AIR UNIVERSITY AND THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE – INNOVATION
Chapter 5 discusses Innovation.
Along with the future of education, innovation plays a significant role in the forward leaning domain of learning for the next generation. This section of the literature review includes a few innovative strategies based on current trends in education and will explain how AU might leverage these capabilities through and past transformation. First, information on emerging instructional technologies will be presented. This area of study cannot be overemphasized. Through technology, education has already been transformed in many ways and the next generation offers at least as much promise as what we have already witnessed. Next, we will look at innovators in instructional technology to see how these people are bringing education into a new renaissance. Technologies that are on the horizon will be discussed as well. While these are nascent technologies, they have some bearing on the present and may have direct application and significance in the future. Finally, the future of the field of education in general will be discussed.
Web 2.0 technology is an item of wide discussion in education today. With the flexibility and pervasive use of technology in the classroom today, it is important to understand the emerging technologies and trends coming o the forefront. “Learners today are digital learners and the instructional methods used need to match their needs. The vast amount of available online resources and tools is part of the everyday reality and has introduced a diverse set of instructional methods with applications in student learning” (Daher & Lazarevic, 2014, p. 42). With the introduction of the vast amount of instructional technologies and methods available, the opportunity for confusion and being overwhelmed has increased in concert with the opportunity to succeed. “Web 2.0 technology is a relatively new, fast changing, and developing area of advancement. As such, educational uses have only been introduced to instructors in the last few years” (Daher & Lazarevic, 2014, p. 43). In their study, Daher and Lazarevic found that in order for new Web 2.0 tools to be used successfully in the classroom, teachers needed to feel comfortable and successful using them. “Instructors with a graduate degree were more likely to use these tools for instruction. However with the appropriate training, participants reported being more likely to incorporate these tools. Since educators are interested in how to use technology, not how to master it, it will be more beneficial to use a product-based approach in training rather than focus on a product itself” (Daher & Lazarevic, 2014, p. 49). Therefore, the use of emerging technologies needs to be supported well in order to use them effectively and with the most impact.
To follow on the discussion of emerging technical capabilities in education, the next article includes an interview of an innovator in the field of instructional technology and what we will see in coming years. The conversation is recorded by Fred Baker. Baker begins his discussion with Jason Ravitz, Ph.D., an education outreach evaluation manager at Google. In discussing his research in the field of education, Ravitz states: “Across many years and projects, I have always sought to understand effective designs, conditions for innovation, and the equity of implementation and outcomes” (Baker, 2014, p. 13). This approach to understanding and implementing educational technology is about looking forward and setting the stage for optimal integration and success. Ravits then explains some of his focus on evaluation in education and how this is vital to the proper implementation of educational technology: “I also value opportunities to evaluate new products and services, designing ways to get feedback to people who need it, creating measures and “data dashboards”. This emphasis on creating feedback mechanisms for teaching and learning programs was the focus of my second post-doc at SRI International and helps explain my longevity at the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) where we worked with hundreds of schools” (Baker, 2014, p. 13). The concept of evaluation of new technologies is extremely important in discovering what and how these tools and products can be used to highest effect. Ravitz also discusses trends influencing the field right now: “Increasingly, we see efforts to improve computer science education so that more diverse students and women can get involved in creating the technologies of the future. In my new job at Google, I will be looking at how to evaluate computer science education initiatives like these” (Baker, 2014, p. 14). Additionally, Ravitz states, “Another trend for me has been use of information systems like Customer Relations Management (CRM) software in educational organizations. As new capabilities emerge, using these systems to support professional development and research on teaching and learning seems like a natural next step” (Baker, 2014, p. 14). Through the use of CRM, research can be managed more effectively, allowing for the growth and synthesis of information necessary for moving education forward. Finally, Ravitz answers a question concerning other areas impacting the field as it relates to critical thinking and collaboration: “I am intrigued by ideas from the Critical Thinking Consortium and Roland Case who emphasizes that application of shared criteria is at the heart of critical thinking. Combined with tools like Project Foundry or ShowEvidence, we could give rubrics a much needed overhaul, so they do a better job of promoting critical thinking when they are used” (Baker, 2014, p. 14). Dr. Ravitz’s advice bears minding and may have practical application for programs at AU, especially in the realms of research, evaluation, and critical thinking.
In their study concerning teachers’ attitudes toward new educational technologies introduced in the Horizon Report, Hodges and Prater discuss technologies these teachers would like to see integrated into their classrooms. “It is clear that teachers’ beliefs of the value or perceived usefulness of various technologies are important elements to consider when adopting technologies for teaching and learning” (Hodges & Prater, 2014, p. 71). Based on the responses of these teachers, it makes sense to keep in mind that these are educational professionals with years of practical experience whose advice should be taken very seriously. The Horizon Report “includes predictions for technologies that will be adopted in schools in three categories: one year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. Interested readers can access the report in its entirety online at: http://www.nmc.org/publications/horizon- report-2011-k-12-edition” (Hodges & Prater, 2014, p. 72). The choices most selected for technologies one year or less out from that time were cloud computing and mobiles while the most selected from two to three year out were GBL and open content. “Mobile devices were noted as capable of making learning fun for the students, and allowing easy access to remediation software” (Hodges & Prater, 2014, p. 75). Conversely, GBL was not viewed as favorably, mostly due to the amount of development needed to implement them and a general attitude of ambivalence toward GBL, specifically from leadership in education. However, the prevailing attitude toward technology in the classroom was positive, especially as it relates to interaction, collaboration, and open education that would allow more influx of ideas and information.
Tutaleni Asino discusses the future of the field of education in an article that looks at “three areas that should be discussed further as we contemplate the future and growth in the field of educational technology: (1) Interdisciplinary applications of educational technology; (2) Culture’s impact on learning and learners and (3) Considering culture-specific designs for learning” (Asino, 2015, p. 20). These three considerations are discussed by Dr. Patricia Young who states: “The United States Census population projections from the 2010 Census report a growing racially and ethnically diverse population by 2060 and that this population will peak in 2024” (Asino, 2015, p. 20). This projection highlights the need for a new way of looking at how education is delivered, socialized, and constructed. Culture’s impact on learners and learning is included in this discussion and is given wide importance. “Advocacy for the integration of culture seems to have made advances in school aged STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related literature and in higher education literature on e-learning” (Asino, 2015, p. 21). Ultimately, the issue that continues to surface in education throughout every strata of society is the need to be ready for diversity. “Determining how people learn, think, behave and understand has applicability across disciplines and could change what, why and how designers create technologies” (Asino, 2015, p. 22). Kyle Peck follows some of these same thought patters in a slightly different way when he states: “Motivation to change seems to be powered by three primary factors: 1) a vision of what could be; 2) dissatisfaction with what is, and 3) evident, achievable next steps that can be taken to begin the transformation” (Asino, 2015, p. 24). The prevailing attitude is that the future of education must be forecasted using vision, what is not working now, and goal setting that makes sense for the future. Peck lays out a few ideas that could help education get there including: the growth and validation of online learning, flipped classrooms, MOOCs, open educational resources, competency-based learning, digital badges, prior learning assessment, and adaptive learning systems. Through these concepts and technologies, the future of education is an exciting place to be heading!
Asino, T.I. (2015). The future of our field. Association for Educational Communications and Technology, 59 (1), 20-30.
Baker, F.W. (2014). Conversations with innovators in learning and technology. TechTrends, 58 (5), 12-15.
Daher, T. (2014). Emerging instructional technologies: Exploring the extent of faculty use of web 2.0 tools at a midwestern community college. TechTrends, 58 (6), 42-50.
Hodges, C.B. & Prater, A.H. (2014). Technologies on the Horizon: Teachers Respond to the Horizon Report. TechTrends, 58 (3), 71-77.