Video: A Brief History of Learning Systems with Donald Clark

The Learning Hack Podcast

This video is 50:42 minutes in length.

The fascinating story of learntech from the stone age to now. ‘People imagine that technology’s a recent thing in learning, [but] it’s always been there.’ From its earliest beginnings in cave paintings to today’s AI-driven learning systems with interfaces influenced by consumer technology, Donald Clark tells the colourful story of learning technologies in conversation with John Helmer.

Donald has been an important part of that history himself. Growing up in the housing schemes of Livingston, Scotland, Donald studied Philosophy at Edinburgh University and Dartmouth College USA, where he first encountered artificial intelligence. Co-founder and CEO of Epic Group plc, which established itself as the leading elearning company in the UK, sold in 2005, he is now CEO of Wildfire, visiting professor to the University of Derby and sits on numerous boards including those of the University for Industry, City & Guilds, Cogbooks Ltd and, LearningPool.

03:36​ What were the roots of his fascination with learntech?
06:21​ The prehistory of learning technologies
09:21​ The computer age
14:10​ How did tech and theory affect design in the 90s?
17:23​ Dawn of the internet era
23:06​ The LMS arrives
25:59​ Learning goes mobile
29:07​ Consumer technology drives learner technology
31:34​ Designing for the learner (not the administrator!)
37:43​ Important drivers for the future of learning tech
43:46​ Is the future of learning tech convergent or divergent?

Mentioned in the discussion:
Electronic Performance Systems [book] by Gloria Gery
Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things [book] by Don Norman

Contact Donald
Twitter: @DonaldClark

Contact John Helmer
Twitter: @johnhelmer

Download the new white paper from Learning Pool written by John Helmer & Ben Betts – ‘Data & learning: A new common-sense approach’:


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