2008 Trends in Technology What our 21st Century Students will face.
Everywhere we turn, we are faced with new advances in information and technology and how we consume or contribute to these. Good Morning America is using Google Maps to animate where the latest hurricane is hitting. NTV is asking for stories and pictures from viewers to share on “The Community Correspondent.” Oprah has 3 live conversations of remote hosts via Skype. CNN is posting back-channel chats live as the news rolls on. Presidential candidate Barack Obama sends us regionally appropriate and timely updates of campaign news to our mobile devices. We are surrounded with an ever growing mountain of information and technology is the only way to sort through it all!
I believe these topics will be a few of the most important technology topics teachers can get acquainted with to better prepare our students for what they will face when they graduate.
Motion & Animation
Programming & Scripting
Communication & Collaboration
User Controlled Environments
Programs such as Google Earth and Google Sketchup will give you a feel for what it is like to navigate in a 3D modeling environment. We are so used to working in a 2D paper society, it is hard for us as educators to envision this type of world. I really like Google Earth because we have all used and touched a globe before. We know how it moves and what should happen when we apply motion to it.
Writing, drawing, pictures… these are the medium in which we have communicated for thousands of years. We now have the tools to take these objects and bring them to life with motion. With applications such as Animation-ish from Fablevision, we can start introducing students to basic motion and animation at a very young age extending all the way through their education.
I am going to go out on a limb and generalize when I say most people think of programming a computer as a geeky, computer scientist, brain surgery skill level activity that only the brightest students can handle. A new wave of programming languages are popping up aimed at all age groups and all curricular areas. Most are based on the premise of teaching logic but also have the ability to tell digital stories, build games, explore new concepts, and manipulate and build dynamic, interactive media. With programs like Scratch from MIT and Alice from Carnagie Mellon U, we all have the opportunity to have fun programming.
This area has exploded with the advent of the “Web 2.0” tools available to us as educators. Social Networks have taken our students lives by storm. MySpace and Facebook are a perfect example of how students are using online communications to its fullest. Tools like Skype are bringing remote presenters and experts into our classrooms on a daily basis. Google docs allows us to share documents online in real-time for group collaboration and idea sharing. Web sites such as iEarn are global project sharing sites getting students and educators together all over the globe. The Internet is just beginning to show how the whole world is available to us if we want it.
We cannot foresee what our technology landscape will look like in 20 years. With the growth of information and technology, it’s anyone’s guess. But be sure, mobile devices will become more prevalent and more connected to the “grid.” We already see more and more student acquiring mobile phones and at younger and younger ages. What does this mean for education and how we communicate with our students? Mobile phones, iPods and MP3 players, PSP’s and other handheld gaming units are already showing us a glimpse of what is to come.
Virtual worlds, games and other user controlled environments are coming on the scene with more and more veracity. It’s hard for us to imagine these environments and how our students can spend so much time and money on them. Our minds are just transitioning from concrete music CDs and movie DVDs to virtual forms of the same information in mediums such as iTunes and Youtube. The idea of spending real money for virtual environments such as Second Life will take some time but it is already happening. Webkinz is even becoming more and more popular with younger children. And this experience of having control of your own online personality has an appeal to our students. They get to succeed or fail on their own, virtually!
These are just a few of the techno trends happening in our world. Our students are already participating and now we need to help them find relevance and rigor as they assess these tools for their own use.