On the 1st November 2016 Dublin City University hosted ‘The next generation digital learning research symposium.’ I gave the keynote as part of the symposium. The title I was given ‘Research through the generations: reflecting on the past, present and future, was an interesting and challenging focus. In particular looking back at the emergence of a field is useful and can give an indication of where the field is going in the near future. This paper fleshes out the points made in the talk. Comments welcome!