The ELT technology hype cycle

You may have recently seen the Gartner hype cycle map for 2014, which shows how our expectations of different emerging technologies peaks, collapses, and finally levels out over time.


(click here to enlarge the image)

This made me wonder where the technology we use and discuss in ELT would fit on the hype cycle. Here are a few of my thoughts. Feel free to add your own.

From Innovation Trigger to Peak of Inflated Expectations: The technology here is often stuff that you’ve read about and heard discussed, but it may seem to you that no one has ever actually put it to use or could actually explain what it is. Tech that’s right at the peak is the stuff that you’ve been told will totally transform the world as you know it any day now … for good or maybe for evil … unless it turns out to be overhyped.

Examples in the ELT world: Adaptive learning algorithms, self-organized learning environments, mobile learning

On the way down from the Peak of Inflated Expectations: This is the home of technology that people are starting to grumble about. It is in use, and it is nice, but the world did not explode! Perhaps it’s not all it’s cracked up to be?

Examples in the ELT world: Gamification (already on Gartner’s map), blended learning, iPads in the classroom, textbooks in eBook form, online tutoring

In the Trough of Disillusionment: Here is where tech that has not lived up to the hype receives the worst of the backlash, with many disillusioned educators giving up on it entirely even though it does offer some value.

Examples in the ELT world: test generating software, classroom clickers, MOOCs

Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity: This is where we accept that the technology is what it is, with a clear grasp of its benefits and disadvantages, and get on with using it.

Examples in the ELT world: Smartboards, corpus research, YouTube clips, learning management systems, PowerPoint presentation slides

What else would you add to the list? Do you think I’ve put anything in the wrong place? Let me know!

Mike S. Boyle is one of the authors of English File Intermediate Plus,  American English File, Skillful, and other things. You can follow him on Twitter at @heyboyle.

Photo Credit: Geekr via Compfight cc

For another of Mike’s posts about language learning with Siri, go here. Or check out an interview about his own venture into building an ELT learning tool – EasyTweets.

7 thoughts on “The ELT technology hype cycle”

  1. Interesting post. I’m going to add my ‘four cents’ to the conversation on emergent technologies and add one thing: cryptocurrencies.

    There is a possibility for ELT bloggers and content writers to be paid in alternative currencies, but this hasn’t really been explored yet. So I guess we’re at the ‘Innovation Trigger’ stage.

    I’m particularly talking about second generation ‘social’ currencies such as Social Coin and Reddcoin. I’ve just written a post about this:

    Comments welcome!

    • @Paul, thanks for adding this to the list! Currency differences are definitely a part of the ELT writer’s life already. I’m in the US but receive payments converted from UK pounds. And those payments are themselves derived from sales made in Euros, pesos, reales, won, yen, and so many others. When the exchange rates shift in the right way, it’s like getting a pay raise! I’m sure it won’t be long before online currencies are added to the mix or even replace some of these.


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