Is Ed-Tech Killing this Conference?

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

Where exactly does innovation take place? Who defines what innovation is? Faculty? Administrators? Entrepreneurs? The answers to these questions are deeply contested in today’s ed-tech marketplace. This session brings into discussion a diverse group of stakeholders--faculty members, instructional designers, vendors, and conference organizers--struggling with these questions.


Jeremy Dean, Director of Education, Hypothesis Jeremy was previously the Director of Education at Genius where he facilitated educational applications of their interactive archive of literary and historical texts. Jeremy is a scholar-educator with fifteen years of experience teaching at both the college and high school levels. He received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin where he worked as a Project Leader in the Digital Writing and Research Lab for four years developing units and lesson plans around a variety of digital tools. He also worked as a Program Coordinator at the University of Texas Humanities Institute, overseeing their education initiatives.
Adam Croom is a faculty member in the Strategic Communication area of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Croom also serves the university in a separate capacity as the Director of the Office of Digital Learning. Croom completed his Masters at Pepperdine University where he studied education and learning technologies. His research focused on networked approaches to online learning in public relations design courses.
Taylor Kendal is an educator, writer, designer, improviser, community developer, techno-philosopher and the Chief Program Officer at Learning Economy. His work with the U.S. Dept. of Education, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Library of Congress, MSU Denver, and CU Denver has led him to a lifelong love for education, innovation, design, and the cultivation of decentralized, future-focused networks. He holds an MA in Information Learning Technologies from CU Denver and has 20 years of experience in project/event management, digital/social strategy, instructional/LX design, culture-crafting, improvising, and systems-level hacking of post-secondary education. Taylor is currently focused on Web 3.0, digital ethics, bridging cultures of entrepreneurship and education, infusing agility and intellectual honesty into bureaucracy, learning from/traveling to distant lands (virtually and physically), exploring the future of education on blockchains, and occasionally writing to help make sense of it all. | @taykendesign |

Extended Abstract

Where exactly does innovation take place? Who defines what innovation is? Faculty? Administrators? Entrepreneurs? The answers to these questions are deeply contested in today’s ed-tech marketplace as Silicon Valley start-ups boast that they have all the solutions to the problems of education and academic technologists and faculty members are increasingly skeptical of the role of technology, and especially the business of technology, in the academy.  

Can higher education professionals trust commercial enterprises with developing innovative products for education? How do academic administrators and technologists place checks on the power of vendors? Can the Ivory Tower innovate on its own without the Valley? How can institutions of higher ed work together with technology companies to build tools that clearly benefit teaching and learning and aren’t drive just by the bottom line?

This session brings together a diverse group of stakeholders struggling with these questions. They are faculty members, instructional designers, academic technologists, vendors, and conference organizers. Each will present a single slide outlining their perspective on the problem and possibilities of education technology. The panelists will then facilitate discussion with session attendees, soliciting audience perspectives and working as a group to imagine solutions.

The aim of this conversation is to move beyond easy celebrations and critiques of education technology towards a working model for how higher ed and tech professionals can authentically collaborate in the innovation of new teaching and learning technologies. Our plan is to collect both practical and theoretical ideas shared and developed in the session and distribute more widely within the OLC community and beyond.