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The advent of technologies such as advanced computing and telecommunications has qualitatively affected learning (Ally, 2009). Learning processes in classrooms have become significantly efficient as students have access to new and various types of information. These technologies have enabled students to manipulate information in a way that was impossible previously and send assignments using a different media to their teachers, other students in the next classroom or around the world (Balacheff & Ludvigsen, 2009). Moreover, technology has increasingly facilitated research among students and learning institutions. For example, the internet is a significant source of information that contains demographic and environmental data that can be used for various researches (Banister, 2008). Similarly, rather than reading books to get information, students and their lectures or teachers use technologies that can store information for further retrieval. It is known through everyday experience of educators, students, and their families that efficient deployment of technologies can enable students to achieve their educational goals, enhance teachers’ skills and knowledge, and improve the institution's administration and management. Thus, the new term “emergent technologies” has occurred, which is a concept used to refer to latest technological inventions, which many learning institution are on the verge of utilizing (Hansson, 2008). Examples of emergent learning technologies include mobile learning and Web 2.0 technologies. With many learning institutions going hi-tech, this paper elucidates on various types of emergent learning technologies.
Mobile learning refers to learning using transportable technologies such as, but not limited to, computers, MP3 players, notebooks, and mobile phones (Hansson, 2008). Mobile learning emphasizes on the ability of the learner to move and interact with portable technologies. These technologies were launched to accommodate the society and institutions, which are always mobile. Instructors or teachers in mobile learning are not limited to a single station. The deployment of mobile tools for making learning materials and aides contributes substantially to informal learning. Mobile learning becomes handy in that its accessibility is not limited to a one place (Hokyoung Ryu, 2008). It is also collaborative since it allows instantaneous sharing among every user of the same content.
The small and portable storage devices having modified learning contents are quickly replacing books and notes. Moreover, mobile learning comes with a lot of simplicity and efficiency, which makes it easy to utilize. Some educationists affirm that mobile learning reach where other learning has not touched because it empowers and engages learners to seek information (Huffacker, 2005). Another research points out that learners engaging in private or personal subjects prefer using mobile learning rather than traditional one. This is because the technologies used can be modified to suit private needs by enhancing network security of the devices used.
Mobile learning has two salient aspects, namely safe learning and disruptive learning. Safe learning is what individuals perceive upon discovering mobile learning. Learners of this category use mobile devices that have educational content. Safe learning is extremely effective when it allows accessibility to learning contents, which are difficult to represent. Disruptive learning is a more personalized approach that is concerned about personal mobile devices and skills (Huffacker, 2005). The learner using this approach has control of the devices and process. Instead of being only an active consumer of learning material, the leaner becomes the producer, collaborator, researcher, and publisher. Apparently, safe learning facilitates consumption of learning materials, whereas disruptive learning emphasizes on production of learning materials.
Mobile learning emerged presenting a platform only to minor researches, but with time it has begun to be used for carrying out significant projects in schools, museums, workplaces, and cities around the world. The active users of mobile learning are disjointed, having different national opinions on academia and industry (Motteram & Sharma, 2009). Testing, surveys, job aids, and Just-In-Time (JIT) learning are the current areas that have registered the highest growth of mobile learning. Social networked, mobile educational gaming and location-based learning sectors have also denoted some growth of mobile learning. According to Ambient Insight’s report, the demand for mobile learning services and products tends to increase at a rate of approximately 21% every five years. This rate indicates that the market for these products is comparatively resistant to the recession.
Web 2.0 refers to web applications that allow participatory interoperability, information sharing, and collaboration of user-centered frameworks on the World Wide Web (mackinney, Dyck, & Luber, 2008). Web 2.0 enables users to interact and collaborate in social media as designers of the produced content in a computer-generated community. This contrasts to websites where users interact with each other as passive consumers of the content created to them. Web 2.0 comprises of blogs, video sharing sites, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, and web applications. Among the elements of web 2.0, wikis and blogs are the principal ones used in education (Vavoula, Pachler, & Kukulska-Hulme, 2009).
Wikis refers to websites that allow adding, editing and deleting contents. Wikis are collaborative on the side of the various authors (Murphy & Lebans, 2008). The Wikipedia is well-recognized educational instance of web 2.0, which is an online encyclopedia. Noteworthy, majority of the contributors to wikis are moderators that control posting and deletion of information. This is done to polish information and enhance the relevance of information prior to it being acknowledged as a part of the main work (Motteram & Sharma, 2009). Wiki provides a learning environment that is different from the traditional online learning by encouraging both the student and the teacher to learn together. In this environment, knowledge is exchanged since each person contributes by offering what he/she knows. This results into a special form of learning referred to as peer-to-peer learning.
Some unethical users of wikis might intentionally post ill-informed, downright abusive or poorly studied information or delete information from wikis (Huffacker, 2005). Wikis are self-moderated to deter these unethical behaviors. This implies that infringement of etiquette is instantly detected and corrected or discussed. Quite a large number of wikis are open to the public, and any user can edit them. Other users who feel concerned may correct misinformation by deleting the unwanted content. Other wikis require that users should register to join the contributors, which acts as an obstacle to irresponsible behavior (Huffacker, 2005).
Blogs refer to websites created by an individual or a group for posting texts, photographs, audio files or links (Huffacker, 2005). The postings are not daily or on a regular basis. Another term related to blogs is blogging. It refers to authoring or maintaining a blog and adding articles to the blog. Personal articles on the blog are called entries, blog posts or simply posts. Presently, millions of blogs, which are unimportant and uninteresting, are in existence. However, there are many serious blogs that are formed from a professional point of view and are entwined by a consensus. Blogs have wider application in learning as tools for students’ personal classifieds and staff professional development portfolios. Some learning institutions overwhelmingly use blogs for evaluating teachers’ personal obligation to their profession. As an emerging technology in education, blogs are used for courseware development private learning (Hokyoung Ryu, 2008). Some educationists assert that blogs are potent future avenue for content in electronic portfolio. Blogs are extremely significant in that they are viewed as small parts of “blogosphere.” Web aggregator services join all professional blogs. The aggregator services notify professionals of each other’s postings, which might result into a debate or an agreement as each blog member adds to the total opinion. Blogs are widely used in the US, though it is comparatively an emerging medium for teaching (Hokyoung Ryu, 2008).
RSS and Aggregators
Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is a collection of web feed formats for publishing works that are updated frequently (Ally, 2009). RSS also refers to the blog media that are involved in photos, video, and audio created by XML code that uses syndication technology. RSS overwhelmingly underpins substantial flow of information on the web. The RSS has gone through various iterations and schisms in order to become a media that can disseminate private, dynamic information speedily and easily. With these advantages, it has become synonymous to news and information distribution (Huffacker, 2005). An aggregator is a web service that searches and displays the relevant content and archives. To some extent, an aggregator can play the contents on the end user’s computer. The iTunes software is an example of web aggregator that searches music and other media content. RSS is likely to emerge as learning technology because as the teaching proficiency grows, demand for cheap and efficient distribution media also grows. RSS is also likely to be adopted as a learning technology because syndicated educational content might create future prospects of resourcing (Murphy & Lebans, 2008).
Podcasts, Vlogs, and Moblogs
Podcasting refers to audio broadcasting over the World Wide Web, and it is the most recognized emergent technology. Technological research affirms that podcasting technologies were in existence for some years, however, the advent of RSS spurred online broadcast of audio content to wider and specialized group (Balacheff & Ludvigsen, 2009). In the UK, the use of podcasts in education is still developing. Vlogs or videologs are used to post and update video content. Vlogs are still extremely insignificant in education, but new software and web services are likely to encourage their use. Moblogs or mobile logs refer to blogs having photos that are taken and uploaded by mobile phones. The deployment of Moblog technology in education is seen to be used in some learning projects that are still under trial (Banister, 2008).
In conclusion, emergent technologies are a concept used to refer to latest technological inventions, which many learning institution are on the verge of utilizing. Web 2.0 and mobile learning technologies are examples of emerging learning technologies. Web 2.0 comprises of blogs, video sharing sites, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, and web applications. Mobile learning has two key aspects, namely safe learning and disruptive learning. Blogs refer to websites created by an individual or a group for posting texts, photographs, audio files or links. Wikis are websites which allow adding, editing, and deleting contents. RSS also refers to the blog media that are involved in photos, video, and audio created by XML code that uses syndication technology. Notably, these emerging technologies are likely to influence learning in many institutions by improving research and increasing efficiency.