In the latest edition of The NMC Horizon Report, several emerging technologies are highlighted that are projected to enter into the mainstream education world in the next few years. Based on the continual increase of the capabilities of modern technology, these tools and services must be harnessed and implemented in the classroom to “engage students on a deeper level”.
The report remarks on the newly widespread expectation of being able to work, play, and study anywhere at anytime. Learning is no longer confined within the walls of the classroom, as the increase of mobile devices and tablets such as the iPad have extended the realm of possibilities concerning how and where learning can take place. Previously, the use of mobile devices in the classroom has been frowned upon. Although bans on cell phones are still in place, “K-12 schools are increasingly seeing the potential of mobile devices—and noting that not only are the devices themselves less expensive than most laptops, they need less infrastructure to support them. All of these changes have moved mobiles to the forefront of technology planning for many school districts”.
Additionally, iPads are now being viewed as innovative tools to enhance 1:1 learning as suites of apps and books can be chosen and utilized differently according to each student’s unique learning style and skill level. The report remarks on the high demand for personalized learning “as one-size-fits-all teaching methods are neither effective nor acceptable for today’s diverse students. Technology can and should support individual choices about access to materials and expertise, amount and type of educational content, and methods of teaching”.
Another emerging technology, game-based learning, incorporates the potential of tablets in the classroom with the proven success of utilizing games as educational tools. Students’ high level of engagement while playing educational games is because “they are motivated to do better, get to the next level, and succeed… On the surface, what makes games like this more engaging to students is that the end goal of learning is packaged in the form of an exciting, alternate reality”. Recently, the release of educational games in the form of apps has further increased the capabilities of tablets as instructional instruments.
The concerns of mobile devices providing distractions and disturbances in the classrooms are finally beginning to melt away, as “the vast potential of these devices for learning will begin to outweigh concerns”.
Source: “The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition.” New Media Consortium (2011). Web. 26 May 2011.