Monthly Archives: April 2014

International ICT Education Trend

Extending the Reach of High Quality P-12 Education through ICT: An International Trend

by Mark Sivy

Realizing that a well-educated populace is essential for boosting national prosperity and competitiveness in an international economy, top-level education departments and ministries around the world are now focused on ensuring that their P-12 curricula and instruction are adjusted to modern standards. This task involves ensuring that learners have the specific skills, literacies, knowledge, and expertise that will ensure their success in the global marketplace. A crucial piece in accomplishing this, both in terms of learning outcomes and instructional delivery, is ICT (Information, Communications and Technology).

One-to-One InitiativeAs a driver of learning outcomes, ICT has played an important role in the development of new international curricular strategies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been at the forefront of providing a basis for the remodeling and modernization of teaching, learning and curriculum, with ICT being a significant consideration. Even though established as a US K-12 education initiative, the organization’s recommendations have global relevance and implications. One of the major categories found within the Partnership’s renowned publication, P21 Framework Definitions document, was created in response to the fact that we live in a global environment that is infused with and dependent upon technology and media. This portion of the document offers the following guidelines for the knowledge, skills, and expertise that student should possess as a result of the learning process:

Information Literacy

  • Access and Evaluate Information
    • Access information efficiently (time) and effectively (sources)
    • Evaluate information critically and competently
  • Use and Manage Information
    • Use information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand
    • Manage the flow of information from a wide variety of sources
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information

Media Literacy

  • Analyze Media
    • Understand both how and why media messages are constructed, and for what purposes
    • Examine how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded, and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media
  • Create Media Products
    • Understand and utilize the most appropriate media creation tools, characteristics and conventions
    • Understand and effectively utilize the most appropriate expressions and interpretations in diverse, multicultural environments

ICT Literacy

  • Apply Technology Effectively
    • Use technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information
    • Use digital technologies (computers, PDAs, media players, GPS, etc.), communication/networking tools and social networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information to successfully function in a knowledge economy
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information technologies

21st Centure LearningAs a medium for instructional delivery, ICT plays another significant role in the modernization of international education systems. One of the challenges in many countries has been the provision of a quality and equal education to all children regardless of their circumstances. Around the world, ICT infrastructures are being updated and expanded to provide Internet access to both urban and rural destinations and recipients. Additionally, these schools and learners are being provided with devices to receive educational web content that has been specifically designed and developed by subject matter experts, master teachers, and instructional designers who are highly specialized in e-learning and the variety of learning devices. Of particular interest and development are mobile learning, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and other one-to-one initiatives. These will be examined in future posts.

Reflection Point – M-learning is the intersection of mobile computing and e-learning, that includes anytime, anywhere resources; strong search capabilities; rich interaction; powerful support for effective learning; and performance-based assessment. ~Clark Quinn

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Virtual Reality…For Education?

The Latest in Virtual Reality Gear

by Mark Sivy

The notion of virtual reality can be traced back to 1938 when Antonin Artaud, a French playwright, actor and director, used it in a book written to describe theater. Later, in the 1970s, Myron Krueger coined the term “artificial reality” in reference to the interaction between humans and computers. Historically, this concept of having a virtual session within a computer-generated 3D simulated environment has been nothing more than an exercise in science fiction for the masses. Even though the virtual reality (VR) systems that enable this type of experience have been available for decades, their price tags and technological requirements have been enormous. Then came the recent introduction of the wearable VR device that attaches to a personal computer.

<img src="image.gif" alt="Oculus Rift" />

Oculus Rift

The media forerunner in this has been the Oculus Rift, which is a consumer-targeted virtual reality head-mounted display that is expected to be released in final version near the end of 2014. It made headlines recently when it was announced that the parent company, Oculus VR, was purchased by Facebook in March 2014. The current developer kit version of the Rift is available for $300 US. Similar personal computer-connected systems are under development by other companies such as the Sony Morpheus, True Player Gear Totem, Avegant Glyph, GameFace Mark IV, and Durovis Dive, thus we can anticipate a flood of this very highly anticipated technology into the marketplace during the next couple of years. Presently these systems are primarily being designed for either immersive gaming or for movie entertainment, but other uses of the system are certainly possible and are being considered.

<img src="image.gif" alt="Durovis Dive" />

Durovis Dive

<img src="image.gif" alt="True Player Gear" />

True Player Gear

<img src="image.gif" alt="Sony Morpheus" />

Sony Morpheus

How Can They Be Used for Education?

Imagine the advantages that these VR options would have for education. The levels of engagement, interactivity, collaboration, presence and visualization that these devices will offer can certainly be leveraged to the advantage of learning. In a recent Wired article, Brian Shuster discussed the likelihood of using virtual world environments for educational purposes. Even the Oculus Rift creator, Palmer Luckey, envisions educational uses of his creation in an article in Gamespot. In anticipation of the educational uses of VR, East Carolina University in North Carolina had established the Virtual Reality and Education Laboratory in 1992 and the university currently offers a concentration in VR within their Education Master’s degree program.

Reflection Point: Virtual reality is a medium, a means by which humans can share ideas and experiences. ~ Alan B. Craig

 

Why Educational Technology?

Educational Technology

by Mark Sivy

Having worked over 25 years with technologies used for education and now having completed a doctorate with a specialization in instructional systems technology, I felt the need to reflect upon my experiences and to recalibrate myself within this field. The question is, what IS this field?

After reading through multitudes of definitions and perspectives on educational technology and related terms such as instructional technology and instructional systems technology, I’ve come to an overarching conclusion. In this age of information overload, with a wealth of inconsistent information coming from well-intentioned individuals who probably are not subject matter experts, I firmly believe it is essential to have reputable organizations setting standards that serve as reference points. In the case of educational technology, I turned my attention to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT). The AECT, which had its beginning in 1923, is the most widely recognized international educational technology professional organization and it’s been maintaining terminology and definitions for decades.

So to define the field of educational technology, I refer to the definition released by the AECT (2008):

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

From my perspective, I see some crucial elements in this definition that fit my personal beliefs and interests:

  • Study. The desire to add theory and research-based scaffolding to my work was the primary driving force in seeking my doctorate. I strongly believe that study should be an integral component in any educational pursuits that involve change or adaptation.
  • Ethical Practice. I consider this phrase in the sense of following accepted rules or standards of professional conduct in ensuring intended outcomes. This doesn’t mean discarding creativity and innovation by following rigid guidelines, but rather means that one is prudent, cautious, and responsible in the selection and use of technology. I’ve seen too many cases where technology was used in education because it was a desirable current trend rather than because a well-documented need existed and a well-informed decision was made to use technology to address it.
  • Appropriate Technological Processes and Resources. Even with a recognized need as a driver, carrying out the implementation of a technology has often not been strategically and completely planned. This can result in a lack of buy-in, teaching and learning issues, improper or insufficient support, and funding shortfalls. From my experience, I recommend using a comprehensive project approach such as agile project management.

In the end, I see educational technology as a technology that has been selected and used based upon educational theory, research, and practice, with the intention of integrating technology skills and technological literacy into the curriculum and learning. I view instructional technology (technology as a teaching and learning tool) and instructional systems technology (designing, developing, and managing technology-related processes, policy, infrastructure, organization systems, and services in an educational environment) as subsets of educational technology.

Reflection Point: Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event. ~Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Reference:

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2008). Definition. In A. Januszewski and M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational Technology: A definition with commentary. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.