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The Evolution of a Monster: 22+ Years of an Emerging Learning Technologies Course
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
The Evolution of Emerging Learning Technologies (and my "monster" syllabus):

Perhaps, like me, you like history. I have been teaching a version of my emerging learning technologies course for more than two decades now. Back then, it was called something like "Interactive Technologies for Learning and Collaboration." The first version was first co-taught at West Virginia University by Dr. W. Michael Reed and myself back in the fall of 1990. Mike passed away a few years ago (July 30, 2009) and that made me reflect on the evolution of the course that he and I first created. First of all, Mike was a fantastic friend and confidant and I miss him. In fact, I blogged on it at the time and many of his friends commented and sent me pictures to include in my blog post (if interested, see: In Memory of W. Michael Reed, Professor and Highest Quality Friend).

Mike Reed understood the theory behind my dissertation on computer prompts and keystroke mapping in writing as well as the potential impact. He met me for lunch and a chat the day I arrived in Morgantown, WV (a place I have only been back to twice in the past 20 years but I may be going through tomorrow night on my way to DC in helping move my son Alex who just got an internship at Global Zero). That was August 1989 and the pub we met at was Gibbies. I departed three years later in August 1992 for Indiana University. During my three years at West (by God) Virginia University (WVU), Mike and I had many a fine discussion about new directions for learning technology. We hit it off immediately and so we did a special issue of a journal on computers and writing (i.e., Reed, W. M., & Bonk, C. J. (1992). Computers and writing research: Extending agendas across ages. Computers in Human Behavior, 8(1), 1-7.) that later became a book (i.e., Reed, W. Michael, & Bonk, Curtis J. (Eds.) (1992). Computer Use in the Improvement of Writing. New York: Pergamon Press). When working on that project, Mike and I decided to create a course related to all the new learning technologies emerging in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To prepare for that course, we attended a special institute in San Diego on new technologies and educational aspects of artificial intelligence sponsored by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Yes, AERA actually sponsored a technology-intensive institute. Amazing! That institute was co-run by the famed Chris Dede (now at Harvard).

Since that time, this course has evolved into many formats. Below are links to more than a dozen syllabi from the course including the present one--which is what I am referring to as the "Monster Syllabus"--all 64 pages of it. In this post, I am helping people track the evolution of this monster. Everything in the current version of the course is a Weblink. There is nothing for my students to buy. Feel free to use it however you want.

While I am, of course, biased, I think that it is interesting to pan through the various versions of this course and reflect on all the learning technology changes of the past 2-3 decades. Open education back in the 1980s and 1990s was limited to things like audiotapes, television-based programming, sharing floppy disks, and correspondence courses. I know since I am a product of television and correspondence courses. Such learning outlets helped qualify me for graduate school and break me out of my quite boring life as an accountant/CPA and corporate controller.

Memories of such syllabi are wonderful moments of reflection on the students, co-instructors, friends, guest experts, etc., that I had the pleasure to interact with along the way as well as the articles, resources, and tasks used. Unfortunately, I have yet to locate the original version of the course. By reflecting back, I can now ask my students to track the history of this course over time. For instance, they might explore the topics, people, concepts, etc., that were popular in the 1990s, 2000s, and today. They might talk to their colleagues and friends about what they discovered or just do a personal reflection. I think you will see that social networking, MOOCs, virtual worlds, e-books, collaborative technologies like Ning, adventure learning, Webinars and videoconferencing, etc., are not just ideas and technologies that emerged in the past few years.

There are other reasons to post these old (or ancient as some might say in techie years) and newer syllabi. For instance, those who are ambitious might have a correspondence with scholars and researchers about about their articles from previous versions of the course. Others might interview learning technology scholars about their perceptions of changes in the field over time. I am hoping that some of my students do that this semester and into the future version of this monster course. Perhaps some of them will gather oral histories or accounts from experts as well as former students about how the field has changed.

I am telling my students that many questions can be asked. Among them, are there any topics that remain popular over the past two decades? How did the focus of this course change over time? Is this course more or less important today than it was back in the 1990s? Are the total number of pages any indicator of how the field has changed? If so, in what ways? I want them to compare the tasks from 1995 to those in 2001 or 2002 as well as 2010 or 2012. I sure wish I could find that syllabus from 1990. And I want them to look at the books, journals, new sources, online resources, etc. that now comprise this course and note how they have changed over time. Most of my students only want to read about technology research and news from the past year or two. Nevertheless, perhaps some of them might find intriguing articles from the 1990s that remain important today and should be added back to the current syllabus. Many were definitely hard to delete or let go of. Perhaps they will ask me questions about the tasks, activities, and articles that they found interesting and want to know more about. Finally, I am certain that, despite the 64 page monster syllabus, there will still be topics and technology tools that remains missing. Humm, what might they be?

Ok, time to explore those syllabi. I am not including all of them; especially when I have offered it twice in one year. I tried to select one sample syllabus from each year in which I taught the course. Enjoy. And feel free to send me notes on your observations and insights into the field of Emerging Learning Technologies or Interactive Technologies for Learning and Collaboration or this Open Educational World or whatever you want to call it. But be careful not to be sucked into this monster.


Sample Prior Syllabi for "Monster" Course (note: Soon this course will get an official designition as R678 Emerging Learning Technologies and stop being listed as a topical seminar for graduate students. Note also that I might teach this course as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in the spring of 2013 or some later date...note sure yet. If so, this monster will evolve some more.):

  1. Fall 2012, IU: R685 Emerging Learning Technologies (64 pages) 
  2. Spring 2012, IU: R685 The World is Open With Web Technology (54 pages)
  3. Fall 2011, IU: R685 The World is Open With Web Technology (52 pages)
  4. Fall 2010, IU: R685 The World is Open With Web Technology (43 pages)
  5. Fall 2009, IU: R685 The Web 2.0 and Participatory E-Learning (30 pages)
  6. Fall 2008, IU: R685 The Web 2.0 and Participatory E-Learning (30 pages)
  7. Fall 2007, IU: R685 The Web 2.0 and Participatory E-Learning (27 pages)
  8. Fall 2005, IU & IUPUI: P600/R685 Online Learning Pedagogy and Evaluation (18 pages)
  9. Fall 2004, IU & IUPUI: P600/R685 Online Learning Pedagogy and Evaluation (15 pages) (with Dr. Seung-hee Lee)
  10. Fall 2003, IU: P600/R685 Online Learning Pedagogy and Evaluation (12 pages)
  11. Fall 2002, IU: P600/R685 Interactive Tools for Learning and Collaboration (12 pages)
  12. Fall 2001, IU: P600/R685 Interactive Tools for Learning and Collaboration (13 pages)
  13. Fall 1999, IU: P600 Interactive Tools for Learning and Collaboration (10 pages)
  14. Fall 1997, IU:  P600 Interactive Tools for Learning and Collaboration (16 pages)
  15. Spring 1995, IU & IUPUI: P600/R680 Interactive Tools for a Learning Community (14 pages) (with Dr. Ken Hay)
  16. Fall 1990, WVU: Ed.P. 391 New Technologies in Education: From a Cognitive Perspective (with W. Michael Reed) (no syllabus available; but I found some notes that indicate that students read and discussed hypertext media for biology and English, problem solving software for at-risk youth, artificially intelligent math tutoring systems, interactive video for teaching classroom management principles, idea generators and collaborative tools for writing, ERIC on CD Rom, the use of the video camera as a research tool, computer programming for enhancing problem solving, Lego Logo, distance learning and communication, future trends, etc. This course was taught at West Virginia University in Allen Hall, Room 802B from 4-7 pm on Tuesday nights. I was in my second year of academic teaching. I am now in year 23 and still teaching that course. Of course, the title has changed and the content has evolved.)
More Fun: Here are nearly 60 technologies that we discussed and experimented with back in the fall of 1990 class. You might ponder the purpose of each one. Just what did they offer in terms of human cognition and learning? Do any still exist? And what were the research opportunities?

Fall 1990 New Technologies, Programs, and Activities
1.    Knowledge Navigator
2.    ERIC on CD Rom
3.    HOTS Program
4.    Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI)
5.    Kids writing at home and schools
6.    Writing to kids at alternate locations and distance learning
7.    Computers as part of magnet schools
8.    RealTime Writer
9.    Writing with text marked for changes to accept or not and comments
10.  Spanish grammar tutors
11.  Grammatik IV
12.  Appleworks
13.  Writer's Helper
14.  Word Perfect, Word Finder, Definitions Plus, Associated Press' Stylebook
15.  Knowledge Builder
16.  Computer Prompts for writing
17.  Keystroke Mapping
18.  Microworlds and Artificial Realities
19.  Games after schools for San Diego students
20.  Lego Logo and Wierd Creatures
21.  Logo and music composition
22.  Computer Programming
23.  Hypertext on Hypertext
24.  Intermedia lab at Brown University: From Linking to Learning
25.  Fractals and graphics explorations
26.  Digital Video Interactive (DVI) technology
27.  Interactive Video in chemistry
28.  Interactive Video in life and death moral dilemma
29.  The Alternate Reality Kit for physics (today)
30.  The Envisioning Machine for physics (today)
31.  Apple Multimedia presentation
32.  CD's and music analysis and composition
33.  Interactive video and medical training
34.  Interactive video and bird anatomy
35.  Hypercard and bird anatomy
36.  Idea processors
37.  Text analyzers
38.  Therapy Writing Programs
39.  The Rand Algebra Tutor
40.  ACT* geometry and programming tutor from Anderson at CMU
41.  Multimedia (Learning Constellations and children's theory building)
42.  New Video Media: Video, computer games, and music TV
43.  Designing Electronic Books
44.  Handy: Making a scene
45.  POSIT: Process Oriented Subtraction-Interface for Children
46.  PCMATH system
47.  Video camera for collecting, analyzing, and documenting data
48.  VideoNoter
49.  MicroProust and MicroSearch
50.  Debuggy
51.  Instructional Software Design Project (ISDP Project)
52.  Divergent and convergent computer software applications
53.  Database Management Skills
54.  Learning Tool (Kozma)
55.  Raiders of the Lost Arc and Young Sherlock Holmes for macrocontexts
56.  Smithtown (microeconomics)
57.  Workstations and Classrooms of the Future
58.  Construct a World, Hint and Hunt, Syllasearch (Resnick article)

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =  = = = = = = =
Is there a (course) monster growing under your bed too?


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Name: Curt Bonk
Home: Bloomington, Indiana, United States
About Me: I am a former accountant and CPA and a former educational psychologist. I am now Professor of IST at Indiana University and also adjunct in the School of Informatics. I founded and later sold SurveyShare. As president of CourseShare, LLC, I run around the world training instructors to teach online and give motivational talks about emerging learning technologies. I also write and edit books related to e-learning and blended learning. See bio and vita.

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