Jul 18, 2011

Technology Trends Review

As high school students graduate to the halls of higher education, the experiences that they encounter differ from their secondary school learning due to the use of technologies that have emerged within the last five years. Through studies conducted at various institutes of higher education and through trends identified in the marketplace, we can capture a glimpse of the experiences or which high school students need to prepare as head to college. As teachers and library media specialists, we need to address these student needs by becoming apprised of the shift that has occurred in our institutes of higher learning. This includes an understanding of the emerging technology trends and their impact on education, the need for proper teacher training, and the impact on the student.


The Horizon Report (2006 – 2011), has consistently indicated over the last six years that there are key emerging trends that will have an impact on education. Those trends include mobile computing, use of e-books, cloud computing, and user created content. Other technologies and trends have been indicated as those to watch, however the aforementioned are consistently indicated in each report and therefore will show the greatest disruption to the traditional learning process and appear to be those that will be most widespread and beneficial to students in the years to come.

Mobile technology in the form of cell phones, tablets, and other handheld devices have emerged as the platform of choice for students wishing to access class material on the go. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology (2010) indicates that “the mobile web will be bigger than desktop internet use by 2015” (p. 59). If this is true, then traditional use of desktop computers to complete research, data gathering, and student work will evolve to a more mobile format that can increase student production and make learning opportunities more accessible.

Digital resources in the form of e-books and e-readers have shown an increase in popularity since they were first indicated as a trend in the 2010 horizon report (The Horizon Report, 2011, p. 41). The impact that this technology may have on education is that e-books can make study materials, research, and textbooks available in a more convenient and accessible format. Students obviously will benefit from the lighter load that comes in their backpacks, but beyond this, “reader technology has developed to the point that graphs, illustrations, videos, and interactive elements can easily be included, and many enable bookmarking, annotation, commentary, dictionary lookup, and other useful functions” (The Horizon Report, 2011, p. 45). Features such as these provide a richer learning experience, while providing accessibility functions to aid a variety of leveled learners.

Cloud computing provides the ability of the user to securely store and access content remotely. Specifically, “cloud-based applications do not run on a single computer; instead they are spread over a distributed cluster, using storage space and computing resources fro many available machines as needed” (The Horizon Report, 2009, p. 11). The impact that this may have on education is that information can be stored and retrieved from off site, rather than take up space on large site based servers. As well, teachers and students can create content ‘in the cloud’ so that they can create collaborative materials and experiences.

User-created content, such as videos, podcasts, blogs, and wikis, provides a medium through which students can collaborate, create, publish, and share work. A practice that has been trending since 2007 and often referred to as the Personal Web (The Horizon Report, 2009), the ability of students to create their own content has exploded with the emergence of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger, just to mention a few.

The growth of trends such as those mentioned above indicates that learning is becoming more reachable and more mobile than ever. The Morgan Stanley Mobile Internet Report (2009) indicates that use of mobile technology will move at a faster pace than acceptance of desktop computing and internet use of the early 1990s (p. 44). A great indicator of this is the increasing number of students who are utilizing mobile devices. The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology (2010) indicated that in 2009, “51.2% of students owned an internet capable device” while in 2010, that number had jumped to 62.7% (p. 45). As well, students were using these devices to access or create wikis, use social networking sites in their courses, collaborate with other students, and access web-based productivity applications (The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010, P. 75). In addition to accessibility, students are indicating a desire to use more mobile technologies and expect their instructors to be knowledgeable in their use as well (The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010, p. 87).

The implications of these studies indicate that as schools, we need to accept that a shift is occurring in education and we need to meet the needs of our students head on. Much of the traditional information and content in our classes can be accessed wirelessly or across the internet and used in ways that instill collaboration and critical thinking. The effect is that students will be better prepared for careers that employ these technologies. As secondary teachers, preparing high school students for college courses utilizing these technologies, increases their chances even more. Student belief in the integration of technology by their teachers is evident in these studies. Half of students in the ECAR study (2010) commented that “the use of IT in courses improves their learning, and half also agreed or strongly agreed that by the time they graduated, the IT they have used in courses will have adequately prepared them for the workplace” (p. 91). Others have indicated that they desire more technology in their classes as well as tech-savvy instructors. Students are often expected to use technology in projects for classes, but are disappointed to see that their instructors cannot do the same. One student commented:

When I see seasoned professionals, often with doctoral degrees, fumbling around just to copy and paste files, I feel at a loss...If the experts in their fields were able to train their students in the technologies that are dominating their professional fields…students would have better chances for employment” (The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010, p. 88).

These statements indicate that some teachers are not fully behind integration of technology. To assist the student in becoming successful in using technologies, teachers need to be as prepared as their students.

Given the information put forth by these studies, there are many schools moving toward greater use of technology in the classroom. However, there are obstacles that schools face in moving toward technology integration. The first obstacle to overcome is cost. However, one must understand that the information provided here also indicates that the mobility of apps and devices creates a scenario in which students bring their own devices and utilize open source or free software and applications.

As schools progress toward the goal of providing innovative technologies to students, the role of the school will be to provide an infrastructure to support the wireless capabilities used by mobile devices. Once this is complete, the next obstacle to overcome is to provide adequate training to teachers and students so that they are comfortable with use and integration of these apps in the curriculum. This will require an initiative on the part of the learning community which will spearhead efforts to provide such training. Most likely, library media specialists or technology integration specialists will be called upon to provide training to teachers. Teachers will then become specialists as they begin to teach students to utilize mobile technologies in the classroom. However the process unfolds, the benefit will be when students exit our schools prepared for the utilization of technology that is expected by schools of higher education. But faculty members need to understand that this is not a one shot effort. Making a shift of this magnitude will require an ongoing process in which school officials, trainers and teachers work toward integration, while paying close attention to industry predictors of technology use. As changes occur, schools need to be able to adapt. Asking schools to adapt to technology was a monumental task 20 years ago. But adaptation to technology today will prove to be a much easier transition as price points and user friendly options become available.





References

Morgan Stanley (2009). The mobile internet report. Retrieved from

http://www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/Mobile_Internet_R

eport_Key_Themes_Final.pdf

The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology (2010).

Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE.

The Horizon Report (2006 ed.) (2006). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

The Horizon Report (2007 ed.) (2007). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

The Horizon Report (2008 ed.) (2008). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

The Horizon Report (2009 ed.) (2009). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

The Horizon Report (2010 ed.) (2010). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.

The Horizon Report (2011 ed.) (2011). Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium.







Visit these sites for more information regarding emerging trends in technology.

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