Are we trend setters or chasers?

The New Media Consortium will release its 2012 K-12 Edition of the Horizon Report next month. I’ve read this with great interest over past years as it identifies and describes emerging technologies which will impact on education over the next 1-5 years.

If you’re interested, you can read through the Horizon Project preview – it predicts that mobiles and apps as well as tablet computing be adopted in a year or less. Within two to three years, game based learning and personal learning environments should be adopted across K-12.  And within four to five years augmented reality and natural user interfaces will be the tools of choice for students and teachers.

For many educators, the use of technology is a significant leap in practice but for others, the future is already here. The emerging trends raises an interesting question for me: do we need to institute core competencies for teachers around use of technologies in the learning space?  The answer to this is probably dependent on your worldview of schooling, its purpose and processes.  If you see schools in an industrial model, you’ll have a certain response.  If you are pushing the boundaries and exposing students to emerging technology, you’ll have a different response.  Too often however, we take the default position of limit and control.

This question has been at the front of my mind this week ahead of my keynote and participation in a debate on BYOD at the Technology in K-12 Education National Congress 2012. I find it interesting that in light of the Horizon Report, we are still debating the pros and cons of BYOD in schools. Technology is only going to stretch us as educators as we look for ways of ensuring the tools can adequately support personalised learning.

I’m not sure if any of the local readers have seen a series of stamps released by Australia Post  titled ‘Now and Then’.  These stamps depict how the ‘technological revolution has touched the daily lives of most Australians’ from phone boxes to mobiles  from record players to iPods.  What I noticed when I saw these stamps was the relatively seamless transition of technology into our daily lives – yet it hasn’t occured in every school environment.

If you think back to the seventies, there was little difference between home and school ‘technology’.  For example, if you had a colour TV at home and a cassette player, you would probably find these in most classrooms.  Enter the digital revolution and the gap begins to widen between home and school.  Most households today have multiple devices, we’re connected to the web and we can access learning anytime, anywhere on any device yet in many schools the devices are limited or they are not being used to deepen student learning and thinking.  We’re hesitant about building connections or embracing the opportunities of online learning.

This is Prof Stephen Heppell talking four years ago about the role of emerging technologies.  Will we still be having the same conversation in four years time or will game based learning and augmented reality be the norm?  To quote Heppell ‘if you’re an eleven year old today, you’ve only ever experienced life in the 21st century and you’re probably hearing this debate around technology and 21st century learning and thinking get on with it already – an eighth of the century is already gone!’

In the not too distant future, we have become trend setters not trend chasers.


4 thoughts on “Are we trend setters or chasers?

  1. Great article ….I would like to think we are all trend setters in some way… like the question Allan November poses…Who owns the learning in schools? And i think the next question we could explore is who owns the technology? The soon we hand over the technology and the learning to students the sooner we all become the ” learners” ….looking forward to you presentation today.

  2. Greg I think there may be some setting trends, some following and some not even aware of any trends. Some schools, districts and governments are so concerned with risk that they ignore possibilities and think in either/or terms. There is a clear move to mobile technology. Perhaps by 2020 we will be focusing on WYOD (wear your own device) as we move closer to the internet of things. That will create a wider gap for some.

    1. Cheryl, thanks for the comments – I think your 2020 prediction could be correct. Minimising risk should not be at the expense of limiting possibilities for students!

  3. Getting beyond the barrier of ‘control’ and fear of the global conversation is our greatest challenge. Just listened to both Stephen Heppell and Allan November at ACSP conference the last two days, and going back with determination to find solutions to perception of BYOD ‘problems’. Convinced it can be done.

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