Saturday, March 02, 2019


I'm attending the OTAN Technology and Distance Learning Symposium for the first time in a few years. This year is the 30th anniversary of OTAN and they invited all past directors of OTAN for which I was also on a panel. You can see the program for the two days here. John Fleischman gave the keynote address about the history of technology in adult education, showing some of the successes and failures of ed tech along the road. Some of the failures, or devices that have fallen by the wayside, in my experience:

WebTV - I did an ESL class using these at a shipyard in San Diego in 1999. We supplied the WebTVs to the students, but they found it hard to use it to do school work because it had to take over the family TV and the rest of the family didn't appreciate that.

Zip Disks - Those things were not cheap, $20 each, and I had so much stuff stored on them, but then Zip drives went away and zip disks became expensive coasters.

Audio cassettes - The whole field of audio has progressed so fast: reel-to-reel players are gone, cassettes are gone, iPods are gone, wired earbuds will be gone pretty soon, so now all I need is my phone and my AirPods.

At the conference I've learned about all kinds of apps and possibilities. Kristi Reyes presented on 50 sites for teaching vocabulary. Farzana Cassim demonstrated a lot of different ways of creating augmented reality, including HP Reveal and Blippar, as well as AR books where things jump off the page and start moving around. All of this was pretty amazing to me! I will have to leave it to those more creative than me to figure out the best applications for adult literacy classes.

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