What Education Technology Can Learn From Pixar’s Toy Story

This post is an excerpt from an article by William Jenkins (@tech_stories), fuelled by conversation we shared during a brief meeting last year, and subsequent shared interest and discussion about the place of technology in education:

In the early days of computer animation, some in the industry were focused more on exploring the art of what the technology was capable of than on the art of story telling.

When John Lasseter premiered The Brave Little Toaster at the 1987 International Animation Celebration, the audience was blown away as they had never seen anything like it before. This was because the film blended the very latest in computer animation technology with a great story, one which was full of character and captured the audience’s imagination.

In an interview, Lasseter highlighted that all good movies need to have a couple of key attributes; “You have to tell a compelling story that keeps people on the edge of their seat… [and to do that] you populate that story with really memorable and appealing characters.”.

There may be some lessons that we can learn from John Lasseter’s advice, and the experiences of the early computer animators, when looking at technology in education today.

Just like computer animation, education has changed a great deal over the years, it was not so long ago that technology was relatively uncommon in a lot of college departments but today every department relies on technological innovations to some extent.

Twenty-five years ago any talk of mobile access to library services involved a van driving round the area once a week. Today information is mobile in a different way as the entire contents of that old library van can now fit into your pocket.

The pace and extent of change can perhaps be best demonstrated by events like the BETT exhibition which, like Pixar, was in its infancy 25 years ago and has steadily grown each year. Today there are hundreds of technology companies exhibiting at the event. Some of these exhibitors might suggest that they can save the user a little time or solve a minor annoyance, others may be promising to be the next big thing in teaching and learning.

Whatever the claims the various suppliers make, there is certainly no shortage of technology companies queuing up to tell colleges how & why theirs is the latest “must have” tech toy.

In the full article, William takes an entertaining look at some of the personalities of the Toy Story characters, how they interact with the current toys in the playroom, and their very different reactions to the arrival of a new toy.

Want to read more? Go read the full article! Follow William on Twitter for more insightful content like this, and be sure to check out his recent report on Twitter use in FE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let\'s make sure you are human * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.