The personal computing revolution is still revolutionizing education, and it has done so at least since the origin of the first computers according to Moodlerooms’ E-Learn Magazine and his recent interviewee, 33-year industry veteran, Joe Ganci.
Following decades of educational technology initiatives, a “computerised learning system” initiative fell on the lap of researchers at the University of Illinois. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the PLATO initiative (Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations) helped Ganci to see the light in 1960.
Flash-forward to today, Ganci has been a lifelong advocate of “Edtech”, but a cautious thinker when it comes to its future. The bulk of his professional lessons are linked to TICCIT (Time-shared, Interactive, Computer-Controlled Information Television), PLATO’s precursor and also a product of the National Science Foundation.
He notes how in most fields, academia ensures a close relationship between education and cutting-edge research. Labs and classrooms are doors away from each other. Top scientists are awarded professorships. As soon as a new computer or networking model was available, their applications in teaching were readily evaluated. In today’s world, educational systems seem to be relegated. Their features often are what social media sites or broad commercial IT companies were kind enough to share unpatented.
Ganci attributes this crisis, among other things, to a quest for “user interface simplification”, in which elearning was caught, often resulting in a less effective practice. But the hopeful news is that the technology is out there. Instead of training scientists into vendor-specific systems, Ganci argues, it is the industry who should honor the intellectual challenges they face everyday, and convert this experience into approachable, yet challenging pieces of technology.