Last week I attended the Emerging Technologies and Authentic Learning in Vocational Higher Education conference at the UCT Graduate School of Business, which had a pretty impressive lineup of keynote speakers:
The general theme of the conference was the idea of “learning and play”, with Professor Dick N’gambi opening the event with the following statement: “The creative adult is the child who survived”, referring to the fact that the formal educational system doesn’t encourage innovation and creativity. How do we prepare students for a world that we can’t predict, unless we encourage within them an attitude of exploration and discovery.
The conference was linked to a Special Issue of the British Journal of Educational Technology, to which I’ve submitted the following paper: Rowe – Developing graduate attributes in an open online course (note that this is currently under review). Here are my slides from the workshop I ran on setting up and running an open online course:
…and here is the Twitter feed for the event.
This is just a summary of Steve Wheeler’s post from his “Shaping Education for the future” series, with a few of my own comments.
Professor Wheeler suggests five strategies that institutions of higher learning will need to put in place, in order for digital technologies to become as successful as pen and paper:
- Technology will need to become more transparent.
- Universities will need to provide better support for academics.
- Teachers must understand the relevance and application of new technologies.
- Teachers will need to develop confidence in the use of these technologies.
- More research into the use of new technologies is essential.
Without paying attention to each of these, it’s unlikely that you would really change teaching and learning practices on any meaningful level. For a better understanding of the concept of “new” technologies, consider reading George Veletsianos’ “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education” (free PDF available), even if only for the first chapter on defining “emerging technologies”.
From the comments of the original post, Stephen Bright has added another list of considerations, which I hadn’t come across before, but which added more insight to the problem. He suggests looking at Rogers’ five characteristics of innovation, which may also impact the adoption of technology in the classroom. These include:
- Relative advantage. The degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. The underlying principle is that the greater the perceived relative advantage of an innovation, the more raid its rate of adoption.
- Compatibility. The degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.
- Complexity. The degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use.
- Trialability. The degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis. If an innovation is trialable, it results in less uncertainty for adoption.
- Observability. The degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. The easier it is for individuals to see the results of an innovation, the more likely they are to adopt.
I think that this is especially important when considering the introduction of new, or emerging, technologies into the classroom. We not only need to consider the practical implications in terms of support, but also understand that we are introducing something innovative, the immediate implications of which may not be visible. Without evidence of a direct positive change, it may be difficult to get buy-in from those who are not already sold on the idea. Understanding how people perceive the new technology may help us develop strategies to win them over.