Emerging Learning Technologies

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I feel the term “emerging technologies,” may, in most cases, too generally applied.  For instance, Halaweh (2013 ) assigned qualifiers for what he considers to be “emerging technology.” Specifically, Halaweh wrote that, to earn this moniker; the technology must have:

  •  High levels of uncertainty. Halaweh argues the technology’s capability must be unknown and unpredictable and void of “mature” standards and specifications. Therefore, there must be an absence of associated with current business models, prices, and adoption rates.
  •  Value-based access: Halaweh explains its adoption and availability must drive the value of the technology.  Halaweh tied this directly to the current and projected number of users.
  • Outstanding research and development cost. Halaweh claims that, since the full application, specifications, and capabilities of the technology is yet unknown, the cost of owning or widespread production of the technology should be high. 
  • Disruptive tendencies. Halaweh explains emerging technologies should be associated with a suspected unseen, unexpected, or unknown impact on society or economies.  If transformation and disruptive change are not the expected outcomes, the technology may not emerge because it may not be needed.
  • Geographically or context restricted. Halaweh writes, in its initial stages, the technology should be available only within a particular context or country, usually within the country or intent of the inventor.
  • Lack of unbiased or objective considerations. Halaweh warns that most new technologies are investigated and studied by creators or stakeholders with information disseminated through owner white papers and technical reports. Halaweh feels to be genuinely considered as emerging; the technology, there must be a lack of thorough scientific or academic investigation (Halaweh, 2013).

Halaweh’s perspective accepted, I argue that most learning technologies fall within his definition of emerging technologies because academia appears to be standing on the threshold of learning technologies definition and adoption; but, not wholly committed. For instance, more investigation is needed regarding the potential impacts of 3-D, and 4-D printing, interactive whiteboards, smartphone use and integration in the classroom, game-based learning, stealth assessments, and digital learning management systems and the benefits to pedagogy.  Best-practices for e-learning and blended learning have yet to be fully defined and generally accepted. And, required professional development standards for pre-service teachers to ensure they understand how to integrate learning technologies into instruction currently lacks standardization.

Therefore, in my opinion, much is yet to be learned about what indeed constitutes pedagogical “emerging technologies.” As noted by Bozalek et al., there is a growing need to explore and understand literature that evaluates the practical uses of technology for transformative learning.

Further, Guri-Rosenblit and Gros (2011) identified existing gaps in objective and unbiased quantitative research regarding the broad concepts that surround e-learning learning technologies theories, and systems (macro analysis) and cost-benefit analyses studies regarding management, organization, and institutional investments, implementation, and maintenance costs of e-learning platforms and for e-learning management systems adoption (meso analysis). Guri-Rosenblit & Gros also recommend qualitative study focused on teaching and learning in e-learning environments. Until such work has been completed, Guri-Rosenblit & Gros warns there will continue to be confusing terminology, research gaps, and inherent challenges regarding the definition and usefulness of emerging learning technologies within the body of knowledge (Guri-Rosenblit & Gros, 2011).

Considering these factors, I argue that any and all new or existing technologies that aspire or claim to have educational purposes be viewed as “emerging pedagogy learning technologies” until proven otherwise.

Who knows? Some of this crazy stuff just might work.

 

References

Bozalek, V., Hardman, J., Amory, A., Herrington, J., Ng’ambi, D., & Wood, D. (2014). Activity Theory, Authentic Learning, and Emerging Technologies: Towards a Transformative Higher Education Pedagogy. Hoboken: Routledge.

Guri-Rosenblit, S., & Gros, B. (2011). E-learning: Confusing terminology, research gaps, and inherent challenges. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 25(1).

Halaweh, M. (2013). Emerging technology: What is it. Journal of technology management & innovation, 8(3), 108-115.4

 

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