Current and emerging technologies are enabling learning and teaching to happen in new and increasingly personalised ways. Reflecting 21st Century education themes of inquiry and collaboration they facilitate idea sharing and learning, offering new ways to engage learners in an increasing digital learning landscape.
How technology enables teachers and librarians to re-imagine the education landscape.
The Pew Internet and American life project studies and reports on the “impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life”. These reports focus on various different aspects of life. A recent report: The future of the internet; expert survey results , (Lee Rainey, 2010) published the results of a survey of 895 experts. Part of the report looks back at predictions made in the previous survey of experts undertaken in 2005. Interestingly the only prediction from 2005 that has so far failed to eventuate is the expectation that “classroom structures and lessons would change”
Emerging technologies encourage us to think not: “how do we teach about these technologies?” or even “how can we incorporate these technologies into our current model?” But rather -” How do these new and emerging technologies allow us as educators to completely re-imagine the education landscape?” In a totally wireless environment, where every student has a mobile device that can access all manner of media in a range of formats, does the current model of teacher-student interaction conducted within a classroom remain valid?
Built Pedagogy is defined as “architectural embodiments of educational philosophies ” (Monahan, 2002). Our learning environments are constructed to enable a specific teaching / learning paradigm. The technology structures and the learning spaces in which students are educated “are infused with the values and ideologies of their creation”. (Monahan, 2005). If, given all the currently available technological devices and capabilities, we could start from green fields and develop an education model whose unfettered, primary goal is to facilitate students to learn, what might this model look like? How would the built environment enable the philosophical goals?
The 2011 Horizon report has been released.
The continuous development of technological tools is increasing in speed. The 2010 Horizon Report (Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium) lists the following technologies as likely to have the most impact on education in the next five years:
We as educators must engage with the technology to both understand its implications and possibilities with regards to our role as learning facilitators but also to be part of the process that shapes new technology so that we are involved in building the future of education, informing the design of applications to suit our goals of facilitating student learning.
Cloud computing and collaborative computing are already being used in schools. Large-scale collaborative projects such as the Flat classroom projects are linking students in different countries so they can work together on projects. Many schools are using cloud computing - taking advantage of the economic savings that can be made. Schools are starting to utilise applications that are hosted “out there on the internet” rather than paying licensing fees to have proprietary software loaded on individual desktop machines. There are also cloud-based networks for teachers such as Teachertube.
Augmented reality is starting to find its way into education in various disciplines. One project built at the Harvard Graduate School of Education created a learning experience using augmented reality with ” real world activities with a superimposed virtual simulation - as an instructional tool both to build middle-schoolers’ math and language arts skills and to spark excitement about learning”. Using augmented reality in learning situations increases student engagement with their learning.
The use of mobile devices, which are equipped with wireless, GPS, cameras etc , will enable tremendous opportunities for taking learning out of the classroom and into the world.
Game Based Learning is rapidly developing as the lucrative commercial gaming industry continues to develop platforms and applications that are being adapted for the education sphere. There are games with content embedded in games, multi-player online games where students work collaboratively with students elsewhere using maths to solve problems and progress the game.
There are learning based games in a variety of disciplines and even a new school: Quest 2 Learn in New York City, where teachers create learning experiences based on “the design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like experiences”. The school uses games as ” a powerful pedagogical model. Games work as rule-based learning systems, creating worlds in which players actively participate, use strategic thinking to make choices, solve complex problems, seek content knowledge, receive constant feedback, and consider the point of view of others.”
Flexible Display technology is currently being developed for commercial and military applications. However there are already indications of education-based possibilities for flexible displays as well: including adapting them into laboratory equipment or in printed textbooks.
If we are engaged with new technologies we can be part of the conversation and influence the development of emerging technologies that will suit our educative purposes rather than working to adapt applications created for other spheres to our needs.
image by Ars electronica
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