Dr Michael Henderson

Keynote: The wicked problem of educational technology

Educational technology is a 'wicked problem'. The problem is not the technology, which is a finite and ultimately manageable system. Instead, the 'wicked problem' lies in the sheer complexity of education, not least the diversity of teachers, teaching, students, learning, policy and schools. A wicked problem is one that is essentially unresolvable; which helps to explain why educational technology innovations cannot be simply replicated, nor outcomes guaranteed. This keynote will consider the value of thinking about our work as wicked problems. He will reflect on the papers and discussions at the conference over the last few days, and critically considering his own research from virtual worlds to social media. 

Educational technology research, policy and initiatives are ultimately undermined unless we celebrate the wicked nature of the problem. By doing so we can more boldly engage with the growing criticisms of the impact of technology in schools and higher education. In celebrating such complexity we also find potential new ways to tackle the problem, explain our goals and measure our success. One such approach is the pragmatic optimism of design thinking. 

Dr Michael Henderson spends most of his time being enjoyably frustrated with the 'wicked problem' of educational technology integration. He argues the problem is not the technology, which is a finite and ultimately manageable system. Instead, the 'wicked problem' lies in the sheer complexity of education, not least the diversity of teachers, teaching, students, learning, policy and schools. A wicked problem is one that is essentially unresolvable; which helps to explain why educational technology innovations cannot be simply replicated, nor outcomes guaranteed. There is nothing simple about educational technology. However, Michael suggests we can borrow from design thinking to simultaneously engage in critical, optimistic and pragmatic future pathways.

Michael is a Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. He researches in the field of eLearning and teaches digital instructional design and critical thinking around edtech to pre-service teachers and MEd students. Over the past decade he has provided expert advice to government and other education providers in the field of eLearning. Most notably, in April this year he co-authored the ACCE response to public consultation for “Enhancing Online Safety for Children”. This paper is available from the ACCE website. Michael's research ranges from early childhood to tertiary settings, and has included virtual learning environments, virtual worlds, social media including the risks and ethics of teaching with social network sites, the role of data in schools, and technology based feedback. 

Prior to joining Monash University he spent 10 years teaching in regional and metropolitan schools in both Australia and the United Kingdom in the 90’s he had implemented innovative 1:1 student and staff laptop programs, Interactive Whiteboards, and had built his own online learning platforms. However, despite substantial funding for these initiatives he was struck by the unpredictable outcomes, particularly in relation to staff integration of technology.

 

Michael is a lead editor for the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, a proud member of the Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria (DLTV) Management Committee and co-editor of their journal. Michael is a key leader of the ‘Learning with New Media Research Group’, which provides leadership in rigorous empirical research into teaching and learning and the roles of technologies.

More details can be found on his profile at www.eduweb.com.au and he can be contacted by email michael.henderson@monash.edu or via twitter @mjhenderson.