Reflections: 100 Year EdTech Project design summit

Last week, I was at the 100 Year EdTech Project Design Summit in Phoenix AZ, and I thought it might be worthwhile to post some raw reflections here, captured throughout the days, and unedited. At the event

“Leaders, educators, futurists, designers, students, lifelong learners, visionaries –  all will be invited to explore the last 50 years of technology’s impact on education, observe where we stand today, and imagine the future of education for generations to come.”

I appreciated the event starting with a student keynote panel. Some ideas I heard included attention to equity, excitement about the role of AI (i have lots and lots of thoughts on this, including how much space these conversations are taking and concern around the kinds of conversations it’s displacing), the inevitability of technology, the limits of our imagination (e.g., a comment made around how X years ago “my concern was about walking to the library and spending hours looking for an article, and so no i couldn’t have imagined the progress of tech”), emphasizing community, expanding access to tech (e.g., broadband for all), and sharing wealth and resources.

And because I’m obviously reflecting on these from my own perspective: These conversations are somewhat similar in Canada, but there’s a stark difference: The starting point there, or at least in the conversations I was part of, was typically decolonization, conciliation, indigenization, equity, and inclusion. The starting point here, or at least at this event, is technology in the service of similar ends… in other words, there’s a more pronounced technosolutionist stance at this event. Granted, that’s the focus of the event, which makes solutionism a difficult pattern of thought to escape/resist.

The slide below from Kiran Budhrani recentered some ideas around the broader issues, that don’t have to do with tech, but shape education nonetheless

This was punctuated by Bryan Alexander highlighting climate adaptation, and especially climate migrants and the impacts of that impending reality. I say reality because I’ve reached the conclusion that climate collapse is more likely than otherwise. I hope I am proven wrong.

A great question from a medical professional was the following: what do medical professionals need to know when patients (all of us) come to them with some basic knowledge of their ailments? The focus here was  on skills and knowledge relating to empathy and communication on the medical professional’s part, as well as the ethical issues around AI systems that will invariably support patients (e.g., what data were they trained on? how trustworthy are they, etc etc). I also think this area relates to patients navigating the flood of information/misinformation circulating online and their use of various technologies to make sense of their ongoing and new ailments. This reminds me of Dave Cormier’s book, which argues that we ought to be preparing people to navigate uncertainty at a time of information abundance.

Much of the event focused on small group discussions around approaches that might address certain challenges. I thought that framing the role of edtech in the future in terms of scenarios was grounding and valuable. The discussions in my group were rich, and there lots and lots of thoughts and ideas about our topic.

Finally, it was great to catch up with Philippos Savvides, fellow Cypriot at ASU, who partners with and supports edtech startups around the world. I also appreciated a short tour of EdPlus (ASU’s internal-focused OPM) and learning more about their work. Rather than outsourcing online program management, like so many other institutions, EdPlus focuses on innovating and scaling ASU offerings. I believe that  operations integral to the institution (and OPM is one of them) ought to stay within the institution and ought to be cultivated. I like what ASU is doing here. And through luck or foresight, it’s perhaps avoiding the entanglements of an OPM market in turbulence.


Update #1: The paper “Climate imaginaries as praxis,” showed up in my inbox a few hours after posting this, and I wish I had read it prior to the summit. Abstract reads: As communities around the world grapple with the impacts of climate change on the basic support systems of life, their future climate imaginaries both shape and are shaped by actions and material realities. This paper argues that the three globally dominant imaginaries of a climate changed future, which we call ‘business as usual’, ‘techno-fix’ and ‘apocalypse’ – fail to encourage actions that fundamentally challenge or transform the arrangements that underpin systemic injustices and extractive forms of life. And yet, to meet the challenges associated with food production, energy needs, and the destruction of ecosystems, people are coming together, not only to take transformative action, but in doing so, to create and nurture alternative imaginaries. This paper presents empirical findings about how communities in north and south India and south-east Australia are pre-figuring alternative futures, locally and in most cases in the absence of broader state support. An analysis of communities’ actions and reflections indicates that their praxes are altering their future imaginaries, and we consider how these local shifts might contribute to broader changes in climate imaginaries. At the heart of the emerging imaginaries are a set of transformations in the relational fabric within which communities are embedded and how they attend to those relations: relations within community, with the more-than-human, and with time.


Open for Public Comment: Minnesota’s Computer Science Strategic Plan


Open Access fees are exorbitant

1 Comment

  1. George, thank you for this summary of events and your reactions to them. I couldn’t be there in person, so I appreciate this snapshot.

    Also, thank you for the shout-out. I keep working on climate change futures for higher ed and getting little traction, so you made my day.

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