Culture and technology

So often those who start using learning technologies (or creative technologies, or social technologies….) carry over into the new context assumptions, methods and processes that were appropriate in the old context but not in the new. However, it can take time for new ways of working to be discovered and to develop. By throwing off the old it is possible to explore affordances of the new technology that the old does not have and may release creativity and innovation.

Some examples:

Stage play to Film

When film was first invented, films were merely recordings of stage plays because that’s what people were used to. It took time – and the development of the technology – before film developed as a medium – simple things like zooming in, filming outside the theatre=studio, moving, short scenes – all those features of film that we are now very familiar with and have since gone on to influence another new medium – television – and on and on….

Manuscripts to print books

I have a book that was published in 1475. It still has the spaces at the beginning of each chapter for the initial letters to be painted in. Other features of early books which were carried over from manuscripts include the use of abbreviations (much easier when laboriously writing common words to abbreviate them) and the lack of spaces between words (to save precious vellum).

In many ways, I believe that multimedia hypertext should owe more to those original manuscripts than to the print book – which is a sort of cul-de-sac in the development of text…

Stagecoaches to trains

Early trains had carriages with side to side seating in, just like stagecoaches. It wasn’t for some time that the longitudinal layout with a corridor was invented. The stagecoach had to be filled with as much seating as possible in a small space to be economic – but the train is a bigger canvas.

Roman to Arabic numerals

Have you ever tried doing long division with Roman numerals?
It can’t be done. Long division could not be invented by the Romans, it needed a new system of number.

The use of technology is embedded in cultural practice, and the job of a learning technologist or e-learning champion is to challenge such practice.