Professor & Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University

Category: open

A definition of emerging technologies for education

Posted on November 18th, by George Veletsianos in E-learning, Ideas, open, sharing, work. 23 comments
[Update 3: The definition below has been updated and appears in the second edition of my emerging technologies and emerging practices book. More details on the updated definition are here. The updated definition is in chapter 1 of the new book]

 

[Update 2: The ideas discussed below appear in full detail at: Veletsianos, G. (2010). A Definition of Emerging Technologies for Education. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.), Emerging Technologies in Distance Education (pp. 3-22). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press. You can download a pdf of this chapter from: http://www.aupress.ca/books/120177/ebook/01_Veletsianos_2010-Emerging_Technologies_in_Distance_Education.pdf ]

 

[Update 1 : Nov 30, 2008: I was feeling a bit uneasy to write that noone has yet come up with a definition of emerging technologies. So, I emailed George Siemens asking if he had a definition that he is using in his work. He asked the question on twitter here, and posted the replies he received here. Picking up on the twitter message and George’s blog post, a few other definitions have emerged here and here. Thank you everyone for contributing your thoughts! The working book chapter with the definition of emerging technologies for education, teaching, and learning is updated and available]

 

Surprisingly enough, the education, e-learning, educational technology, instructional design, and so on literatures do not include a definition of emerging technologies for education. Below is my attempt at defining the term. This definition will be part of a book chapter to be published in 2009. The complete chapter will be posted here by the end of January 2009. Enjoy, and if you have any comments, or if you happen to stumble upon a definition of emerging technologies, please feel free to comment!

Emerging Technologies are tools, innovations, and advancements utilized in diverse educational settings (including distance, face-to-face, and hybrid forms of education) to serve varied education-related purposes (e.g., instructional, social, and organizational goals). Emerging Technologies (ET) can be defined and understood in the context of the following five characteristics:

1. ET can be, but are not necessarily, new technologies. It is important to note that in this context the words emerging and new are usually treated as synonymous, but they may not necessarily be so. While a definition of new might be perilous and contentious, ET may represent newer developments (e.g., utilizing the motion sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote to practice surgical techniques) as well as older ones (e.g., employing open source learning management systems at higher education institutions). Even though it may be true that most emerging technologies are newer technologies, the mere fact that they are new, does not necessarily categorize them as emerging. This idea of new technologies being emerging technologies also begs the following two questions: When do technologies cease to be new? When technologies cease to be new, do they also cease to be emerging? For example, synthetic (or virtual) worlds were described as an emerging technology more than ten years ago (Dede, 1996). Today, virtual worlds are still described as emerging technologies (e.g. de Freitas, 2008). Newness, by itself, is a problematic indicator of what emerging technologies, as older technologies can also be emerging– the reasons for this will become clearer after we examine the characteristics that follow.

2. ET are evolving organisms that exist in a state of “coming into being”. The word evolving describes a dynamic state of change and continuous refinement and development. Twitter, the popular social networking and micro-blogging platform, represents an illustrative example of an ET that is “coming into being.” Twitter’s early success and popularity would often cause frequent outages. Such issues were most noticeable during popular technology events (e.g., during the MacWorld keynote address). After a while, Twitter’s outage issues were both lambasted and anticipated by the industry. When a new company moved into Twitter’s old offices, an image was posted on the office door (Figure 1) as a tongue-in-cheek statement regarding Twitter’s downtime and office relocation. Early attempts to satisfy sudden surges in demand included using more servers and implementing on/off switches to various Twitter features (e.g., during the 2008 WorldWide Developers Conference), while later efforts included  Re-designing the application’s architecture and withdrawing services (e.g., free SMS and instant messaging support). Existing in a state of evolution, Twitter continuously develops and refines its service, while maintaining its core purpose, and still being an emerging rather than an established technology.

3. ET go through hype cycles. Today’s emerging technology might be tomorrow’s fad, and today’s simple idea might be tomorrow’s key to boosting productivity. While it is easy to fall into the trap of believing that today’s innovations will completely restructure and revolutionize the way we learn and teach, it is important to remain critical to hype. Even though technology has had a major impact on how distance education is delivered, managed, negotiated, and practiced, it is also important to recognize that due to organizational, cultural, and historical factors, education, as a field of study and practice, is resistant to change (c.f. Cuban, 1993; Lortie, 1975). Technologies and ideas go through cycles of euphoria, adoption, activity and use, maturity, impact, enthusiasm, and even infatuation. In the end, some of today’s emerging technologies (and ideas) will become stable (and staple), while others will fade in the background.

One way to describe the hype that surrounds emerging technologies and ideas for education is to observe the Hype Cycle model (Fenn & Raskino, 2008) developed by Gartner Inc. This model evaluates the relative maturity and impact of technologies and ideas and follows five stages that have been successfully applied to diverse topics (table 1). Most specific to the topic of this book are the hype cycle models developed for Higher Education (Gartner, 2008a) e-learning (Gartner, 2006), and emerging technologies (Gartner, 2008b).

4.      ET satisfy the “not yet” criteria. The “not yet” criteria refer to two interrelated issues:

a. ET are not yet fully understood. One factor distinguishing ET from other forms of technology is the fact that we are not yet able to understand what such technologies are, what they offer for education, and what they mean for learners, instructors, and institutions. For example, what exactly is mobile learning? How does it differ from other forms of learning? What does it mean to have access to data regardless of geographic location? What are the social and pedagogical affordances of mobile learning in relation to alternative forms of learning? As a result of ET not being fully understood, a second issue arises:
b. ET are not yet fully researched or researched in a mature way. Initial investigations of ET are often evangelical and describe superficial issues of the technology (e.g., benefits and drawbacks) without focusing on underdtanding the affordances of the technology and how those affordances can provide different (and hopefully better) ways to learn and teach at a distance. Additionally, due to the evolutionary nature of these technologies, the research that characterizes it falls under the case study and formative evaluation approaches (Dede, 1996), which, by itself, is not necessarily a negative facet of research, but it does pinpoint to our initial attempts to understand the technology and its possibilities. Nevertheless, because ET are not yet fully researched, initial deployments of emerging technology applications merely replicate familiar processes, leading critics to argue that technologies are new iterations of the media debate (e.g., Choi and Clark, 2006; c.f. Clark, 1994; Kozma, 1994; Tracey & Hasting, 2005). Unfortunately, to a large extend, they are right – newer technologies are often used in old ways: Linear PowerPoint slides replace slideshow projectors; blogs – despite the opportunities they offer for collaboration – replace personal reflection diaries; and pedagogical agent lectures replace non-agent lectures (e.g., Choi and Clark, 2006).

5. ET are potentially disruptive but their potential is mostly unfulfilled. Individuals and corporations recognize that a potential exists, but such potential hasn’t yet been realized. The potential to transform practices, processes, and institutions, is both welcomed and opposed. For example, open access journals have the potential to transform the ways research and knowledge are disseminated and evaluated. While this advancement has the potential to disrupt scholarship, to date, the majority of research is still published at closed access journals and periodicals.

As I have said before, i developed the above “definition/description” because i couldn’t find one in the literature. If you have one that for one reason or another i couldn’t find, please feel free to add the citation/reference to the comments or send me an email. If you have any critiques, i also wouldn’t mind hearing those either :)

I would like to see an IRRODL conversation on connectivism

Posted on October 23rd, by George Veletsianos in open, work. 2 comments

My inbox brought a present today. In the latest issue of The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (Vol 9, No 3, 2008), Rita Kop and Adrian Hill discuss whether Connectivism represents a theory of learning. They reach the conclusion that while not necessarily a theory, Connectivism represents an important development in the contemporary learning and teaching landscape, “A paradigm shift, indeed, may be occurring in educational theory, and a new epistemology may be emerging, but it does not seem that connectivism’s contributions to the new paradigm warrant it being treated as a separate learning theory in and of its own right.  Connectivism, however, continues to play an important role in the development and emergence of new pedagogies, where control is shifting from the tutor to an increasingly more autonomous learner.”

While I enjoyed reading this paper, I would like to see a conversation around connectivism and this paper situated within one location, such as an IRRODL special issue. While I am sure that Siemens and Downes will respond in one way or another to this paper (after all, there is a blog post dedicated to the issues and arguments against connectivism on the Connectivism & Connective Knowledge online course and from Rita’s blog it seems that George and Stephen already have Rita’s paper), discovering this information can be rather difficult. On the other hand, dedicating a special issue of an open access journal to dicsussing connectivism and its ctitique may be worthwhile.

Call for Chapters: Using Emerging Technologies in Distance Education

Posted on July 3rd, by George Veletsianos in cfp, E-learning, Ideas, open, work. 2 comments

Dear everyone,

I am very excited to announce a CFP on the use of emerging technologies in distance education. Specifics are listed below. The CFP can also be downloaded in pdf form.

CALL FOR CHAPTER PROPOSALS

Proposal Submission Deadline: September 1, 2008

Using Emerging Technologies in Distance Education
edited by George Veletsianos (University of Manchester, UK)

Part of the Issues in Distance Education series
edited by Terry Anderson (Athabasca University, Canada)

and planned publication online and in paper format by Athabasca University Press as an
Open Access publication

Introduction

Emerging technologies – such as virtual worlds, serious games, wikis, and social networking sites – have been heralded as technologies that are powerful enough to transform learning and teaching. Nevertheless, minimal work has investigated the affordances of such tools in the context of distance education. Most often, the literature presents a description of such technologies along with classroom integration ideas, presenting an incomplete picture of how such technologies are used in distance education. In particular, the goal of this book is to amalgamate work in the use of emerging technologies to design, enhance and deliver distance education. Researchers and practitioners interested in the above issues reside in varied academic domains, rendering the sharing and dissemination of their work a formidable task. Via this book, we hope to harness dispersed knowledge and multidisciplinary perspectives. The target audience is both members of research communities and innovative distance education practitioners.

Scope

The book will be limited to the use of emerging technologies for distance education. Recommended emerging technologies of interest for the book include, but are not limited, to:
• Blogs
• Microblogging platforms,
• Wikis and Wikibooks
• Social Networking Sites
• Virtual worlds
• Video games
• Cell/mobile phones and devices,
• Virtual characters, Avatars, and Pedagogical Agents
• Web 2.0 and data mashups
• Pod and video casts
• Online grassroots video
• Open Educational Resources and Open Access Technologies
• Pod usage production models

Invited Submissions

The book will consist of chapters (5,000 – 8,000 words) showcasing best practices, illustrating and analyzing how emerging technologies have been used in diverse distance learning and teaching areas. Via such work, it is expected that each chapter will contribute a list of ideas and factors that need to be considered when emerging technologies are adopted for distance teaching and learning. Equally important, contributing authors should highlight the pedagogical, organizational, cultural, social, economic, or political factors that influence the adoption and success/failure of emerging technologies.

Audience

This book is intended to be used as a one stop locale for work relating to the use of emerging technologies in distance education. As such, it is expected to be relevant to researchers, practitioners, and students. Importantly, due to the fact that interested parties reside in multiple disciplines and academic departments, chapters should be accessible to a broad audience.

Submission Procedure

By September 1, 2008: Submit a 1-2 page chapter proposal summarizing the intended submission.
Papers should be submitted via email to: veletsianos |AT| gmail.com

October 1, 2008: Author notification along with chapter guidelines

December 1, 2008: Full chapters are due.

All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis.
Expected Publication date is late 2009.

Sharing is Caring: Free e-book on Research Methods

Posted on March 30th, by George Veletsianos in E-learning, open, sharing. No Comments

In the spirit of sharing, and with permission Dr. Justus Randolph, I’d like to draw your attention to the following message. Personally, I was looking for such a book, and the fact that Justus has made in freely available is more than generous – Hurray for open and shareable educational materials!

Dear e-learning colleagues,

 

As a professional courtesy, I would like to inform you of a free e-book, Multidisciplinary Methods in Educational Technology Research and Development, recently published by HAMK University of Applied Sciences Press. In that text I theoretically and empirically chart the methods currently being used in our field and also provide information on planning, conducting, and reporting educational technology research and development projects. I hope that you will find it to be a useful text for educational technology research methods courses, a helpful resource for conducting (or supervising) research, and a rich source of empirical information on the art and science of educational technology research.

 

In the spirit of the open education movement, this is a free resource that you are welcome to use, reproduce, and distribute as you see fit, barring commercial uses or derivate works. It can be downloaded from:

 

http://justus.randolph.name/methods/

 

Best wishes,

Justus Randolph

Rovaniemi, Finland

http://justus.randolph.name