Thursday, March 26, 2009

Six Technologies soon to affect education

Today's eSchool News had an interesting article regarding upcoming web 2.0 tools that will impact the educational community. The article breaks up the emerging technology in several categories, based on the type of technology and the timeframe for widespread integration.

I encourage you to read the entire article, and I plan to dedicate future entries to some of the individual tools discussed.

The first categories discussed include Collaborative Environments, like Moodle or Ning, and VoiceThread and Online Communication tools, including twitter, skype, and edmodo . It is believed that these tools will be widely used within the next year or two. I have seen a number of these tools used in education already, while others are still not being widely utilized because of concern regarding possible liability. It will be interesting to see how these tools become incorporated. In the spirit of encouraging 21st century skills, I believe these are valuable tools and with proper guidance should be utilized to enhance instruction.

The next categories, which are projected to be widely used in the next two to three years include mobile devices and cloud computing.

The article states...

"The combination of available applications and a device that [students] can carry provides an opportunity to introduce students to tools for study and time management that will help them later in life," says the report. "The implications for K-12 education are dramatic: the potential for mobile gaming and simulation, research aids, field work, and tools for learning of all kinds is there, awaiting development."

It is amazing what is available on a phone these days. Phones have become people's communication devices far beyond the simple telephone functionality. People can gather all of their email and messaging on a mobile device, manage their appointments (wouldn't it be great for all students to use a digital management system for assignments, etc). In addition, a smart phone or mobile device can be used to store and analyze data, research online, view photos and video, etc. Currently, we have many rules in place regarding the use of cell phones in school, whereby students are not allowed to have them on in at all during the school day (if even allowed to be carried). At some point, the mindset will have to change, but with proper guidelines. As a tool, including the available applications that are available, mobile phones and other wireless devices will become an incredible teaching and learning tool. What better way to teach, then by encouraging the technology that children are using in the real world.

The concept of cloud computing refers to applications that are hosted remotely including google documents and other collaborative writing tools in addition to a variety of other applications like YouTube where the content is hosted remotely.

The final categories (3 to 4 years out) include smart objects and The Personal Web. Smart objects include items that can be coded and tracked. The peronal web speaks of the notion of using tools to organize content on the web, rather than just view it. This will certainly provide the opportunity for students to learn more sophisticated means of researching, managing, and effecively utilizing information over time.

It is interesting to see how many of these ideas are already being utilized. At this point, they are being utilized sporadically and generally by educators who have dedicated the effort to learn these tools on their own. In time, utilization of these tools will be more common and integrated in the curriculum. Exciting stuff :)

No comments: