Where are we headed with technology in education?

Technology has never more rapidly evolved than in the last 100 years but will it keep changing at such a drastic rate?  Will we always feel a step behind in the classroom because it takes longer for technology to logistically reach the institute, and by the time it does, it is almost obsolete?  There has been some steady progressions of technology addressed in the Horizon Reports each year, however, I find that they do not cover everything for everyone and we are so behind in most instances.  I think that educators are only just catching up to the fact that technology allows for the educator to take a step back, loosen control and give more over to students, so that they can direct their own learning a bit more.

[youtube https://youtu.be/nA1Aqp0sPQo]

I get a little overwhelmed by the videos out there like the one above as it highlights just how real the impact of technology on the world is.  When I was in Year 6, I distinctly remember a class discussion where we pondered the future of education and speculated that it might include computers as teachers.  Well that has not exactly become reality, or has it? Whilst I do not believe we are headed towards completely transformed educational institutes, governed by androids who are the teachers and various forms of artificial intelligence, I do think that pedagogy and practice is changing.  Have a look at the Gartner Hype Cycle 2014 for emerging technologies and education below.

That’s a pretty real picture of what technology is going to be at the forefront of society in coming years.  If we look carefully at the cycle above, it will be in the next 5-10 years that technology explodes again into a world of more 3D printing, robotics, and wearable technologies.  However, will they reach the classroom?  If so, how and for what purpose and under what infrastructure, funding or initiatives?  Some provocation in such images, but I guess its a waiting game too.


Going Mobile with TEC-VARIETY

I ran a workshop for the second time a few days ago that addressed mobile technology in education.  The iPad was one of the main focuses for the workshop and we explored some of the great apps available that could be effectively integrated into education to enhance teaching and learning experiences.  My presentation is shared below:  (Embed option kept showing error so apologies for link)


Today as I was browsing the valuable resources once again that are presented on Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success I contemplated the impact that mobile devices can have on applying these models in teaching.  During discussion in my workshop the other day, I brought up the fact that mobile devices are being used for reading, responding, gaming, social networking, collaborating, recording and so much more.  I emphasised the value specifically of apps and of social networking being embraced as a way of further engaging students who seem to be engaging less and less in online discussion forums.  So how do these models look when considered in the light of mobile devices?


Tone/Climate: Psych safety, comfort, belonging – mobile devices are personal, they belong to the individual using it, whether that be permanent or temporary, and that allows them to feel psychology safe in this sphere of their learning experience.

Encouragement: Feedback, responsive, supports – there are so many ways for mobile devices to be used for gaining feedback.  Use on online survey tool that students can access on their device, they optimise perfectly in most instances, and SMS polling is becoming more readily available as well.  Students can also utilise one of many Q and A websites online to ask questions of experts and of course use Facebook and Twitter to crowd source.

Curiosity: Fun, fantasy, control – mobile devices breed curiosity!!  Gaming, and virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft, are accessible through your device, what more could you want?  Whilst virtual worlds may not always be accessible on an iPhone or iPad the MacBook/PC laptop is a mobile/portable device as well don’t forget.  Hand a student a device and watch what they do? See how they teach themselves to do things you had never imagined could be done.

Variety: Novelty, intrigue, unknowns – with millions of apps available right in the palm of your hand, what more variety could you possibly imagine?  Each day new apps produce novel ways of presenting information and providing interactive opportunities for their users.  Brainstorming (brainstorming apps) and mind mapping (mind mapping apps) on the fly is possible with a mobile device, listening to lecture recordings whilst on the bus is possible… the possibilities continue to grow.  Get your students to create a mind map on their device, save as an image or PDF and upload to course.

Autonomy: Choice, flexibility, opportunities – students have options and could interact with new information in a variety of different mediums, why not give them those options?  The great thing about mobile devices is that they present the tools to be more flexible and give those choices to allow autonomous, student-centred learning.  How will you embrace that?

Relevance: Meaningful, authentic, interesting – for me this goes back to the tone and climate aspect in that this device is personal and in so being it allows a student to find their own personal meaning and value in the online environments they may embrace the space more.  If the other aspects of this model are addressed and students are given options, choices, feedback, fun and support they will be interested.  Mobile devices couldn’t be more relevant in learning really because students are probably doing it informally more hours of the day than anything else in their life.

Interactive: Collaborative, team-based, community – there are some great apps out there for collaborating in real-time such as GoogleDocs, Dropbox, Mindmeister, Educreations, Campfire and so many more.  Build community and collaboration online, it can operate anywhere, anytime.

Engagement: Effort, involvement, excitement – I think the beauty of online learning is that the normally quiet person in class can have a voice and participate in ways they may never have before.  When they are using a personal device they are even more familiar with and comfortable with, who knows what they might do.  I think now of those on the Autism spectrum and the barriers they face to connect and engage with learning sometimes.  However, there is research being conducted on the engagement of these students with mobile devices and the increase in their social and educational outcomes.  Online learning and mobile devices can engage those hard to reach students, involve them in new ways.

Tension: Challenge, dissonance, controversy – this one was at first hard for me to see how it could be applied to mobile devices and the capabilities they provide but then I thought… hang on, I play Words With Friends all day… that gets very tense 🙂  I’m competitive by nature and getting involved in games is challenging, or even just testing myself on a game of Sudoku as well.  Use games in your teaching, create tension and challenge them.  It does get a part of their brain activated that is useful in other areas of learning such as problem solving.

Yields: Goal driven, products, success, ownership – I believe these are covered.  The products that students can produce on a mobile device is insane.  Students could become their own proliferate producers of videos, podcasts and so much more.  With the blog apps that are available, why not get them to produce a blog, engaging with it during lectures would be easy and they could reflect whilst they learn.  The student-centred nature of mobile devices gives students a greater sense of ownership over their learning and I personally find it very engaging and rewarding.

These are my musings and it is in no way thoroughly researched but a collection of thoughts I’ve had as I read and reflect on stimulus materials.  I welcome any thoughts and ideas from others.

Going Mobile

Today I presented and facilitated a workshop on mobile devices and mobile technology.  Mobile technology is an asset in education but must be considered carefully.  I presented thoughts and ideas on why educators should use mobile devices in the following presentation.  The initial conversation in the first 10 minutes of the workshop was very lively and those in attendance shared their thoughts on technology in education.  Issues were addressed like the distraction that technology presents but the benefits were also noted.

We also explored some iPad apps in this session and some interesting conversation developed out of that.  One point that was raised was that the many millions of apps that people are downloading don’t come with much instructional guidelines about how to use the app.  All apps have some sort of list of features, however, how to use the apps is not always explicitly explained.  One participant raised the point that perhaps very short and simple video could be made on how to use the app and get started.  I would definitely like to explore that idea further!

To take the idea and process further when looking at using mobile devices and apps in education, perhaps a database of instances in which an app has been used and how would be very valuable to academics pursuing the integration of such into their own context.  This could be a very valuable contribution towards encouraging the employment of apps in education.

Your Devices

Please answer these quick polls to give idea of current mobile device usage and to experience online polling.

My Top Ten Apps

In preparation for presenting a workshop on mobile technology and devices in education I have been reviewing and playing with many iPhone and iPad apps.  It’s hard to narrow them down to my top ten because each will have certain features and functionality that might prove useful and valuable in a particular context.  However, my top ten apps overall reflect widespread needs and concerns that professionals might have and technical solutions that can be provided by technology.  So, these are my top ten:

Flipboard – A great personalized social magazine on your iPad that is made out of feeds from your Twitter account, your Facebook account and any other RSS feed.  Want to keep all those feeds in one place, in a simple and attractive interface design, well then Flipboard is your app.

Diigo – Diigo is a very effective social bookmarking site which has many tools and features to support the bookmarking of sites with comments, highlighted portions and even sticky notes.   By following a simple set of instructions, the Diigo toolbar will add these features to your web browsing experiences on your iPad and make bookmarking even better on your mobile devices.

Dropbox – Do you want to have access to files on your PC/Macbook, your iPad and your mobile phone?  Dropbox is a fantastic online tool for transferring files between these devices.  With Dropbox you will have access to a number of files anywhere, anytime through wifi.

Keynote – Create eye-catching presentations with this easy-to-use application.  Keynote is part of the Apple iWork software package and when loaded as an app on the iPad you can create presentations on the go.  Presentations can be created from scratch or copied from iTunes, iDisk, WebDAV as well which provides more options for use.  A simple to use interface.

Mindmash – ‘A Canvas for Your Ideas’ is the hook for this app.  Brainstorming and drawing is a key activity in mind mapping ideas within lessons and personal planning of work.  A tool with simple settings and very easy to use, this app will be helpful in all brainstorming sessions.

ShowMe – ShowMe is being taken on by many schools as a valuable classroom tool. This app allows an individual to draw with their finger or stylus on the screen and create a video at the same time.  As an instructional tool, this app facilitates the creation of videos that can guide students through learning concepts with teacher explanation. Students could also make their own videos to explain their new-found knowledge and skills on something.

GoodReader – One of the best PDF reader apps out there.  This app will let you read all your files easily and with some extra features included, you can even annotate your PDFs.  Like me, when you read an article you probably have various thoughts you’d like to take note of whilst doing it, with GoodReader its possible.  Highlighting and sticky notes are also great features of this app.

Read It Later – It’s easy to browse websites and read online resources when you have good wi-fi but when the wi-fi is gone what do you do?  Read It Later is an awesome app which you save as a bookmark and with the help of the javascript attached, every time you browse the web you can bookmark the pages using the Read It Later bookmark and it will save it to Read It Later for offline reading.

Feedler – There are many RSS feed reader apps out there but I like this one because it worked for me first off 🙂  This app is very easy to use and navigation to all your feeds is simple with the menus provided.  With too many features to list, this app syncs well with feeds and updates regularly with internet connectivity.  Also, you can cache your feeds for OFFLINE reading.

AudioNote – This app records voices as notes are taken and syncs them together.  You can also highlight notes during playback to mark points of interest.  I wish I’d had this tool during uni but it’s here now and its great!

There are an extensive amount of apps out there and each one will be marketed as having something different and doing something different, however, my advice would be to look at what your needs and intentions are when utilising apps in education.  What do you want the app to help faciltate?  What products to you want to see produced?