IMA 505 Third Paper
May 5, 2013
The information revolution of the last two decades will dramatically change the future of education and the instruction of history. The World Wide Web, which is still relatively in its infancy, has changed how information is accessed and distributed to instructors and students. The invention of movable type by Gutenberg set the stage for how information was recorded centuries ago. As with any other new invention that has changed civilization, the World Wide Web is no different. The World Wide Web probably comes in second next to Gutenberg in its importance to the world. Both of these inventions set the stage for information sharing and instruction. This paper peers into some theories about where technology will guide education and instruction in the future.
One of David W. Lewis’ strategies for early twenty-first century academic libraries is that they “cannot afford to wait too long” in regards to adapting to the changing world of technology. Speed and easy access to information is the way of the future. Both scholars and patrons are accustomed to information on demand in the form of digital libraries. Elementary education also needs to adapt to massive changes. One change is the electronic book. The Internet is a world without borders that challenges the traditions of publishing, where companies obtain the rights to publish works in specific regional markets. National controls over content are a specialized application of protection systems that outline a set of restrictions on the ability to acquire and use content. They also represent a new and relatively unexamined control on the use of digital information. Controls have implications for restricting the international flow of information and for facilitating national censorship policies. There is currently a great interest in technologies, such as Digital Island’s Traceware, which allow network servers to determine from what nation users are originating from as a means of incorporating national policies into the services provided by networked information resources. However, there are many people who remain skeptical about dismissing print in favor of electronic material. Some past studies comparing reading on screen and paper for comprehension and accuracy favor print. A 1998 study reported a decline in speed and accuracy, and an increase in fatigue, when reading from a screen. In addition, editors prefer to proofread from paper, where errors are more noticeable than on screen. Chris McAskill of MightyWords.com has stated that the vast majority of eBook purchasers print before reading. Gabriel B. Frommer, a professor of psychology at Indiana University, stated in 1998 that for students a “paper version appears to be almost necessary” and that “many also point out that a paper version is much easier to use when preparing for a test.” Nevertheless those studies were conducted in the late 1980s and 1990s, and screen resolution and scroll-speed have increased dramatically. Some believe that the new generation of learners, the Net Generation or N-Gen, is more accustomed to reading and learning from a screen. Tapscott described that “[kids] look at computers the same way [baby] boomers look at TV. This shift from broadcast medium (television) to interactive medium (the Net) signals a ‘generation lap’ in which the N-Gen is lapping its parents on the ‘info-track.’” Matt Gomez, DigitalOwl’s marketing director, agrees that children are more likely to take to electronic learning and stated that “students are the early adopters” and “they’re still not going to want to do their homework, but when textbooks are interactive, when they can play with them like Nintendo, perhaps it will make learning a more enjoyable experience.” Gomez takes it another step further and suggests that “some of the history textbooks in the Florida school system don’t even mention the Clinton administration, that’s how old they are. Digital textbooks can be updated on the fly with information on what happened in legislature two weeks ago.” Textbooks in electronic form can no longer be out of date and are much less costly.
The new world of learning puts learners at the center, leverages technologies and human capital in new ways, and incorporates new structures. Learners will develop deeper knowledge and abilities, and new ways of thinking and acting will be required. Future instructors on the other hand must use of next generation digital media such as immersive games, simulations, and technologies of cooperation to create rich learning experiences for each learner. They must focus on “the whole student” by creating connections with their immediate communities and integrate multiple types of data streams to make the process transparent to learners, parents, and other key stakeholders. The education system will provide all students with high-quality learning experiences making use of flexible and adaptive learning platforms.
For the future of education, Envisioning Technology.Com believes “fast-paced innovation and perpetual change is the only constant.” The website visualizes the present as the prevailing paradigm of a single teacher addressing dozens of students in a physical setting. Technology is fixed and centralized in a computer lab or classroom. However it is also in a studio of peer to peer learning environments where groups discuss, learn and solve problems with each other and the teacher serves as a facilitator. In this virtual environment, learning, discussion, and assessment happen regardless of physicality or geography. Secondly it predicts in 2020 as classrooms digitize, students are free to collaborate with peers globally. This will undo the traditional teacher-student model. Teachers will focus on teaching and the classroom will be replaced by studios and virtual teaching modes. The year 2030 leads to tangible computing or embedding computation to the physical via intelligent object such as digitally intermediated field trips. The last prediction of 2040 is that over time education becomes a continuous, interconnected effort in a changing world. Technologies will include holography, retinal screens, and virtual reality. These will bridge the online-offline gap and offer a potential future where “embodiment is secondary to information access.”
The accessibility of information in the present and the future can be referred to as social-structured learning. Users share knowledge with acquaintances on their hand-held or mobile devices in the instance that questions arise. Measured on a social scale, it is an aggregation of micro-learning experiences drawn from accessible content and driven not by grades. A project at USC and UCLA is taking this a step further. Hypercities is a mobile app that displays not only “points of interest” in a particular location, such as restaurants, stores, and museums, but showcases historical information on the actual city terrain. The Smithsonian Leafsnap phone is similar and responds when you take a photo of a tree leaf by instantly searching a growing library of leaf images. Presently MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are the rage. Some see them as a replacement of traditional lectures or tutorials. However, this is an online rather than physical setting. Social-structured learning, as the aforementioned view from Envisioning Technology.Com, breaks learning and education out of traditional institutional environments and embeds it in everyday settings and interactions, across a wide set of platforms and tools. These include open content sources such as Wikipedia. Education is a flow of information where learning resources are not scarce but widely available.
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