open & distance learning

reflections and ideas on open and distance learning

Ed tech really matters: A reminder

A moment ago I followed a link in a Tweet by Stephen Harlow which he posted in response to a query regarding a learning repository:

The link points to an archived 2004 blog post by Alan Levine that includes a discussion between him and Bruce Landon. This caught my attention, not so much because the topic of the discussion is still very much relevant today, but more so because of Bruce Landon himself. This is Dr. Bruce Landon, a brilliant cognitive psychologist, researcher, college teacher and ed-tech aficionado who was also a close acquaintance of mine at the time of that post.

Back then both we worked in ed tech in neighboring institutions, he at Douglas College and I at the Justice Institute of BC. We collaborated on several ed tech projects, and also he was particularly devoted to increasing accessibility of educational web resources for the visually impaired. I’m sure some ETUG members of that time remember his presentations and challenges to all of us to do better in this area.

Shortly after this time I moved on to something else and, as can sometimes happen, we fell out of contact with one another, not by intent but rather by changing circumstances. The last time I talked to him was when he kindly provided me a reference for the doctoral program that I was just starting.

The link to this eleven-year-old blog post prompted me to look him up, and I learned from a local news item that some years ago Bruce suffered a serious stroke and has been undergoing a long period of rehabilitation. The article also linked to a YouTube video of a recent electronic speech by Bruce to students at Douglas College, which I struggled to view through blurred eyes:

As surprised and saddened as I was to stumble across this news via this strangely circuitous route, it was also humbling and inspiring to see how Bruce is now himself using the very types of technologies he advocated for in his ed tech work. It just reminds me that in spite of the many frustrations we run into, ed tech work really does matter – especially with a reminder that we need to remember accessibility in our work. Thanks Bruce for your inspiration, and I’ll be dropping by soon to reconnect!

2 Comments

  1. I might just cry after seeing that video. What sheer bravery of spirit.

    I had a similar reaction following Stephens link to my ancient blog post, not surprised at all to see the thoughtful reply by Bruce. I met him on a visit to Douglas in 1996 and followed his work as intently as people like Stephen Downes. Bruce was/is a visionary thinker, and I followed the work he and Scott Leslie did in EduTools, a framework at the time (late 1990s) to evaluate LMSes but not in the feature checklist way common now.
    I heard of Bruce’s stroke but lost contact too. I could not be happier to see this video. When you do see him, please pass on my warmest greetings and appreciation (and my email).
    This net thing, it matters in ways that continue to suprise and inspire me. Thanks, Irwin!

    • Thanks Alan, and I’ll certainly pass your thoughts (and email!) along to Bruce. And I agree–the EduTools project was a rich and thoughtful analysis of LMSes with input from many users and stakeholders.

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