’m reminded of Martin Oliver’s work here, in particular the following (referring to the field of education technology):

    ‘the field seems to reinvent itself every few years, resulting in a proliferation of related terms: learning technology, educational technology, computer‐based learning, computer‐assisted learning, multimedia learning, communica­tion and information technology, information and communication technology, e‐Learning, online learning, blended learning, technology enhanced learning, and so on. Needless to say, this makes it hard to discover prior work by conventional searching, contributing to a sense of churn and a feeling of constant reinvention.’ (Oliver 2016, p36)

    There is something interesting here about how our choices of language cover over the past.

    Oliver, M. (2016). What is Technology? In N. Rushby and D.W. Surry The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology, 35-57. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118736494.ch3

  2. Brian Kerr

    Hi Charles

    Thank you for your beautiful pictures. I have been to Budapest many times, and I have an apartment just near Heroes Sq, so it holds a very special place in my heart.

    As a teacher of secondary history, your quotation had real poignancy for me, as it is something I often proclaim to my students, particularly when teaching certain topics that show humans making the same mistakes over (WW1 followed by WW2, African slavery in America followed by the Jim Crow era etc). It also brought me in mind of similar quotation from German philosopher Georg Hegel who said ‘We learn from history, that we do not learn from history’.
    I would echo what Jeremy has said about how this applies to digital education, in that it seems that there are we are perhaps repackaging the same thing and delivering it over and over again with a nothing more than a rebrand.

    I would also extend those comments to education on a wider scale. Every few years teachers are promised paradigm shifts in educational practice through new delivery methods, pedagogies and approaches to learning. But speaking to older colleagues, these only engender a feeling of déjà vu, and a ‘been there, done that’ mentality.

    But I wonder, does the ever-changing vernacular of digital education really matter? Surely, the rapidly evolving nature of technology is what is significant in making educational change. Where pedagogies and schools of thought can be cyclical, emerging technologies can only give an upward and onward trajectory to be truly transformative in education.

    1. Charles

      Hi Brian, Apologies for such a delay in replying. I used to live in Budapest (not far from Heroes’ Sq!) so I’m glad you liked the images. I trained as a secondary school teacher and recall my tutor telling us to ignore the fads as ‘they’re nothing but old wine in new bottles’. I think that digital education, however, is going to achieve the paradigm shift that flashy fads and ill thought-out ‘new’ methodologies can never hope to achieve. I don’t think it’s a question of adopting new technologies for the sake of it, but of identifying ways in which profound knowledge and skills (honed through many different teaching and learning experiences) can be used to inform and shape pedagogical innovation in the digital age.

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