It is important for many reasons that the education sector must remain continually alert to emergent technology developments and possibilities, not least because those developments, and related implications, can be very rapid. This is particularly true in the context of young students’ everyday uses of technology and approaches to using technology in professional and other environments to enhance knowledge development and transfer. It is also important to note the importance of developments in social networking and Web 2.0 to educational uses of technology.
At present, we can observe an increasing range of educational activities which incorporate the use of those technologies. It is essential that we educators can learn from those examples to understand what’s effective and sustainable in supporting our students’ learning. Technology developments touch on some fundamental issues and questions in learning practice. A central issue is the role of both the learner and their community in the development of knowledge and understanding. Many emergent technology tools promote active, participatory and collaborative knowledge building. We need to understand how effective those approaches are in practice and discuss the implications for education and education professionals. We have to stimulate that discussion and debate in our educational institutions, especially in our area departments.
Now we are starting to see more innovation on the consumer internet translated into a new approach to the use of online technology in supporting education, which has huge potential for positive change. This emerging technology affects us and our students as humans in the sense that it is about connecting and socialising our use of computing, and making it more personal. The tools are important, though changing all the time, but the connected networks of people, data and services that are emerging around them are what this is really all about. The culture of internet, access resulting from broadband adoption, combined with the fact that more and more people are now students sharing ideas through blogs, wikis, messaging and other online tools, is creating a critical mass of connectivity that is driving innovation. But we need to encourage students and other teachers to become active participants in their own relationship with technology.
There is a way in which we as teachers can cope with emerging technologies and keep up-to-date and it is by familiarizing ourselves with blogs, wikis, messaging and other emerging online tools. Inappropriately used in the classroom, emergent technology can be used to perpetuate old models of teaching and learning. Students can be only plugged into computers to do drill and practice that is not so different from workbooks. But we teachers can use emergent technologies to give more colorful, stimulating lectures. We must explore how these technologies can be used to stimulate and develop writing skills, collaborate with peers in foreign countries, and do authentic kinds of research that is valuable and meaningful.
For example, Apple ipods can be used for educational purposes. It can be used for podcasting which is a technology that can allow educational institutions and students to deliver multimedia content to an audience on a regular basis with little or no effort on the part of a user. The user can simply subscribe to a Podcast feed and the content is downloaded to the user’s computer when a new Podcast program is available. This Podcast can then be played in a computer media player of the user’s choice, such as iTunes, or synchronised with the users portable music player, such as an iPod. This means that the user does not have to go and look for information and is not tied into accessing media at specified times.