McCrea, B. (2009) 5 Higher Ed Trends to Watch in 2010 Campus Technology, December 9
Here is the first of the predictions for educational technology trends for 2010. If this is the way of the future, frankly I give up. We should just stop trying to use technology in higher education, and give the money to poor kids in Africa to buy themselves something useful.
Here are Campus Computing’s five trends (with quotations from the article in italics):
1. Interactive classrooms: “Anything that helps make the classroom more interactive, animated and engaging–be it multimedia, streaming video or some other innovation–will be in demand this year.” What next? Lecturers dressed as clowns, doing juggling? Come on, guys, the space-based lecture classroom is DEAD (actually, a zombie, as it’s really still the living dead).
2. Information at your fingertips. “In an era when information just can’t be produced quickly enough, electronic book readers, smart phones, search engines, and other tools will continue to create an educational environment where both students and teachers have everything they need at their fingertips.” OK so far. Then it goes on to say: ‘Phelan pointed to the colleges that are “handing out” tablet PCs to all freshmen as the frontrunners in the race to equip students with all of the information they need to succeed in school. “I’d really like to see more schools making that move,” said Phelan, “and even further integrate technology into the college classroom.” Why? If they have this stuff, why bring it to class? YOU HAVE TO RE-DESIGN YOUR TEACHING – OR RATHER THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT – TO BENEFIT FROM THIS, NOT CHAIN IT TO THE CLASSROOM!
3. Mashed up technologies ‘“Students are using every communication vector that they can get their hands on right now,” said Ron Hutchins, associate vice provost for research technology and CTO at Georgia Institute of Technology’s Office of Information Technology. “It just makes sense that they would mash those technologies together and make them more specific and customizable.” OK – I have no problem with this one, except I’d like to see some ideas of how this is to be integrated within the curriculum to address educational issues, and in particular how this will be related to developing 21st century skills within a particular knowledge domain. Getting students to mash up is the easy part; the hard part is asking the questions: ‘To what purpose?’ and ‘how effective is it in supporting learning?’
4. Breaking Out of Technology Isolation “One of the coolest uses of technology that Hutchins has seen lately can be found in Rutgers University’s English department, which is equipped with an entire wall of touch-enabled whiteboards. Using precision positioning technology, the wall-mounted boards allow for unprecedented participation and collaboration among students. “Students walk up to the wall and use their hands to manipulate items,” remarked Hutchins. “It’s like putting your whole body into a design project.” Hutchins said such innovations also go a long way in getting students up out of their seats and interacting with educators, other students and technology in a meaningful way. “Technology can be isolating,” he said. “I love the notion of integrating the classroom and making it more social. This is just one way to make that happen.” Well, if you want to make technology less isolating, why not use online collaborative learning, social software, or just provide students a time and/or place, physical or virtual, to talk? Touching whiteboards on walls to break down technology isolation? Give me a break.
5. Capabilities That Go Beyond 1:1 Netbooks, online education, social networking, smart phones and podcasting will continue to play a role in the typical student’s life, as will “4:1 computing” as a replacement for the more traditional 1:1 (one device to handle one task). Well, what about technology integration? I don’t think the trend is to more devices, but one device that does everything. So NO, the trend will be MORE to 1:1 – one student, one device – computer, mobile phone, TV, e-book, search engine, camera, recording studio, GPS system, transmitter, and many more functions we haven’t even though of yet – all on one device.
I suppose that a journal called CAMPUS Technology cannot think outside the classroom or the campus. What should be remembered though is that the classroom and the campus are the technology of face-to-face teaching for an industrial society. What we need to think about is the appropriate cyberspace technologies and learning environments for an information society. Like all old technologies, the physical classroom still has a niche role in education, but we need to be thinking of that niche role as an ancillary of digital learning, not the core of our focus.
In a few days time, I will be doing my own predictions for 2010, so you will be able to mock my efforts! Well, that’s only fair, isn’t it?