Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

My nominees for top #edtech innovators


Well if the Chronicle are gonna come up with 10 people I may as well nominate 10, right? (link to nominate).

My nominees are:

Rebecca J. Hogue & I for virtuallyconnecting.orghttp://www.

Mike Caulfield for #FedWiki and Wikity

Bonnie Stewart for her research on influence on Twitter

Laura Gogia for #tjc15

Jesse Stommel for #moocspeare and DigPedLab

Laura Czerniewicz for her critiques of open education

Amy Collier for the whole Not-yetness thing (added later: realize now she is working on that one w Jen Ross. Sorry, Jen; don’t know how I missed that)

Adeline Koh for her work on race and postcolonial humanities

Added later: Mimi Ito for work on connected learning

Who did you nominate?

I am happy to consider 2 more (currently between several ppl who deserve it too)


  1. Dave Cormier as the originater of the “MOOC” term and for his efforts for “Openness” in education and for his contributions to “Rhizomatic learning” model…

  2. Maha, you are really one of the most generous educators I’ve ever met- including me on this list of amazing people is both humbling and day-making all at the same time.

    I’d like to take a moment to expand on exactly what you and Rebecca have done with Virtually Connecting – you know, beyond the 1.5 lines up there :). Virtually Connecting is special for several reasons. The conceptualization of tech is fairly straightforward – you use video hangouts to allow distance participation in the context of academic conferences. However, despite the straightforwardness of application, the impact of VC is profound. First, you are increasing access to people who would not otherwise be able to join the conference. This benefits the person at a distance, but it also benefits the conference-goer, because it provides us with another perspective. Sometimes conferences can get so intense that you forget to think about the work in the context of the outside world. Participation in VC brings that connection right back. Furthermore, it challenges the proprietary boundaries of the conference and the knowledge constructed therein. VC makes for amplified and more rapid transmission of conference-based knowledge. It also generates formative feedback that folds seamlessly back into the conference. Finally, the straightforwardness of the tech involved is actually a good thing (the most simple designs are often the most elegant!) VC may represent a sustainable (maybe even scalable) model. What you have here is a beautiful example of “open.” Your tireless commitment to the project, which I know keeps you up at all hours of the night, is inspiring. Thank you.

    • Thanks Laura. If u ever nominate us for an award plz say this. And can we quote you later? Thanks my friend

      • Of course, Maha – I typed this out so that if anyone who has the capacity to nominate VC for anything needed something to say, they could cut and paste if they desired…so, to all you people with nominating capacity/captal, that was all said cut-pastable, you don’t even have to give me credit for it ;).

  3. My suggestion would be to think about people that are innovating in the practical, especially instructional designers. As much as I love ideas, research, models, and that kind of work, we tend to focus too much on that as “innovation” and not nearly enough on those that bring us innovative designs that we can use in a course. Or, many go to the flip side and focus solely on the technology software/hardware/designs as “innovation.” All of those are innovative, of course, and I would agree with their nominations. I always boycott these kind of things because they play into George Siemens’ critique of “rock star” by creating haves and have nots, insiders/outsiders, etc. And also because instructional designs rarely get much recognition and I’m a bitter jaded old ID πŸ™‚

    • Hi Matt,
      I think it’s funny (like, in a good, human way) that it appears that you made suggestions for the list while simultaneously boycotting it :). I like your idea of focusing on the designs – I see several up there. VC can be adapted, #TJC15 was immediately adopted by at least four courses (that I know of) and inspired the research for a master’s thesis, #FedWiki can be adapted…the connected learning framework is extremely “how-to”…so I think that list is fairly balanced with design concepts and theory. Although I’ve always considered George’s critique of lists as being from the perspective of someone who is consistently on the list, your critique is well taken; perhaps this post could be looked at as a reflection on what EdTech has meant for the author over the last year…and to stimulate self-reflection on what EdTech has meant to us. Just a thought :).

      • Hey Laura i think ur right about MY list being MY perspective on some people whose actions/ideas have been highlights of MY year. There are others who have made my year in diff ways but these are ones i thought should end up on the Chronicle list

    • I don’t know if it’s obvious… It probably is coz u know me… But this list is intentionally different from what I think the Chronicle would normally choose. All lists are exclusive but I made a point of creating a list of edtech ppl that were diverse. Many women, some non-US, some POCs. If lists and rock-stardom are inevitable, I reserve the right of ppl like myself and those on that list to be recognized for what we do and have done in the field πŸ™‚ And I sense that if more people nominate similarly we may stand a chance. Of course it excludes many great others. But if I didn’t nominate these ppl, isn’t it possible they will only make a regular list of mostly White American men who don’t really challenge the status quo?

  4. What a great list, Maha! It’s really exciting to see all this goodness going on! I nominated Alan Levine for AGORA. I have little faith in the Chronicle (but who knows β€” maybe it will surprise us this year!) … and it is fun just to give a shout-out to the good stuff we are seeing!

    • Oooh good one Laura! I wanted to nominate Alan for one but wasn’t following the AGORA thing closely enough while he was blogging about it. There are about 20 ppl i wanted to nominate who aren’t on that list. Mainly because their innovation, to me, is more generic, I didn’t know what to write specifically for the Chronicle. You were one of thek btw πŸ˜‰ am not just saying that coz u commented πŸ™‚

      • Ha ha, it is so true, Maha: that is why I just did one person! Alan immediately popped into my mind (he has been guiding my work ever since Feed2JS a gazillion years ago)… I would have spent hours making a longer list… and it was fun to read yours! I love the idea that we are infiltrating the Chronicle, which, except for ProfHacker, I regard as pretty much impervious to real discussion about learning and teaching! πŸ™‚

    • oohhh good one! Alan has a bunch of rockstar projects this year and he is literally a ROCK (like geology) star, and a rock (regular) star too πŸ™‚

  5. Yeah, I agree with that. I love all of the people/ideas on the list – my point is that there are many people out there that have stepped over the line from “can be adapted” to “are adapting it.” So not really balancing design concepts and theory, but balancing doing the ideas (and not just tech tools and tool usage) with concepts/theories. Ideas are important – we need people to look at race, influence, and so on. I would agree that everyone up there counts as an innovator. But lists like the Chronicle one get a lot of attention, influencing everything from hiring decisions to keynote speakers to allocation of funds. So if participating in them, we really should look beyond what was important for us as individuals and to what is needed for the field. At least, that is my take on them. And the field in general is too heavily weighted towards ideas, research, tech tools, hype, etc. I don’t want to weight it back in the other direction – just bring balance to the force (and not in an Anakin Skywalker kind of way).

    I would also add more than 10 if I came up with them – just because the Chronicle stops at 10 doesn’t mean we have to πŸ™‚

  6. What a great list! I concur with Laura Gibbs about adding Alan Levine. Also, Audrey Watters for her brilliant, often sobering, and really important critiques of EdTech.

    • Audrey was included last year, which was maybe the only person I agreed on. This year I decided to make my own list. Actually there is no reason Audrey couldn’t be included EVERY year, but I assumed not. I totally agree re Alan in general being an edtech innovator (he is one of my gteatest inspirers). I just wasn’t following the Agora project closely enough to write about it in the nomination

  7. Y’all are nice, but if they do not put Maha on this list, the whole concept is suspect (nominated you and Rebecca just now).

    Their categories were stinkers.

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