"Ready or Not ... The World is Different...
Tools are different...Communication is different...
Work is different...Kids are different...Information is different...
And Learning is different"
From: ISTE Technology Foundation Standards for all Youth
The term "new learning technology" (NLT) is somewhat ambiguous. It can mean a tool that helps an individual to learn, it can also be used to mean a technology that itself learns, such as neural nets and artificial intelligence. For the purpose of this article learning technology is defined as a tool that helps one to learn. New learning technology simply implies a particular tool that is used in both a new and innovative way to create a learning outcome.
At the present time learning technology can unite the instructor and learner in ways never imagined a couple of decades ago. Practitioners have at their disposal a variety of learning technologies that have the potential to bring quality education and training experiences to a whole range of learning situations. However, no single technology is a solution and, if not introduced and managed carefully, will become an expensive and time consuming exercise that is doomed to failure.
If managed correctly the task of incorporating new learning technologies into curriculum design can be exciting and rewarding, however it can also be complex and time consuming. This is because it involves the practitioner in the development of a whole range of new skills, and also requires the practitioner to become proficient in a different way of teaching. The learner also has to become proficient in, and enthusiastic about, undertaking a different way of learning.
Despite the fact that the time and energy involved in incorporating learning technologies into curriculum design is likely to be significant, just being involved in the creation of innovative and effective elearning solutions is well worth the effort. When the process is managed correctly, elearning content can deliver remarkable value, can be highly interactive, be engaging, enjoyable and educationally sound; it can, if managed correctly, create a rich sense of community for the participants.
Incorporating New Learning Technology
What is the best way to go about incorporating a new learning technology, and what factors need to be considered during the planning, designing and implementation process?
First, for a technology innovation to be successful the reason for using it must be based in the identification of a real need. Second, the use of the technology must be fully integrated within the curriculum.
Cited in a previous article, (Creating Curriculum Content for Electronic Delivery) practitioners where asked to consider four fundamental questions when developing e-curriculum content, they were:
- Who is the curriculum content for?
- What type of e-curriculum content will be delivered via digital technologies?
- What curriculum design objectives are needed to effectively deliver e-curriculum via digital technologies?
- What instructional design objectives are needed to effectively deliver e-curriculum via digital technologies?
These same four questions apply if practitioners are to incorporate new learning technologies. Building from the above questions, points to be aware of are as follows:
- First of all, practitioners must start with an idea on how they want to use the technology; don't use it for the sake of it. The question needed to be asked if considering a particular technology is how can it strengthen the curriculum and help it achieve the objectives?
- Don't duplicate other formats. What works with one approach may not work with another. Use each format for its strengths.
- Generally, locating information online and downloading it is less important than what you do with it. It is quite a useless exercise to provide myriads of resources without having a need for them, don’t provide resources for the sake of filling up space.
- Use the technology creatively to do what you can't do, or can't do as well without it. Don’t use technology for technologies sake.
- Incorporate a high degree of interaction when using technology for learning, not just to access information.
A Framework for Implementation
Effective learning environments incorporating new learning technologies tend to meld both a traditional and new approach to facilitate learning, and at the same time addressing individual learning styles. The resulting learning environments should prepare students to:
- Communicate using a variety of media and formats
- Access & exchange information in a variety of ways
- Compile, organise, analyse and synthesise information
- Draw conclusions and make generalisations based on information gathered
- Use information and select appropriate tools to solve problems
- Know content and be able to locate additional information as needed
- Become self directed learners
- Collaborate and cooperate in team efforts
- Interact with others in ethical and appropriate ways
When considering the implementation of new technologies, practitioners should be considering a framework to guide them through the developmental and implementation process. In an article titled ‘A conceptual framework for the integration of learning technology’ Stoner (1996) discussed a life cycle model of Learning Technology Integration (refer image below) that contains seven distinct phases. The stages identified in this model provide a practical structure to work with when considering the issues involved in integrating learning technology into curriculum.
Greg Stoner, ‘A conceptual framework for the integration of learning technology’,
Implementing Learning Technology (LTDI, 1996)