Applications of emerging technologies for learning are evolving very rapidly at the moment. Reseach reports and cases on technology-enhanced learning are popping up everywhere in the web. The British BECTA organisation published an interesting report on the “Emerging Technologies for Learning“. In the report six experts describe different emerging technologies and their impact on learning. The trends covered are:
- The netgeneration: a new generation of learners with the computer as the nucleus of their workspace. They go online when they need information, are multitasking and primarily use Instant Messaging, e-mail and cell phones for communication. Conclusion: our assumptions about students and what is best for their education may not be matched by today’s reality.
- Mobile, wireless & connected learning: mobile devices and wireless networks are changing the way we live, work and learn. We are connected to people and information real-time, anywhere and anytime. For learning the concept of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) applies to this trend. It enables close integration of learning into the day-to-day practice of our private and work lives.
- Location-based, context-aware learning: ‘ubiquitous computing’ principles are about the integration of computing power (microprocessors) in our environment. The computer itself dissapears, but they have their tentacles in the environment to sense. manage, interpret and act on information around us. This already becomes clear in wireless networking, GPS and mobile devices. However applications are few the potential of this technology for the learning environment is great.
- Serious games and virtual worlds: serious games and virtual worlds are about using gaming and virtual reality techniques to explore non-leisure concepts. They enable us to provide support for learning communities, broadening networks of learners and providing creative, self-directed learning and experience design. This matches the shifting need from knowledge transfer to experience and activity design in education.
- Search technologies: new Internet search technologies emerge with conceptual, contextual and semantic search. This enables us to find the information we are looking for more easily when we turn to the web. Tag clouds and social tagging are examples of new ways of tagging available information to improve searching processes. It supports learning, but is not a substitute for Education 1.0 that for this author hasn’t lost its relevancy.
- Interactive displays: new ways of displaying computer screens open up new ways of using computers in the classroom and beyond. With touch-screen mobile devices and electronic whiteboards new opportunities for learning emerge. Computers and content become more human centered and enable collaboration. This supports new ways of activity-based and workplace learning with computers.
This BECTA report is an interesting read that is rooted in the field of education, but also has relevancy for corporate learning. New models of learning are within reach for learners and learning professionals based on the empowering force of new technology. Let’s reap the benefits!