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Many online educators are searching for platforms that are relevant and agile. In the end, agility is maintained via flexible management.  In other words, instructors should be allowed to choose from the tools they prefer in an e-learning ecosystem so that they can configure their own e-learning environment.  Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) may enable educators to have this flexible management in the e-learning environment.

LTI is designed to allow plug-and-play integration of instructional applications within educational platforms, such as LMS.  LTI is an open specification created by IMS Global Learning Consortium.  Before the introduction of LTI, connecting custom learning applications with a learning management system (LMS) was complicated and often expensive.  To accomplish this connection, an organization’s IT department had to assign or hire a developer to integrate each application with the LMS.  This process consumed a great deal of time and had to be revisited with each update of the application or LMS.  Conversely, it is easier to get the tools and platforms to work together (i.e., interoperability) if the LMSs and applications conform to the LTI specifications with their application programming interfaces (APIs).

Currently, most LMSs allow third-party applications to integrate with the platform, but the APIs used by each LMS are different (e.g., Blackboard versus Canvas).  For example, a vendor making an application for video editing would need to develop several APIs for their application so that it could connect with the various LMSs.  By contrast, LTI creates a common API that can be employed by any LMS or application developer.  This common API allows applications to be rapidly deployed within a LMS without hiring experts to make this connection.

More than 100 universities and colleges are actively engaged with LTI, and Western Governor’s University (WGU) is a prime example.  Initially, WGU tried to integrate a variety of learning tools with their LMS, and each tool required separate development.  After standardizing to LTI integration, WGU was able to write a single program to make all of the resources interoperable with their LMS.  The creators of LTI, IMS Global, offer a variety of applications that are certified as being compliant with LTI specifications, including hundreds of tools and 18 platforms.  The applications developed for integration include any tool created to connect to a LMS: library resources, subject-specific tools, authoring tools, etc….

The learning environment becomes more dynamic when learning tools are easily integrated into campus platforms, especially LMS.  Adopting a common approach to interoperability promotes faster integration and lowers the cost.  Ultimately, the LTI approach may allow instructors to build do-it-yourself learning environments that dramatically alter the role of and relationship with IT specialists.  LTI may be the first step toward allowing teachers to create a vibrant and rich ecosystem that is relevant and agile.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2013, August). 7 things you should know about learning tools interoperability. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7099.pdf

The pedagogical model termed “flipped classrooms” refers to a scenario where homework and lectures are reversed. Typically, students come to class to hear lectures and then go home and complete the application of that lecture (e.g., homework).  In flipped classrooms, students watch a short video before coming to class, and when students come to class, they apply the lessons taught in the short video. This approach allows instructors to use time in class to build skills and for collaboration.

Educators are adopting this model anytime students watch or listen to lectures before coming to class and then do workshops in class. In one approach, teachers may actually set up a series of videos with intermittent quizzes to test knowledge acquisition. A series of videos may help to ensure that students have a certain level of knowledge before coming to class. While potentially helpful in all classes, this approach seems to have a great deal of potential for career and technical classes (CTE).

Career and technical instructors have struggled with e-learning because CTE classes demand that students spend time in workshops and laboratories to ensure they are applying theoretical knowledge. A hybrid approach seems to work well in CTE classes. Further, the flipped classroom is a technique that may help students be efficient and teachers be more effective.

In the traditional classroom, students often focus on transcribing lectures rather than understanding what is being said. A pre-class video format allows students to view the lecture material as many times as they need in order understand the material. Students that need extra time to understand material (i.e., accessibility issues) may find this approach very helpful. In addition, teachers may be able to detect errors more efficiently in this model because more class time is spent on the application of material. Collaboration and informal learning may also be facilitated in flipped classrooms.

The flipped model does require more preparatory work for both the teacher and student. Teachers must be very organized and sequential in this approach. Students must spend time viewing and reflecting on the videos before class. However, students may get frustrated if their technology equipment is slow or incapable of loading the videos (e.g., dial-up internet).

Moving the videos used in flipped classrooms to mobile devices makes this model even more attractive. Students could access lectures anytime, anywhere and just in time for training. Business and industry may actually begin to think about adopting this model for training incumbent workers. Ultimately, this model places more responsibility on students to learn material before class and affords them the opportunity to reflect on and apply this information on their own. Flipped classrooms allow students to master material rather than just being exposed to knowledge.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010a, January). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2010.

  • Next-Generation Presentation Tools.  Electronic presentations are evident at all levels of the educational arena, and new presentation tools are emerging that give teachers the ability to customize presentations in a way that more closely resembles new methods of learning and teaching.  Many of these tools use nonlinear sequencing or branching, which allows a teacher to take students’ questions and follow them through to finality without disturbing the sequence of the overall presentation.  Some of these new tools promote collaboration between authors.  These alternative presentation applications could cause educators to revisit the nature of information sharing and presentation (EDUCAUSE, 2010a).
  • Backchannel Communication.  The term backchannel communication refers to a secondary electronic conversation that occurs simultaneous to a lecture, learning activity, or conference session.  This form of communication takes place informally through applications such as Twitter or chat tools, but backchannel communication is formally being cast into the foreground by some educators.  These pioneers encourage students to interact with one another during activities or lectures; this communication occurs without disrupting the speaker (EDUCAUSE, 2010b).
  • E-Readers.  These electronic tools are high-resolution, low-power, and portable.  E-readers are designed to display written material in a digital format, such as newspapers or books.  Some of these devices allow users to access other electronic material (e.g., websites or blogs).  E-readers have the greatest potential to alter traditional approaches to the acquisition of content (i.e., buying a textbook).  These devices could also transform classroom interaction because students would have more real-time access to information through the Internet (EDUCAUSE, 2010c).
  • Analytics.  Analytics applications statistically evaluate data in order to discern patterns.  These tools allow organizations to make informed decisions and recommendations.  Schools can use this technology in order to inform financial decisions, tweak course offerings, and alter recruiting practices.  Analytics can also help colleges align resources with needs.  In addition, these tools could be used in LMS to provide meaningful data (EDUCAUSE, 2010d).
  • Mobile Apps for Learning.  Any educational interaction that takes place via mobile technology can be referred to as mobile learning (m-learning).  A variety of devices are available for m-learning, ranging from mobile phones to the iPad.  However, the most popular medium for m-learning is currently cell phones.  Mobile software applications allow students and teachers to access course content and a number of resources from any location that has the Internet; a large portion of this data can also be uploaded onto a mobile device, which eliminates the need for Internet access (EDUCAUSE, 2010e).
  • Open Educational Resources.  Resources that are available to the public at little or no cost are termed as open educational resources (OER).  A plethora of free educational material can be found on the Internet, including simulations, syllabi, tests, and textbooks.  OER provides access to instructional resources to a much larger group of learners.  Instructors can also choose components from OER to enhance their courses.  Extremists foresee a day when learners will construct their own courses from OER (EDUCAUSE, 2010f).
  • LMS Alternatives.  LMS currently serve as the primary platform for online education by providing a set of tools to deliver content and manage courses.  Emerging Web 2.0 applications now offer a host of applications that rival, if not surpass, the educational tools offered through LMS.  The new applications include social networking sites, document sharing tools, cloud-based media options, timeline tools, and social bookmarking sites.  Many educators are adopting these alternative tools because they teach students real-world skills that will be used in the workplace.  In this scenario, the LMS simply becomes a hub from which other applications can be accessed.  The new Web 2.0 tools also encourage active learning, effective collaboration, and student engagement (EDUCAUSE, 2010g).
  • Online Team-Based Learning.  Online team-based learning takes place when learners work in small groups to accomplish learning outcomes.  This approach shows a great deal of promise in online courses because the forum promotes social interaction in an environment that often lacks this crucial element.  This method often emphasizes the learning process rather than the final outcome, especially as it relates to assessment (EDUCAUSE, 2010h).
  • Online Media Editing.  Anyone with a suitable computer and Internet access can edit graphics, audio, and video using cloud-based media editing tools.  These Web 2.0  applications offer several advantages, including the flexibility to work on any machine or platform; in addition, these tools are usually free or inexpensive.  Open access to these online editing applications helps to promote equal opportunity for all learners to use the same technology tools.  These applications are also user-friendly, so educators can devise a number of ways to incorporate new kinds of activites in almost all disciplines (EDUCAUSE, 2010i).
  • The HyFlex Course Model.  The HyFlex course design model offers the elements of a hybrid class (i.e., a combination of online and traditional) in a flexible manner that allows students the option of participating online, attending class, or choosing both.  In this model, teachers offer course material in a traditional and online format, while students choose their learning preference for each meeting.  However, this model is not self-paced.  Ultimately, the point of the HyFlex approach is to eliminate the barrier between the physical and virtual classroom.  This model promotes a more customized learning environment (EDUCAUSE, 2010j).
  • Android.  Android is an open-source operating system created for use in mobile phones, tablet computers, e-readers, and similar mobile devices.  Android is owned by Google and integrates well with Google applications such as Google Calendar and Gmail.  In addition, Android allows smart phone users to seamlessly access social networking sites.  A large number of free applications exist for the Android.  Android and similar mobile operating systems make mobile learning and teaching practical.  At this point, these tools promote information gathering (e.g., listening to a lecture) better than information creation (e.g., writing a paper).  Interconnectivity between smart phones, the Internet, and personal computers allows individuals to work with others and easily share content (EDUCAUSE, 2010k).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010a, January). 7 things you should know about next-generation presentation tools. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7056.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010b, February). 7 things you should know about backchannel communication. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7057.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010c, March). 7 things you should know about e-readers. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7058.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010d, April). 7 things you should know about analytics. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7059.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010e, May). 7 things you should know about mobile apps for learning. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7060.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010f, June). 7 things you should know about open educational resources. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7061.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010g, July). 7 things you should know about LMS alternatives. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7062.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010h, August). 7 things you should know about online team-based learning. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7063.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010i, October). 7 things you should know about online media editing. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7065.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010j, November). 7 things you should know about the HyFlex course model. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7066.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2010k, December). 7 things you should know about Android. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7067.pdf

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2009.

  • Alternate reality games (ARGs).  This application intertwines real objects with puzzles and hints that are virtually hidden anywhere (e.g., stores, movies, Websites, or printed materials).  The ARGs are the devices used to gather clues.  These games facilitate creative problem solving using real-world scenarios and materials (EDUCAUSE, 2009a).
  • QR Codes.  These codes are bar codes that are two-dimensional.  QR codes feature both alphanumeric characters and a URL that links consumers directly to a Website that describes or gives information about a product.  Individuals could scan a QR code on a product with their mobile phone and gather a great deal of information on that product quickly (EDUCAUSE, 2009b).
  • Location Aware Applications.  Applications using location-aware technology can provide online content to individuals based on physical location.  These applications can also send an individual’s location to a third party, such as a friend or teacher.  Location-based information can enhance learning.  Scientific information, historical narratives, and interactive geographic content are examples of how educaotrs can use this tool (EDUCAUSE, 2009c).
  • Live question tool.  This Web-based application allows participants in a presentation to post questions for the lecturer.  As participants post questions, fellow participants can share remarks and vote on what questions they would like to see addressed.  This technology gives lecturers constructive feedback upon which they may choose to alter their presentation (EDUCAUSE, 2009d).
  • Personal Learning Environment.  A personal learning environment (PLE) is a scenario in which individuals direct their own learning through personalized tools, services, and communities.  A PLE is best understood in contrast to an LMS.  A PLE is “learner-centric,” while a LMS is “course-centric.” However, PLE and LMS are not necessarily exclusive of one another because a learner can choose to include several elements of a LMS in his or her PLE.  The notion of a PLE alters the role of resources and stems from the idea that information is ubiquitous.  In a PLE, teachers place the emphasis on access to and assessment of information in addition to metacognition (EDUCAUSE, 2009e).
  • VoiceThread.  VoiceThread allows individuals to aggregate media into one Web site, including media contributions from guests and users.  Initially, a creator places an artifact (e.g., graphic) on the site.  The ensuing discussion about this artifact allows users to comment on the artifact using a variety of media (e.g, video, audio, or text).  Then they can view comments in an interactive manner.  Voicethread provides teachers and students with an avenue for presenting visual media in an interactive manner (EDUCAUSE, 2009f).
  • Microblogging.  Microblogging is a term referring to a small quantity of digital content users place on the Internet, such as links, short videos, pictures, text, or other media.  Twitter is probably the most popular microblogging site currently used.  In education, students often use microblogging for backchannel communication during a live class; teachers can also send notifications and reminders to students using this application.   (EDUCAUSE, 2009g).
  • Telepresence.  This complex application of video technologies allows geographically separated participants to feel as if everyone involved in the presentation were in the same location.  High-definition (HD) cameras send signals to HD displays that are life size, and high-fidelity acoustics localize the sound to each image in order to simulate the effect of each participant’s voice emanating from that participant’s respective display (EDUCAUSE, 2009h).
  • Collaborative annotation.  This tool broadens the notion of social bookmarking by permitting participants to move beyond merely sharing bookmarks by allowing each member to share annotations of a web page.  Collaborative annotations allow users to add notes that explain their ideas on a Web resource or highlight specific areas on the Web page (EDUCAUSE, 2009i).
  • Google Wave.  In Google Wave, a user creates an online space termed as a “wave.” The wave is simply a running document that is conversational, and contributors can offer isolated messages within a wave, which are called “blips.” Google wave can house an entire conversation in one location.  E-mail has been in existence for 40 years and remains virtually unchanged, so this web-based application attempts to redefine electronic communication.  Google Wave seems well-suited for PLE because it offers a single location for collecting data from a variety of sources and allows for an array of formats (EDUCAUSE, 2009j).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009a, January). 7 things you should know about alternative reality games. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7045.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009b, February). 7 things you should know about QR codes. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7046.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009c, March). 7 things you should know about location aware applications. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7047.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009d, April). 7 things you should know about live question tool. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7048.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009e, May). 7 things you should know about personal learning environment. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7049.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009f, June). 7 things you should know about VoiceThread. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7050.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009g, July). 7 things you should know about microblogging. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7051.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009h, September). 7 things you should know about telepresence. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7053.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009i, October). 7 things you should know about collaborative annotation. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7054.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009j, November). 7 things you should know about Google Wave. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7055.pdf

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2008.

  • Lulu.  Lulu provides tools to publish, print, and design original content.  Educators and students have the ability to publish content (e.g., reports, books, or posters) with nominal expense (EDUCAUSE, 2008a).
  • Flickr.  Anyone can upload, view, mark, or tag pictures on this photo-sharing website.  Flickr embodies many elements of Web 2.0 applications and relies on user content to promote community among consumers.  Users have the ability to provide a setting for developing relationships or shared events, and in order to help enhance relationships, groups can be formed (EDUCAUSE, 2008b).
  • Google apps.  This online suite of file storage and web-based programs operates within a web browser.  In Google Apps, individuals can share content by granting someone permission to view that content.  The ability to easily share content promotes peer review of material and collaboration.  The programs featured on Google Apps include productivity tools (e.g., word processor or spreadsheet), communication tools, (e.g., calendar or Google Talk) and web development tools (EDUCAUSE, 2008c).
  • Ning.  This online social networking application allows consumers to generate their own network or take part in another individual’s network.  Each creator is given the opportunity to completely personalize the functionality and appearance of the SNS.  This technology is similar to Facebook with the exception that users can create their own closed network.  Ning provides a neutral setting where teachers can harness the power of social networks, such as the promotion of a strong sense of community among a cohort of students (EDUCAUSE, 2008d).
  • Multi-touch interfaces.  These input devices distinguish various touches on the surface of the screen such as pinches, rotations, swipes, and other actions that facilitate instantaneous interface with digital content.  Multi-touch interfaces also allow several users to simultaneously collaborate with digital content (EDUCAUSE, 2008e).
  • Second Life.  Second Life is a modern day virtual world hosting over 13 million “residents,” a flourishing economy and a great deal of virtual land.  Consumers can create or alter virtual space with ease, and this scenario has encouraged experiments in creating space designs.  For example, Second Life often hosts virtual field trips or serves as a platform to display student media.  There are a number of social dynamics that promote teamwork and self-directed learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008f).
  • Wii.  This gaming console allows participants to interact with the game applications through physical gestures and movement.  Academic researchers have employed this technology to create applications such as an interactive whiteboard or collaborative choreography tools.  Researchers can use Wii and similar gaming consoles to test how active learning exercises can improve the performance of students with various learning styles.  Wii can stimulate physical activity (EDUCAUSE, 2008g).
  • Geolocation.  This application links digital content with a physical location.  Geolocation is also called geotagging.  A common use of geolocation is the association between a picture and its geographic location.  Geolocation can help to coordinate resources and information, which can add a new layer of understanding to research (EDUCAUSE, 2008h).
  • Zotero.  This online research tool offers automated bibliographic resources to users.  Zotero runs in the browser, so the citation process becomes seemless and easy.  All the bibliographic information of a Web page is stored in the consumer’s library of sources (EDUCAUSE, 2008i).
  • Ustream.  Users of Ustream can broadcast a personalized channel on this interactive Web streaming platform.  Consumers can promote their own shows, have conversations and host events on this platform.  Educators can employ the free streaming video and initiate a variety of authentic assessments using this tool (EDUCAUSE, 2008j).
  • Flip camcorders.  Flip video camcorders allow consumers to shoot, capture, and produce video content with this petite, economical, and user-friendly device.  For faculty members, these devices present new opportunities for authentic assessment and foster visual learning.  Because this process is user-friendly and inexpensive, teachers and students might find it palatable to produce video content that can enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2008k).
  • Lecture capture.  This technology enables teachers to record classroom activities and lectures and then make them accessible for students in a digital format.  Educators can limit lecture capture to audio, but video recordings that feature the lecturer, an electronic whiteboard, or screen capture are gaining in popularity.  Lecture capture further expands on screencasting (EDUCAUSE, 2008l).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008a, January). 7 things you should know about Lulu. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7033.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008b, February). 7 things you should know about Flickr. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7034.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008c, March). 7 things you should know about Google Apps. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7035.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008d, April). 7 things you should know about Ning. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7036.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008e, May). 7 things you should know about Multi-touch interfaces. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7037.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008f, June). 7 things you should know about Second Life. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7038.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008g, July). 7 things you should know about Wii. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7039.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008h, August). 7 things you should know about Geolocation. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7040.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008i, September). 7 things you should know about Zotero. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7041.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008j, October). 7 things you should know about Ustream. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7042.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008k, November). 7 things you should know about Flip Camcorders. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7043.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2008l, December). 7 things you should know about lecture capture. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7044.pdf

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2007.

  • Digital Storytelling.  Digital storytelling combines a narrative with sound, video, graphics, or other digital content.  The stories usually incorporate an emotional section and are often interactive.  Digital storytelling creates a bridge between purely technical content and fields of study that may not view technology as a natural fit in their programs.  Digital storytelling can improve information literacy, and this application offers a promising platform for e-portfolios (EDUCAUSE, 2007a).
  • Open Journaling.  Open journaling employs an open access model in which the publishing process is streamlined through online submission, review, publication, and archiving.  This approach serves as an alternative to traditional peer-reviewed publishing techniques.  Open journaling provides an infrastructure where students can learn the basics of publishing, communication with journals, the peer review process, and tagging (EDUCAUSE, 2007b).
  • Creative Commons.  Creative Commons is actually the name of a nonprofit organization that offers an alternative to traditional copyright.  From a legal standpoint, original works automatically maintain specific rights.  Creative Commons allows authors to maintain some rights while releasing others; the intent of the company is to increase the distribution of and access to intellectual property.  The freeflow of information has the potential to greatly enhance all aspects of education (EDUCAUSE, 2007c).
  • RSS.  Subscribers of a Real Simple Syndication (RSS) protocol can access online material using an “aggregator” or “reader.” The tendency of most Internet users is to choose primary sources of information.  RSS provides consumers the ability to generate a list of those preferred sources so that updates and information are automatically sent to the subscriber (EDUCAUSE, 2007d).
  • Wikipedia.  This online source is a free encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute to or edit entries.  Wikipedia was initially launched in 2001, and is one of the most frequented Web sites in the United States.  College students are using Wikipedia as a primary research tool, with millions of articles in a multitude of languages.  Higher education faculty question this resource’s reliability as a research tool because entries are editable and are not subject to expert review (EDUCAUSE, 2007e).
  • Twitter.  This online technology is a hybrid mix of social networking, blogging, and instant messaging from a cell phone.  Users have 140 characters or less to depict their thoughts or convey what they are doing.  Interaction between students and educators can be fostered through Twitter in areas such as metacognition or ideas about an issue (EDUCAUSE, 2007f).
  • Cyberinfrastructure.  Cyberinfrastructure merges human resources, data and technology into one, and this technology is most often used in high power computer hardware and applications.  In education, this tool encourages students and faculty to share methods, tools, and experiences to enhance learning (EDUCAUSE, 2007g).
  • Haptics.  This technology allows users to feel what is happening on the computer screen.  Haptics applications present force feedback to consumers concerning the movements and physical properties of virtual objects displayed by a computer.  This technology allows users to move beyond traditional human-computer interactions, which have primarily been limited to images, data, or words (EDUCAUSE, 2007h).
  • Data visualization.  Data visualization illustrates information visually in a new format.  It is the visual approach that helps one discover relationships and trends that could be advantageous or significant.  This application allows students to process information quickly and see patterns that otherwise they might overlook (EDUCAUSE, 2007i).
  • Skype.  Skype allows consumers to make free phone calls between computers and low-cost calls between telephones and computers by using a voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP).  This technology allows educators to maintain contact between collaborators and colleagues in different locations at a minimal cost, if any.  An additional capability of Skype is to host videoconferencing from distant locations (EDUCAUSE, 2007j).

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007a, January). 7 things you should know about digital storytelling. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007b, February). 7 things you should know about open journaling. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7022.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007c, March). 7 things you should know about Creative Commons. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7023.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007d, April). 7 things you should know about RSS. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7024.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007e, June). 7 things you should know about Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7026.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007f, July). 7 things you should know about Twitter. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7027.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007g, August). 7 things you should know about Cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7028.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007h, September). 7 things you should know about Haptics. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7029.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007i, October). 7 things you should know about Data Visualization. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7030.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2007j, December). 7 things you should know about Skype. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7032.pdf

The following list was primarily derived from EDUCAUSE.  They produce a monthly publication that seeks to identify, compile, and review new technologies that show promise in education.  Below, I describe the emerging technologies that began to gain prominence in 2006.

  • Virtual meetings (aka, Virtual classrooms).  Virtual meetings are synchronous interactions that use the Internet as the medium to communicate through chat tools, application sharing, audio, and video.  In a virtual classroom, learners can encounter interactive discussions and  lectures as well as classmate and teacher interaction.  Virtual classrooms can also be woven into a LMS (EDUCAUSE, 2006a).  One of the most prominent examples of virtual classrooms is Second Life, which is the Web’s biggest “user-created, 3D virtual world community” (Linden Research, 2011, p. 1).  Another option for delivering course content in this manner is virtual conferencing.  In a virtual conference, students can learn from any location in a synchronous format or anywhere, anytime in an asynchronous format  (Beldarrain, 2006).
  • Screencasting.  A screencast allows users to record the actions taking place on a computer screen, and this recording occurs as a video accompanied by audio.  Screencasts allow users to access in-depth course material even when they may not be present in class.  They can distribute this technology as a Vodcast (EDUCAUSE, 2006b).
  • Remote Instrumentation.  Remote instrumentation allows individuals to control scientific equipment from a remote location.  Some examples of this type of equipment include spectrometers, astronomical tools, and other electronic instruments.  Educators can use remote instrumentation to provide authentic experiences to a large audience.  This initiative helps to move students beyond a textbook knowledge and offer real experience (EDUCAUSE, 2006c).
  • Google jockeying.  A Google jockey is a contributor to a class who searches the Internet for Web sites, ideas, resources, or terms that are presented during a given class.  The jockey’s role coincides real-time with the presentation in order to expand learning opportunities and refine the core topics (EDUCAUSE, 2006d).
  • Virtual worlds.  “Residents” of a virtual world immerse themselves in an online environment through avatars, which represent individuals.  Several educational institutions are implementing and experimenting with virtual worlds as a platform in which to conduct class.  This environment is poised to cultivate constructivist learning by positioning students in a learning environment without overt learning objectives (EDUCAUSE, 2006e).
  • Facebook.  Facebook is a major Website for social networking.  This site is a prime example of the challenges associated with information literacy (i.e., one’s ability to deal with the risks and opportunities the Internet age creates).  Facebook gives users the ability to create profiles that represent their individuality and post any materials or links they wish (EDUCAUSE, 2006f).
  • YouTube.  Users of this video-sharing service have the ability to share, upload, and store professional or personal videos.  In addition, users control who may view their videos by allowing anyone to access the content or to form communities.  Viewers can comment and rate videos if they wish (EDUCAUSE, 2006g).
  • Google Earth.  This interactive mapping technology permits consumers to virtually navigate the entire earth by viewing landscapes, mountains, buildings, roads, and similar structures.  Visual literacy can be improved and assessed using this application.  In addition, this tool can aid students’ awareness of cultural differences (EDUCAUSE, 2006h).
  • E-books.  E-books discard the belief that books should always be read from cover to cover.  This tool encourages readers to employ a self-directed and interactive role in how they learn.  E-books support new approaches to interact with the content of books.  Various learning styles can be accomodated by incorporating simulations, movies, or audio files (EDUCAUSE, 2006i).

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153. doi:10.1080/01587910600789498

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006a, February). 7 things you should know about virtual meetings. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7011.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006b, March). 7 things you should know about screencasting. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7012.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006c, April). 7 things you should know about remote instrumentation. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7013.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006d, May). 7 things you should know about Google jockeying. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7014.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006e, June). 7 things you should know about virtual worlds. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7015.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006f, September). 7 things you should know about Facebook. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7017.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006g, September). 7 things you should know about YouTube. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7018.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006h, October). 7 things you should know about Google Earth. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7019.pdf

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2006i, December). 7 things you should know about e-books. Retrieved from  http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7020.pdf

Linden Research, I. (2011). Second Life Homepage. Retrieved from http://secondlife.com/

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