Over the last year or so, Peter Tittenberger and George Siemens have been working on a Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning. They’ve now completed version #1 which is available on a wiki which will continue to be updated. If you prefer to read paper, a .pdf version of the handbook is also available.
The handbook provides an overview of the change pressures and trends in education, before exploring in more detail what we know about learning and the relationship between technology, teaching and learning, then moving into exploring ideas about the future and what it might hold.
On first read I am impressed, and will certainly take the time now to go back and examine it in more detail. Like writers in this field that I had to read in earlier eras (Heinech, Molenda et.al.) Tittenberger and Siemens approach the topic by locating the use of technology in education within the broader mileu of educational issues, drawing on relevant theories and theorists to support their argument for where technology ‘fits’. In the earlier era this included Dale’s Cone of Experience and basic communication models – still relevant today, although on their own can be used to justify an ‘additive’ approch to technology use in education, rather than something that is truly transformative which is the basis of Siemens’ theory of Connectivism.
It’s not all theory however, Tittenberger and Siemens have included plenty of practical advice and models for implementation that recognise the realities of today’s classrooms and the barriers to change that exist within our existing school systems. For those new to the field, or who feel overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” to digest in the field, this is an excellent starting point, with frequent definitions and explanations of things, and text that isn’t too dense and is punctuated with easy to digest diagrams and models.
The conclusion sums up the usefulness of the handbook in my view…
The use of technology for learning is influenced by developments in numerous fields: technology itself, global trends (market economy growth, changing immigration patterns, intellectual shifts to emerging economies132), societal trends, and trends within educational research.
Much of the change in education over the last several decades has been defined by discussion of content. Should we teach more math? Science? What about ethics? How should we teach? Lecture? Problem-based learning? It seems that much of educational reform has been concerned with determining the content of education, rather than the model and process of learning design and delivery in a technology infused world.
The “arranging of deck chairs” approach requires reconsideration. The change pressures faced in education today (and society as a whole) are much deeper than a shift in content or in pedagogy alone will meet. Leaders and administrators are faced with the task of redefining the role of the academy in a world of constant change and hyper-connectivity.
For individual faculty members and departments, greater use of emerging technology can serve as an important bridging process between the traditional role of education and the not yet clearly defined future. Active participation in the ecology of perpetual change provides organizations with the capacity to sense, recognize, and respond to emerging patterns.
Through a process of active experimentation, the academy’s role in society will emerge as a prominent sense-making and knowledge expansion institution, reflecting of the needs of learners and society while maintaining its role as a transformative agent in pursuit of humanity’s highest ideals.