Educational Technology

Educational Technology

Educational Technology – Some Thoughts

By Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

Let’s first take a look at the AECT (2008) definition for educational technology:

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

What should be realized about this definition is that it deviates from a commonplace and superficial notion that educational technology refers to the hardware, software, and devices that can be used for learning. Instead, it is a much deeper and thought-provoking reference that is focused on the theory, process, instructional systems, instructional design, and practice that are behind properly using technology to facilitate learning. But alas, all too often it’s the case that educational technology is selected and implemented along the lines of the initial rather than the latter perspective. This common approach frequently comes with much frustration and expense, and results in mediocre outcomes at best. But this is an entirely different conversation that I’ll get to in a future blog post…

Serious GamingIdeally, learning would occur without the recipient experiencing boring or mundane teaching practices that so often plague a classroom or learning environment, whether in a physical space or online. As Plato (The Republic, Book VII) once said:

“No compulsory learning can remain in the soul…In teaching children, train them by a kind of game, and you will be able to see more clearly the natural bent of each.”

This statement by Plato brings into consideration the early recognition of participatory experiences for learning. This approach has been persistent through time, although in practice it is taken on many forms. A modern example of interactive learning that uses educational technology is serious gaming. Wideman, Owston, Brown, Kushniruk, Ho, and Pitts (2007) assert that:

“The personally meaningful and valued social and material worlds in which game learning takes place may be ‘virtual’ from an outsider’s perspective; however, they have a psychological reality for the player that directly mediates the player’s level of immersion, persistence in the face of challenges, and intrinsic desire to learn.” (p. 11)

Educational Technology

There is no question that the application of technology has played an important role in education for centuries. The study and implementation of educational technology began rapidly evolving during the latter part of the twentieth century when the microcomputer became a common device. In 1979, Barette envisioned that “teachers as well as students would be accessing huge machine readable files from their school library media centers and from home.” In the 35 years since, the use of computers for educational purposes went from being a novelty to now being a necessity that has been embraced by the academic community.

Today’s educational technologies enable participatory learning that benefits from interactive teamwork and social construction of information via online programs and systems. Combining the benefits of technology with online social interaction, McLoughlin and Lee (2007) state that not only do social software tools support social interaction, but they also support collaborative learning through the sharing of concepts, ideas, and services. These new educational technology capabilities have issued in a new and evolving realm of online education that involves community-based learning Tim Berners-Leeand the co-creation and coalescence of knowledge. In 2001, this hypothetical concept was referred to by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila as the semantic web, whereas today it’s sometimes better known as Web 3.0, which continues to unfold.

Reflection Point: “The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.” ~Tim Berners-Lee

 

References

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2008). Definition. In A. Januszewski and M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational Technology: A definition with commentary. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Barrette, P.P. (1979). Microcomputers in education. Compute! 1(1), p. 33.

McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the web 2.0 era. Proceedings Ascilite, Singapore 2007, pp. 664-675.

Wideman, H. H., Owston, R. D., Brown, C., Kushniruk, A., Ho, F., and Pitts, K. C. (2007). Unpacking the potential of educational gaming: a new tool for gaming research. Simulation Gaming 2007, 38(10), 10-30.

ICT and Quality Education

Extending the Reach of High Quality P-12 Education through ICT

by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

Realizing that a well-educated populace is essential for boosting national prosperity and competitiveness in an international economy, top-level education departments and ministries around the world are now focused on ensuring that their P-12 curricula and instruction are adjusted to modern standards. In Oman and around the GCC, this task involves ensuring that students have the specific skills, literacies, knowledge, and expertise that will ensure their success locally, regionally and in the global marketplace. A crucial piece in accomplishing this, both in terms of learning outcomes and instructional delivery, is ICT (Information, Communications and Technology).

 ICT

As a driver of learning outcomes, ICT can play an important role in the development of new Omani curriculum and instruction strategies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been at the forefront of providing a basis for the remodeling and modernization of teaching, learning and curriculum, with ICT being a significant consideration. Even though established as a US K-12 education initiative, the organization’s recommendations have relevance and implications for GCC educational systems. One of the major categories found within the Partnership’s renowned publication, P21 Framework Definitions, was created in response to the fact that we live in a global environment that is infused with and dependent upon technology and media. The ICT portion of the document offers the following highlights about the knowledge, skills, and expertise that student should possess as a result of the learning process:

Information Literacy – 1) accessing and evaluating information and 2) using and managing information

Media Literacy – 1) analyzing media and 2) creating media products

ICT Literacy – 1) applying technology effectively, ethically, and legally

 

Mobile LearningAs a medium for instructional delivery, ICT can play a significant role in the modernization of Oman’s educational system. One of the challenges in many countries has been the provision of a quality and equal education to all children regardless of their circumstances. Around the world, ICT infrastructures are being updated and expanded to provide Internet access to both urban and rural destinations and recipients. In Oman, the development of this infrastructure is underway and when finished it will be able to facilitate learning through the Internet-based transfer of instructional content.

Additionally, Omani schools and learners will need to be provided with devices to receive and make use of educational web content. This e-content should be specifically designed and developed by subject matter experts, master teachers, and instructional designers who are highly specialized in e-learning and the variety of learning devices. Of particular interest and development are mobile learning, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and other one-to-one initiatives. The implementation of educational ICT is an intricate and complex process that should only be attempted through the direction of a project management team that has curriculum, instruction, and education technology expertise.

Reflection Point – When faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road! ~Nigel Willetts

Virtual Reality in the Medical Industry

Virtual Reality in the Medical Industry

By Fathi AlRiyami

Leading industries have taken a leap forward with the advancement of technology and are incorporating virtual environments for training, architecture design, marketing, education, diagnosis, rehab, and counseling. It’s possible to place within these designs the abilities to provide training, knowledge enhancement and experience enrichment. Such was done with the virtual reality and virtual environments that are used in medical schools such as University of Southern California, Duke University, Stanford and other similar settings as a means of training, medical re-certification and healthcare quality assurance training.

A well-planned and well-developed environment consists of a commensurate design that provides informative and engaging experiences. The virtual environments used for simulations provide regulated, safe and flexible platforms for evaluation and training. Through simulated learning experiences, virtual reality can be used to train the next generation of doctors, paramedics, physiologists, emergency response units and other personnel.

Med 1

With the appropriate virtual environment design ongoing trainee assessments can be conducted with accurate visualization of real-time data. For example, an emergency response team can conduct their training in a high-risk, time-critical environment that has been developed to replicate an emergency scenario. Based on the trainee’s responses, trainers can adjust the training methodology to enhance the needed skills and knowledge. The trainer can log in the virtual environment with the trainee in a one-on-one session or can conduct group sessions.

Med 2

Virtual reality use in the healthcare industry is being heavily incorporated as a means of providing enhanced medical services and it is expanded its usability and availability due to the broad product development and advancement of technology. In addition, the growing implementation of information technology infrastructure in the healthcare industry is paving the way of associating Virtual reality in innovative medical technology in areas including pre-operative surgical planning, motor skills training, surgical simulation and physical rehabilitation.

The current and future market for commercialized virtual reality technologies are based on assortments of applications for areas such as surgery, including surgical navigation, augmented reality surgery, and robot-assisted surgery. Medical data visualization, as well as multi-modality image blending, advanced 3D/4D image restoration.

Virtual reality usability includes rehabilitation and therapy, by the means of blending treatments with immersive virtual reality systems for pain management, behavioral therapy, psychological therapy, physical rehabilitation, and motor skills training. In addition, virtual reality is used for education and training purposes, the use of virtual surgical simulators and simulators for medical patient procedure. It also involves the use of single and multi-user learning capabilities and environments.

Med 3

With the use of virtual reality it is possible to provide medical students and physicians with interactive training opportunities in a risk-free environment. Technology can also be used to transform data, such as a CT or MRI scan, from a flat image into a three-dimensional one, thus allowing surgeons and students to visualize and discuss complex surgical procedures.

Virtual reality technology can result in enhancing patient outcomes, reduced medical errors, improved omnipresent surgical technique, enhanced capabilities that allow physician to collaborate during diagnosis and improved psychological and motor rehabilitation.

ICT in Emerging Markets

The Role that ICT Plays in Emerging Markets

By Fathi AlRiyami

In developing countries, small and medium enterprises are experiencing challenges created by the globalization of production, a shift in market competitiveness and the existence of emerging markets. Because ICT is linked to a firm’s ability to revolutionize how it introduces existing and new products, services or even business processes into these new marketplaces, it is important for organizations to innovate and remain emerging marketstechnologically savvy. It is estimated that by 2025, the earth will contain more than 25 trillion connected devices that can allow people to communicate. This creates a major opportunity for businesses to leverage digital ecosystems, thus it is important to have human resources with the skill-sets and supporting infrastructure that allows them to take advantage and be part of the international market. As enterprises adapt to newer technology, the demands on staff such as programmers, developers, designers, creative teams and managers’ will shift. They will need to access information remotely, manage the projects using innovative online tools, carryout tasks and conduct meetings on the go, and maintain global connections. To be able to keep with the advancement of technology and the international market demands, companies need to provide training and professional development for their employees.

ICT advancement has taken emerging markets by storm and has motivated organizations and governments to empower citizens, end-users and clients by adopting and developing technology-based information, services, and communications. If done properly, the downstream experiences are memorable, rewarding and highly effective. Economically, ICT offers pathways that benefits everyone by providing jobs, business growth, global presence and competiveness. Socially, ICT advancements offer the opportunity to enrich society, improve human well-being, and strengthen nations in unconventional ways and in an environmentally friendly manner.

Reflection Point: Emerging markets’ share of global market capitalization could overtake developed markets’ share by 2030. ~Goldman Sachs.

Mobility in Business

The Role of ICT for Business Mobility

By Fathi AlRiyami

Technology supports mobility and virtual attendance that enable a person who is on-the-go to participate in activities such as meetings and conferences. This can be done from the comfort of their office, during their travels in places such as the airport, taxi, and hotel, or their home. International virtual events can also be planned, organized and held, thus providing a wider audience outreach. Additional online activities for the mobile individual include attending professional development events, developing one’s knowledge and skill sets online courses, viewing and purchasing products, and arranging services.

mobility

Other advantages of mobility and ubiquitous access are many. Using technology it is possible to make educated and timely decisions based on current information feeds. This information can be used by an individual or processed and shared in real-time with a team. By taking advantage of technology it is possible to develop on-demand self-paced learning processes and methodologies that have been proven to be effective for learners, consumers and businesses. Technological advancements have enhanced mobility’s role and importance in such areas as virtual services, online educational tools, e-government, blogs, social media, and e-books. The number of people searching online for commodities such as flights, hotel rooms, real estate, cars, household products, and electronics is increasing as consumers continue to rely upon accessing information and making purchases while they are on the move. ICT can now be used for business purposes such as but not limited to service delivery, customer support, product review and enhancement, and business continuity.

Reflection Point: There are three major issues now that are becoming important, not only for cities, but for all mankind: mobility, sustainability – which is linked to mobility – and social diversity. ~ Jamie Lerner

 

Virtual Reality Experience

Virtual Reality is Creating Change in Business Practices

By Mark Sivy

The notion of “virtual reality” can be traced back to 1938 when Antonin Artaud, a French playwright, actor and director, used it in a book written about theater. Later, in the 1970s, Myron Krueger coined the term “artificial reality” in reference to the interaction between humans and computers. Historically, this concept of having a virtual experience within a computer-generated 3D simulated environment has been nothing more than an exercise in science fiction for the masses. Even though the virtual reality systems that would enable this would have been in development for decades, their price tags and technological requirements have been enormous. Then came the introduction of wearable virtual reality headsets the past couple of years.

virtual reality

Virtual Reality Options

The media forerunner in this has been the Oculus Rift, which is a consumer-targeted virtual reality head-mounted display that is expected to be released in final version near the end of 2014. It made headlines recently when it was announced that the parent company, Oculus VR, was purchased by Facebook in March 2014. The current developer kit version of the Rift is available for $350 US. Similar personal computer-connected systems are under development by other companies such as the Sony Morpheus, True Player Gear Totem, Avegant Glyph, GameFace Mark IV, and Durovis Dive, thus we can anticipate a flood of this very highly anticipated technology into the marketplace during the next couple of years. Presently these systems are primarily being designed for either immersive gaming or for movie entertainment, but other uses of the system are certainly possible and are being considered.

True Player Gear

True Player Gear

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift

Sony Morpheus

Sony Morpheus

Market Example

For one market example, imagine the advantages that these VR options would have for education. The levels of engagement, interactivity, collaboration, presence and visualization that these devices will offer can certainly be leveraged to the advantage of learning. In a recent Wired article, Brian Shuster discussed the likelihood of using virtual world environments for educational purposes. Even the Oculus Rift creator, Palmer Luckey, envisions educational uses of his creation in an article in Gamespot. In anticipation of the educational uses of VR, East Carolina University in North Carolina had established the Virtual Reality and Education Laboratory in 1992 and the university currently offers a concentration in VR within their Education Master’s degree program.

Our Abilities

Cosmic Surrounding Technology (CST) is at the forefront of developing alternative uses of these 3D display technologies. In terms of serious gaming, CST is exploring the application of game-based virtual reality for education and training purposes. Other uses that are being considered or developed include architectural rendering, product modeling, urban planning, and personal health. To read more about this and other CST solutions, see the interview article published in the Oman Observer.

Reflection Point: Virtual reality is a medium, a means by which humans can share ideas and experiences. ~ Alan B. Craig

 

Role of ICT

The Role of ICT in International Business

By Fathi Al-Riyami

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) claims the total number of people connected to the Internet worldwide is surpassed 2.7 billion in 2013, while the total number of applications downloaded over all types of devices exceeded 50 billion. Emerging markets stand to gain from innovative and disruptive information and communication technologies (ICT). Valerie D’Costa, a program manager with World Bank says “developing countries’ roles in the digital world have been mostly limited to users and consumers, not producers. But today, a growing mesh of digital services is giving rise to a new layer of entrepreneurial opportunities with very low entry barriers”.

ictOrganizations use websites to compete in the global market as a means to provide information about their products or services. In addition, merging ICTs such as virtual environments, social media and other online tools allows companies to communicate, display and promote their products and services to customers in real time through customized designs and platforms. With the use of innovative and disruptive technologies it is possible to reach out to different demographics through the use of trendy platforms and media. Such advanced setup can facilitate connections between businesses and new markets.

Businesses that rely on information, exposure and international trade stand to gain from ICT through increased customer interaction, clients receiving better product knowledge, increased sales, better customer service, reduced costs, and increased productivity. These are just some of the vast benefits they stand to gain as small business, large corporations and governments use technology to achieve various goals. Having the ability to empower the potential client by carefully crafting a creative process through the use of technology can provide beneficial opportunities of engagement within the international market. To do this effectively and in a manner that offers a simplified and humanized end-user experience is both a science and an art.

Reflection Point: In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later. ~ Harold S. Geneen

Digital Library II

A Digital Library Part II – How?

By Mark Sivy

The following are considerations to be made when planning a digital library. Even though this post provides a basic set of guidelines and information for establishing a digital library, the final details will depend upon the actual planning and development process for a given digital library and will be determined by its target audience and needs.

Digital Library

1. Who Are the Patrons?

It is of great importance at the onset of the project to define the target users of a digital library. Once these users and their communities are identified, it is then essential to establish their needs, abilities, and access related to the library.

2. Collaboration

For the library concept to develop and eventually succeed it is essential to identify stakeholders and collaborators who will be instrumental in establishing and maintaining the library and in developing and applying the criteria for content inclusion and to acquire the holdings.

3. Operating and Managing

Determine the organization structure, operation, and sustainability of the library.

4. Digital Library Technologies

Identify and address issues related to the digital existence and operations of the digital library. This includes such considerations as hardware, software, meta-data structure, and converting non-digital media to digital media.

5. Accessibility and Usability

Identify and address issues related to the usability of the library including functionality issues, the user interface, the user experience, and policies that govern the use of a digital library.

6. The Content

Decide upon the content and the materials to be contained in the digital library.

7. Maintenance

Determine what is needed for the short-term and long-term upkeep of the digital library.

8. Legal Concerns

Define and address the legal implications of providing materials in the library including copyrights, intellectual property rights, and fair use of materials

9. Access and Security

Incorporates the issues to be addressed when determining who will access the library, how they will access it, and what security needs to be considered to safeguard the library and its patrons.

10. Support

Support requirements and mechanisms for the digital library and its patrons.

11. Professional Development and Training

Identify library staff and patron development and learning needs.

12. Communications / Media

Establish the means for internal and external communications such as announcements, notifications, contacts, discussions and feedback.

13. Cost Implications

Identify the key factors affecting the cost of developing and maintaining a digital library.

14. Outreach

Create a social media plan, a marketing strategy and external partnerships.

Reflection Point – A library is not a luxury, but of the necessities of life. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Parts of this post are based upon the Joint United Nations recent Programme on HIV/AIDS (2010) publication Planning Tool for Developing a Digital Library of Monitoring and Evaluation Resources.

Digital Library Part I

A Digital Library Part 1 – What and Why

By Mark Sivy

A digital library is a repository of electronic versions of what would be found in a traditional library, including books, articles, journals, magazines, audio sources and video productions. Even though some information could be stored on local computer, due to the volume and continuous addition of content it is best located in a large managed database that is  can be publicly available and accessed remotely via computer networks through devices such as personal computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

The digital library can open the wonders, benefits and values of the human collective of knowledge, creations, cultures, and histories to the breadth of global citizenry. This in turn can help nurture and grow our educational reach, intellectual capacities and scholarly endeavors. These digital vessels can also enable distributed access to not only classic works and masterpieces, but also the opportunity to present the efforts and crafts of lesser known individuals and upcoming contributors.

Digital LibraryWith this occurring in the realm of electronic networks, new approaches to the traditional library can more readily be integrated into the fabric of this intellectual net. Connectivity, sharing and collaborations can be developed between digital libraries and other digital repositories, thus expanding collections and conserving resources. For the digital library patron, commonly available social media can be tied in with the library to create an engaging and enriching social aspect. The vast online library storehouse is capable of distributing educational information to a great number of primary and secondary students across geographic and economic boundaries.

On the logistical and strategic fronts, digital libraries allow innovative and advanced services to be made available to a greater number of individuals at a lower per patron cost than traditional libraries. The preservation and storage of existing acquisitions becomes more readily addressed. The electronic system also tackles issues concerning the collection and retrieval of the exponentially increasing global knowledge base.

It is less expensive to scan existing content and to store new content electronically than to attempt to maintain physical versions. A digital library removes the concerns and expense of unreturned materials, damaged books, checking-out /checking-in, theft, and following up with patrons. Digital libraries allow more acquisitions and innovative materials to be made available to more individuals and a greater diversity at a lower per user cost.

Reflection Point: If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Digital Libraries Part II will outline what is involved in creating a digital library.

Tourist Destination

Making a Location a Tourist Destination

By Mark Sivy

There is a rich assortment of cultural, historical, natural, and commercial tourist destinations around the globe that are relatively unknown. For those tourists who discover these places, the experience can be as rewarding and relaxing as going to comparable popular locations anywhere around the world.

Tourism has become a lucrative trillion dollar international industry. In many countries tourism now represents a significant share of gross domestic product (GDP) and makes up 6-8% of the world’s employment. The trickle-down effect of tourism-related businesses, employment opportunities and markets is broad. With the global increase in the frequency of vacations, competition between regions and nations to capture a market share is on the rise, with many competitors are beginning to heavily leverage information and communication technology (ICT) strategies to their advantage.

Most of these ICT efforts related to tourism consist of standard websites and web-based services that provide text information and images.  However, to be a market leader it is vital to create a tourist destination image that has a competitive edge. Research has shown that to do this with ICTs, the solutions must be capable of catching the potential visitor’s thoughts, feelings, motivations and impulses. This requires an online experience that is engaging, interactive, empowering and memorable.

tourist destination

Using advanced web-based technologies and strategies can give a tourist destination the competitive edge in being a top choice. Properly planned, these solutions can be used for:

– Bringing attention to a diversity of tourist services such as cultural heritage, contemporary culture, protected natural sites, health and well-being tourism, education, food, history, sports, religion, rural tourism, and maritime tourism.
– Attracting more consumers, thus supporting the hotels, restaurants, retailers, product producers, and other goods and services providers
– Hosting virtual publicity events, exhibits, tradeshows, and conventions
– Creating a compelling destination image
– Presenting information in multiple languages
– Improving communication
– Enhancing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities

Reflection Point: Travelers never think that they are foreigners.  ~Mason Cooley