|Photo by Eugene Triguba on Unsplash|
This has been the longest break between blog posts since I started this in 2008. I've been busy with other things but I also have to admit that it's hard to find a topic that inspires me just now. My retirement last year has meant that I no longer spend hours reading reports, articles and news items in the field and I am not in direct daily contact with educators and researchers to provide input and inspiration. I am still taking short assignments but have no intention of returning to full-time work. A major reason for retiring early was that I realised that I had lost my enthusiasm for the field. Educational technology is all about big business and is dominated by a few global corporations profiting from all the data they acquire from students and teachers alike. Although there are still havens of openness and collaboration, most of the internet is controlled by the big five corporations and driven by greed. I'm not sure I want to continue encouraging the use of technologies that I'm feeling increasingly uncomfortable about. This theme has been well documented by Audrey Watters who after many years of exposing the myths and bluffs of the educational technology industry finally decided to leave the field completely and start a new life (see her present blog which today is about fitness and nutrition instead of technology).
I find myself frozen in the headlights of the AI juggernaut and realise that I don't have the curiosity and energy to find out more and test new opportunities. I see many colleagues presenting optimistic ideas for how we can use AI to benefit education and how tools like ChatGPT are simply the modern equivalents of the advent of the pocket calculator or the iPhone. Yes, there are certainly benefits to using AI in education as long as we do so with caution and as long as we have control over how the data gathered is stored and used in the future. But I can't see that happening when there are such overwhelming commercial interests involved. I see enormous potential for misuse in the form of surveillance, control, automation of skilled work and an explosion of fake news and propaganda. Stop the world, I want to get off.
I found some consolation reading Tony Bates' latest post, What are the main issues facing digital learning in the future?, where he announces that he will be scaling down his work in educational technology and citing AI as the insurmountable barrier.
I could continue in the field and still contribute to the important but specific areas of online and digital learning, but AI is the deal breaker. I would have to work so hard to become expert in this area (and even then I may not have the mathematical skills), and it is now so critical to the future of digital learning that expertise and full understanding of AI and the issues around its use in post-secondary education and teaching are absolutely essential. I hope there are younger, brighter educators coming into the field who are willing to develop this area of expertise.
The challenge of learning about AI and its implications are one step too far for me too. AI is a complete game changer and if I am not willing to devote a lot of time to learning more about it, I don't think I can be relevant in the field anymore. So I'm unsure about the future of this blog which has been a part of my life for so long. I'll wait and see if I find new inspiration in the coming months and if not I can round it off with a review of what I have learned from the process.