Education Technology Trends
Cyberlearning Research Report Peeks into Future of Ed Tech
- By Dian Schaffhauser
People researching education technology and learning science — cyberlearning — populate the landscape. A new report from the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning has undertaken the ambitious project of sifting through what those researchers are exploring to uncover the major trends and help us understand where education — pre-K-12 and post-secondary — may be headed over the next decade or two.
According to "Cyberlearning Community Report: The State of Cyberlearning and the Future of Learning with Technology," this work stretches beyond research on whether 1-to-1 programs work or if gaming can accelerate improved learning outcomes. Among the questions those hundreds of research projects are attempting to answer are these: How will students "use their bodies and minds to learn what will be important in the 21st century, such as collaboration, scientific argumentation, mathematical reasoning, computational thinking, creative expression, design thinking and civic engagement?" "How can learning with technology expand access, equity and depth of learning across diverse people, institutions and settings?" And "What advances in computation and technology are needed to design, develop and analyze innovative learning experiences?"
From an analysis of the research, six broad themes surfaced:
- Community mapping: The use of mobile, geospatial tools for learning in a local context, such as the immediate neighborhood;
- Expressive construction: Using technology to create and share and, while creating, to learn;
- Classrooms as digital performance spaces: Converting the typical classroom into a room where physical learning experiences take place;
- Virtual peers and coaches: Avatars and other forms of artificial intelligence that interact with the student and provide a "natural, welcoming learning environment";
- Remote scientific labs: Students control remote scientific equipment;
- Enhancing collaboration and learning through touchscreen interfaces: The expansion in the use of multitouch interfaces on tabletop, tablet and mobile devices.
The report examines each in detail, profiles promising examples of research projects and describes how the work might contribute to education in the future, as well as its challenges and opportunities.
For statistics enthusiasts, the report also explains the three primary research methods in use: multimodal analysis, learning analytics, and user- and community-centered design.
Innovations in computer science and learning science are laid out for each theme and research method. And several essays explore broader issues regarding cyberlearning research, such as the use of big data and broadening "inclusive learning."
Jeremy Roschelle, executive director of learning sciences research at Digital Promise Global, and the lead editor on the project, suggested that the report explains how cyberlearning "looks to the future," offering "big ideas" that will serve as "guideposts" for learning technology innovations "that go far beyond what we have today." On top of that, he added in a blog post, it highlights advances in scientific methods "that can drive this work forward," such as combining multiple data streams to study how people learn and involving learners and educators "in the design of learning."
The report is openly available on the Center for Innovative Research in Cyber Learning website.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.