Tom Woodward

It Could Be Beautiful: Aspirational vs Operational Learning Technology

November 12, 2021

12:00p.m. – 1:00p.m. (via Zoom)

Registration is required

Faculty and students have increasingly complex and specific technology needs that A great deal of energy and attention has been focused on using technology to automatically grade quizzes, to “capture” lectures, to make the most massive MOOC . . . to McDonaldize education. There is another path. Technology can humanize. It can augment, extend, and empower. There is real transformative power for learners when they interact with well-crafted experiences and build with well-designed tools. The ability to make useful products, to unite the abstract and concrete, to enable fluid and interactive presentation of data towards new and deeper understandings – this is where technology starts to matter. These are new possibilities that should not be ignored. We can rethink what we see as educational, consider how interaction shapes understanding, and take advantage of new ways to build what we really want. The work and worth of the academy can be more visible and powerful than ever before. We will examine the systemic support of this kind of work with special attention to Domain of One’s Own initiatives in colleges and universities across the country. The goal is technology options that have a low threshold ( easy to get started) but maintain a high ceiling (don’t limit user aspirations). That’s a difficult balance to strike. Through a myriad of examples, we’ll see what students and faculty can do in this kind of environment and how to encourage the kind of use that takes advantage of this unique architecture.

Tom Woodward currently works at Middlebury College as the Director of Learning Spaces and Technologies. He has spent the last 19 years working at the intersection of technology and learning. His experience spans the educational continuum with work in k12, college, and postgraduate education. His approach to technology is shaped by his background in history, Montessori, alternative education, and raising four children in these increasingly strange times.

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