Information Age vs Generation Age Technologies for Learning

It is absolutely critical that everyone who cares about technology-mediated learning understand this point. There is a seismic shift in perspective necessary from pre-generative AI technologies to generative AI technologies. It requires changes in the way we think about everything – from pedagogy to supporting infrastructure. I’ve been writing and speaking about this for months now, and I’m not alone. Here’s how the CEO of Groq put it:

“Think about it this way: we were in an information age where you would make copies of data with high fidelity and you’d distribute it. That’s what the internet was. That’s what mobile was. But that’s also what the printing press was. They’re effectively the same type of technology, just at a different scale. And even though it was the same type of technology at a different scale, even that was hard for our intuitions to adapt to. But generative AI is not an information age technology – because you’re not making copies of something. You’re making something new in the moment. And the difference is when you’re making something new and in the moment you need *compute* to do that. It’s not about retrieving something from a hard drive, and doing a little bit of compute and sending it out. You’re creating it in response to a particular question.”

Information age paradigms like open educational resources (OER) were all about leveraging the power of the internet to make perfect copies of existing resources and distribute them at scale at close to zero cost. *But that’s not what generative AI is about.* It’s not about providing learners with access to cheap copies of pre-authored, static content – it’s about providing learners with access to *dynamic expertise* that they can dialog with, argue with, collaborate with, and converse with. Perhaps we should call it a “generation age” technology.


  • the internet eliminated time and place as barriers to education, and
  • generative AI eliminates access to expertise as a barrier to education.

Just as instructional designs had to be updated to account for all the changes in affordances of online learning, they will need to be dramatically updated again to account for the new affordances of generative AI.