Educational technology, also known variously as e-learning, instructional technology and learning technology is the use of technology to support the learning process. Though technology is used widely in the administration and management of education (i.e. student records, marketing, procurement, finance etc, for research purposes, educational technology is only concerned with technology as it impacts upon the learning process, such as delivering learning materials, facilitating communication and providing course assessment and feedback. Over the years, society??™s use of technology has become more frequent and complex. The demand for knowledge increases exponentially, with e-learning emerging as a major channel for meeting this demand. The key to a successful future educational technology is software and how it will be utilized. The future will be enhanced by software with PACE (presentability, accountability, customizability, and extensibility) characteristics.
Research has shown that the era of pervasive technology has very significant implications for higher education. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents from the public and private sectors say that technological innovation will have a major impact on teaching methodologies over the next five years (Consortium & Glenn, 2008). ???Technology allows students to become much more engaged in constructing their own knowledge, and cognitive studies show that ability is key to learning success,??? says New York City-based Queens College vice-president of institutional advancement, Susan Henderson.
Presentability is how the software appeals to the user. For e-learning students having three-dimensional graphics, enhanced stereo sound, and interactive devices that students can control and manipulate are all necessary elements of successful software.
To enhance the appeal of the learning process, Software should also have varied presentation modes so it can be used the three ways people teach and learn: as a whole-class discussion to introduce ideas and concepts; with several users to support cooperative learning groups; and as individualized instruction, adapting to the needs and level of each user (this has been accomplished by online classrooms like WebTycho and Blackboard).
Accountability is the second essential component of PACE. Evaluations of student work and course progress is what allows teachers to provide individual assistance and encouragement. This type of accountability was showcased with AMBA 640 for the three LRE??™s. Without some type of evaluation and objective accountability, educational software is useless.
Customizability is the third essential element of sound educational software. Educational Technology should be malleable in the hands of the teacher so that it can be individualized to suite the needs for the different students.
Extensibility is the final component of the PACE essentials for educational software. Software that is extensible is easy to augment, easy to take beyond its own environment, and supportive of the creation of new things. Recent surveys with business conclude that the most desirable traits in new employees are effective communication, ability to work with others, leadership, flexibility and maturity, resourcefulness, inquisitiveness, and the ability to learn. Software with the PACE characteristics supports the development of these very traits.
Future of Educational Technology
The future of educational technology is consists of, but not limited to: 2 Way Communication (We the Media via blog and podcast), Social Learning (Facebook + Ning + Wiki), Hands On Learning + Virtual Project Management, Mobile and iPhone (Handheld), Fundamental cultural and generational shift (Digital Natives), Real time distance learning (Skype + Oovoo and Wimba), Findability for academic content, and Entirely new communication + interaction + business models (Top Future Trends in Educational Technology and E-learning, 2009). Because online learning is gaining a firm foothold in universities around the world. More than two-thirds of respondents from academia say that their institutions offer online courses. Many of them, especially those with a public-service mandate, consider online learning key to advancing their mission, placing advanced education within reach of people who might otherwise not be able to access it (Consortium & Glenn, 2008).
There are three major reasons why e-learning will continue to grow in the future: (1) the economy has tanked. Most companies are trying to achieve cost savings using e-learning technologies (i.e. online training courses, Intranet modules). (2) Students make more of a conscious effort make better use of their money and time; they will find ways to take advantage of e-learning opportunities. (3) Green initiatives for corporations will also create a need for e-learning. Educational researchers have found that ???Technology has had??”and will continue to have??”a significant impact on higher education??? (Consortium & Glenn, 2008). Nearly two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents from both the public and private sectors say that technological innovation will have a major influence on teaching methodologies over the next five years. In fact, technology will become a core differentiator in attracting students and corporate partners (Consortium & Glenn, 2008).
(2009, June 5). Retrieved September 10, 2010, from Top Future Trends in Educational Technology and E-learning: http://compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/top-future-trends-in-e-learning-and-educational-technology/
Consortium, T. N., & Glenn, M. (2008). The future of higher education. Retrieved September 10, 2010, from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/Future-of-Higher-Ed-%28NMC%29.pdf