This blog post is written by Katie Ross, Education Director of Liberal Studies at Full Sail University.
Emerging technology is often defined as a form of technology that exists, is slowly adapting into our everyday lives, or is on the cusp of development and will be moving into our environments within the next 5-7 years. We often think of emerging technology as drones delivering packages or robots taking over our jobs. When in fact, emerging technology is the use of 3D printers, artificial intelligence (AI), and something as simple as home automation. Within the education environment, emerging technology connects to the use of big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality tools to enhance the student experience.
Imagine a world where a student’s schedule was automatically developed based on needed courses for graduation or pairing learning patterns with compatible teachers to place students in appropriate courses with the use of AI. Big Data Made Simple found that these types of big data systems already exist at many schools and are being used to provide specific scholarships, track attendance, and enhance the curriculum. Georgia State University reported an increase in retention rates after implementing a data analytics system. While emerging technology might seem scary or unfamiliar to those in education, the power behind these tools and devices are already showing promising results.
According to Gartner, the expected number of VR and AR applications is 60 percent by 2021 with an estimated 15 million educational users expected by 2025. With VR named the next futuristic technology, educators and administrators are seeking information on how to leverage this form of technology to enhance learning and content delivery (Lee, Sergueeva, Catangui, & Kandaurova, 2017). As emerging technology slowly moves into the education section, understanding the level of knowledge teachers, curriculum designers, and leaders have about the technology plays an important role in the implementation of the tools in the learning setting (Chang, Zhang, & Jin, 2016; Kim & Ke, 2016). For example, one can be amazing at designing a curriculum; however, if they do not understand how to design a virtual learning environment, or utilize AI to support students, how will faculty and staff be able to leverage the technology to enhance the college experience?
Shelton (2018) conducted an ecological study to understand better how faculty members at a university think about technology. In a qualitative study, faculty were evaluated to understand how the use of technology outside of the classroom impacted how they viewed and used technology in higher education. The faculty reported feeling pressure to keep up with technology, and anxiety over losing control over course materials. Conversely, faculty responded that they saved money by introducing tools into their classroom, for example, using the learning management system to host documents instead of printing papers or facilitating video conferencing instead of traveling to campus.
As the knowledge gap between technology users and non-users continues to shrink through the exposure of various devices and other interactions with advanced technology, leaders and decision-makers should create opportunities to expose faculty and staff to the various positive impacts technology can have. The environment connected to emerging technology should foster excitement and discussion. Faculty members who have implemented technology within their curriculum highlight the roles department managers, colleagues, and students have played in their adoption of technology (Shelton, 2018).
Three tips to increase the perception of technology:
- Help those that might be fearful of technology or have not experienced it, take the opportunity to create a conversation about the possibilities of a particular piece of technology. For example, use a few minutes before each department meeting to brainstorm ways that AI can increase student support.
- Make a few calls around campus to schedule a tour of the 3D printer lab or another area of campus that is pushing the boundaries in education.
- Schedule a team field trip to play with emerging technology at a local science center or museum that utilizes devices to heighten the guest experience.
Ultimately, we should all be working together to increase technological awareness in education to enhance its advancement and ensure education is meeting the needs of current and future learners.
Chang, Q-X., Zhang, H-A., & Jin, X-X. (2016). Application of virtual reality technology in distance learning. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning, 11(11), 76-79. doi:10.3991/ijet.v11i11.6257
Kim, H., & Ke, F. (2016). OpenSim-supported virtual learning environment: Transformative content representation, facilitation, and learning activities. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 54(2), 147-172.
Lee, S., Sergueeva, K., Catangui, M., & Kandaurova, M. (2017). Assessing google cardboard virtual reality as a content delivery system in business classrooms. Journal of Education for Business, 4(92), 153-160. doi: 10.1080/08832323.2017.1308308
Shelton, C. (2018). An ecological model for university faculty members’ thinking about technology. Journal of Computing in Higher Education. 30(2). doi:10.1007/s12528-018-9168-2
Katie Ross is a passionate educator who brings over ten years of experience to her role in higher education. From her years in education to her current doctoral work, she has a sound understanding of how to create a cohesive student experience through technology and cross-collaboration efforts.