‘Learning technologies’ are not learning about a technology, rather they refer to any technology that can be used to help with teaching and learning and/or the learning experience.
“…Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that are used to support learning, teaching and assessment.”
Association for Learning Technology (ALT) www.alt.ac.uk
Today we generally associate learning technologies with anything to do with computers from full courses that can be delivered online to types of software that help with delivering teaching materials or help the learner access those materials.
However, we need to look at what ‘technology’ actually means, namely: the sum of any skills, methods and processes used to achieve objectives, be that production of a product, scientific investigation, recording or passing on of information. As such technologies used to help with teaching and learning existed well before the advent of computers or even the use of electricity. You only have to look at printed books and then before that manuscripts, the use of writing slates in classrooms, the engraving or painting on stone, wood, or any technology involving a medium and writing tool with or without some sort of ink, like cuniform text, hieroglyphics, Latin, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Arabic or even the Inca quipu. How technologies were used in the past is often speculative as we obviously only have what evidence has managed to survive. There’s no reason not to assume that the skill of drawing and writing in mud or sand was not used to pass on information from individual to individual.
From a point of view, it could even be argued that the legend of Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn (‘Thought’ and ‘Memory/Mind’) which flew over the world bringing him information were a learning technology and a reason why I’m using them as the Learning Technologies Zone logo.
Likewise, although we nowadays tend to associate technology with anything to do with electronics and more specifically computers. We should not dismiss out of hand any older technologies that can help with teaching and learning. It’s an approach I use when looking into finding ways to use available technologies to help with teaching or learning. Sometimes simpler methods work better. It’s a case of using old technologies in new ways, not just finding new technologies. Admittedly, though most of my work is very much focused on using computer technologies such as learning management systems (LMS’s like Moodle and Blackboard) and specific tools like H5P, quizzes and collaborative applications and tools.