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  1. Albert Sangrà
    January 22, 2013 - 11:43 am

    Thanks for sharing these evoking “principles” with all of us, Tony! I think they will be very useful specially because lots of people are still doubting on the first ones … by trying to jump to have more than a dozen of “true” future statements, even if they didn’t understand the previous ones.

    I will think on it, but I must assume several will be similar to yours because you helped me many times …

  2. […] My seven ‘a-ha’ moments in the history of educational technology […]

  3. Doug Holton
    January 26, 2013 - 5:18 am

    Great post, my university still hasn’t learned your 1997 lesson – IT still drives all technology decisions.

    Some ‘aha’ moments I can think of relating to technology and education:

    I stumbled across the Mosaic browser in a mac lab in 1994, and it was neat, but I had a real ‘aha’ moment when I visited the whitehouse.gov page and saw that you write a letter right then and there and immediately submit it (CGI forms, Perl, etc.). The ‘aha’ realization was that the web was for more than just receiving information. You could send information and do interactive things, as well.
    I quickly realized we could use this feature for our student Amnesty International group since all we basically did was right letters. A web site could assist by providing a template for the letter already typed up for you. I signed up for webspace at Georgia Tech, learned HTML and Perl and CGI and a year later over 30,000 people had visited our site and AI-USA was contacting me to do their site (turned out though at the time, they still thought of the web as an electronic brochure – glad to see now they are using Drupal, which I use for most all my sites).

    1993 I had a human-computer interaction class and we were asked to create a mockup of a student registration system in Hypercard. We were supposed to just create a visual interface, but I couldn’t help but see that it wasn’t that hard to add interactivity, too, via things like buttons and Hypertalk. So I created an interactive demo of a registration system where students could add courses they were thinking about taking into a temporary ‘satchel’ (this was before Amazon ‘cart’). I got counted off for doing so, but I had the ‘aha’ realization that you could actually create useful things with programming, not just lame BASIC stuff that I had previously been exposed to.

    For another ‘aha’ moment, I encourage people to watch the first 5 minutes of the video ‘Minds of Our Own': http://www.learner.org/resources/series26.html
    In it, graduates of MIT & Harvard, still in cap & gown, are handed a battery, bulb, and wire. Many cannot make the bulb light, despite being trained in circuits and engineering. The ‘aha’ realization was that these were the top students in the country, at the top schools in the country, and the top professors in the country, but they still were not understanding something conceptually. We can longer make excuses and blame the students for a lack of learning, or blame the quality of the school. When the best students at the best schools are still having fundamental difficulties learning and understanding, we have to rethink how we teach and how we learn. Eric Mazur co-opted this topic years later, but there are hundreds of studies on physics education, science education, misconceptions, conceptual change, etc. from the 1980s and forward on this topic. The connection to technology – look at studies of microcomputer-based labs and animated computer simulations – within mere minutes students get the conceptual understanding they didn’t get after years of traditional instruction. For example, look at this animated circuit simulation: http://falstad.com/circuit

    • Tony Bates
      January 26, 2013 - 4:39 pm

      Thanks, Doug – great comment. Can’t agree more about the need to move from memorization to understanding, and from understanding to application. This is where the use of different media can help most.

  4. No. 1 aha moment: media are different
    January 27, 2013 - 8:57 am

    […] In a previous post, I listed the seven ‘aha’ moments that have been the most seminal ‘discoveries’ in my researching and working in educational technology. This is the first of seven posts that discusses why I believe these ‘discoveries’ to be important, and their implications specifically for online learning. […]

  5. Stephen Downes
    January 28, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    So what have you done lately?

    Just kidding – these seven moments are more than enough to make a career, particularly given the insight and experience you’ve brought to each.

    • Tony Bates
      January 30, 2013 - 11:18 am

      Thanks, Stephen – I really appreciate this comment from someone who’s contribution to the field I greatly admire..

  6. […] In a previous post, I listed the seven ‘aha’ moments that have been the most seminal ‘discoveries’ in my researching and working in educational technology. This is the second of seven posts that discuss why I believe these ‘discoveries’ to be important, and their implications specifically for online learning. (The first was: Media are different.) […]

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