It is true that I am getting old. The truth is that this reality includes a growing list of limitations. There are however also some nice benefits. I have freedom, time and resources that were simply not available to me earlier in my life. At present, I don’t think it would be fair to complain about my personal combination of disadvantages and advantages. The advantages are up on the disadvantages. However, there is one issue I do have with my age. I do not appreciate my breadth of knowledge being held against me. In the academic field, the priority that some place on recency can be annoying. My reference to “dated” ideas and research are not necessarily a sign that I am unaware of new ideas. Consider that it is very possible I am able to draw on dated ideas and research and more current work and I may consider the older work of higher quality. If you are ignorant of this original work, how could you make a personal decision that the work you prefer to promote is superior?
I have noticed this tendency before, but I started attending to the issue more carefully for a concrete reason. I know this will take me off track for a paragraph, but bear with me. Amazon currently offers two different editions of Cindy and my book – Integrating technology for meaningful learning – the 5th edition (in paper) and the Kindle edition. The difference in publication dates is probably close to 10 years, but both are listed. The Kindle edition sells for a fraction of the cost of the paper edition. I have read critical reviews for the paper version that comment on the lack of availability of promised accompanying resources and the aging reference list. Both issues are beyond my control, but I am bothered that those making a purchase decision may think the Kindle version is the ebook version of the paper version. The ebook version presently has no reader comments because it is only a few days old. This is really a complaint I direct at Amazon and Cengage because I experience the consequences.
I have no reason to discount the criticisms, but as you might expect from my initial comments I wonder about the comments regarding the reference list. There is never enough information to know which references were considered dated. I would list some myself and others I would defend as the best available. At this point in my career, selling books is mostly an interesting hobby. I know I am making decisions that would not be regarded as a sound business decision. I am more interested in challenging the traditional textbook approach as a way to explore what might be best as learning resources than generating the income we used to receive. This is one of those positive age things – the income becomes more a way of keeping score or judging interest at this point.
Back to my original topic. Here are a couple of examples that likely only make sense to those with a background in education. More importantly, the examples may make no sense even to those with this background and to these individuals I would suggest you take the time to explore before you assume you know what is going on. A couple of “hot topics” in education are individualization to address learning speed and coding. I write about both topics. Both of these topics are actually experiencing a rebirth. The coding/computational thinking thing is nearly identical to the LOGO programming activities of 15 or so years ago. A key focus of individualization revisits the mastery learning interest of the 1970s. The newer technology of the day offers great opportunities for present implementations, but the research from the earlier implementations was far superior in terms of quality and quantity. I find it astounding that few are capable of making the connections and positions taken suffer as a consequence. Why forge ahead ignorant of what is already known? Why repeat mistakes when productive approaches have been identified? Why assume that the interesting ideas of today have not been imagined before and at a time when these ideas were investigated with greater rigor?
I assume you can anticipate how I would answer these questions.