Our edited book focusing on Activity Theory, Authentic Learning and Emerging Technologies has been published by Routledge and is available in hard cover and e-book formats: http://routledge-ny.com/books/details/9781138778597/

Cover of Activity Tehory, Authentic Learning and Emerging Technologie

Cover of Activity Tehory, Authentic Learning and Emerging Technologie

This edited collection seeks to fill the current gap in understanding about the use of emerging technologies for transformative learning and teaching by providing a nuanced view, locating higher education pedagogical practices at an intersection of emerging technologies, authentic learning and activity systems.

The book, which is edited by Professors Vivienne Bozalek, Dick N’gambi, Denise Wood, Jan Herrington, Joanne Hardman and Alan Amory, includes case studies as examples, and draws from a wide range of contexts to illustrate how such a convergence has the potential to track transformative teaching and learning practices in the higher education sector. Chapters provide the reader with a variety of transformative higher education pedagogical practices in southern contexts, theorised within the framework of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and tool mediation, while using authentic learning as a pedagogical model upon which this theoretical framework is based.

The topics covered in the book have global relevance, with research paying particular attention to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, where the authors are based. The book will be of interest to educators, researchers and practitioners in higher education, as well as those interested in emerging technologies in education more generally.

The Inclusive Technology Enhanced Learning project was funded by the Australian Government, Department of Education, Office for Learning and Teaching in the second half of 2013 and is due to be completed in late 2015. The project is a collaboration of four Australian and three international universities, national and international teaching and learning experts in inclusive design, representatives from Indigenous communities, the not-for-profit sector and the open-source community. Team members will work in collaboration to achieve the following project aims:

  • Demonstrate the benefits of an evidence-based approach to the design of inclusive technology enhanced learning (TEL) environments;
  • Provide guidelines for academics on the design and redevelopment of inclusive TEL curricula; and
  • Develop a prototype of an open source responsive learning system (RLS), which adapts to student needs by delivering content that is personalised to meet their individual accessibility needs and learning preferences.

The project addresses several priority areas of the Innovation and Development Grants program, with the major foci being the innovative use of technology, curriculum design, and strategic approaches to student success, progression and diversity.

Further information from the project site: http://responsive-learning.org

Digital Enterprise: Pathways to Education and Employment for Young People with Disabilities is a national programme funded by the Australian Government Department of Education under the Broadband Enabled Education and Skills Services Programme. It is a joint initiative based at the University of South Australia and involving four universities, two registered training organisations, state government and not for profit community organisations in South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and New South Wales. The funded period commenced in late 2013 and concludes mid-2016. The project is led by Professor Denise Wood, Professor of Learning, Equity Access and Participation at Central Queenlsnad University and administered by UniSA, where Denise holds an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow position.

Digital Enterprise programmes are being establishing in four technology-enabled spaces, in four states, to provide high –tech learning programmes for groups of young people, aged 10 to 20, who have Autism Spectrum Disorders or Acquired Brain Injury and related disabilities. Through challenging and developing their IT skills, the program aims to foster their sense of personal initiative, reduce isolation, develop entrepreneurial skills and increase their rate of participation in further education and employment.

Digital Enterprise builds on the success of “The Lab” technology clubs, which started in Melbourne in 2011, for young people with High Functioning Autism. The evaluation of The Lab found that young people who have participated in the programme have experienced enhanced technical skills, increased self-efficacy and confidence, improved motivation at school and the sense of new possibilities for the future. Parents have also benefited in terms of mutual support from other parents.

Digital Enterprise is extending these benefits to other young people with disabilities who would like to access training that will significantly develop their technical interests and increase their technical abilities and employable skills. For those who are aged 16 or over, who will learn entrepreneurial skills, the program will open up a range of post-school options including enhanced employability, capacity to establish new businesses, and pathways to further education.

Further information available from our project site: http://digital-enterprise-pathways.net/

I am now Professor of Learning, Equity, Acces and Participation at Central Queensland University, Australia.

My role is to play a key role in the development and operation of relevant and meaningful policies and practices that provide engaged and inclusive learning experiences for indigenous and non-indigenous students, students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, students with disabilities, and students with socio-economic barriers.

CQUniversity Australia has a unique and interesting history. The University was originally founded in Rockhampton in 1967 and was known as the Queensland Institute of Technology (Capricornia). By 1974 it was among only a few Australian institutes to commence the delivery of distance education.

Between 1978 and 1989 further campuses were established in Bundaberg, Emerald, Gladstone, and Mackay and in 1992 the Institute achieved full University status to become known as Central Queensland University. Along with locations in regional Queensland, CQUniversity has also expanded its presence throughout Australia with campuses in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Noosa and Sydney, Study Centres in Biloela and Yeppoon, a Cairns Distance Education Study Centre, a delivery site in Edithvale, Victoria, and Partner Study Hubs in Cannonvale, Queensland and Geraldton, Western Australia.

Now more than 20 years on, and following a merger with CQ TAFE on 1 July 2014, CQUniversity is responsible for providing a diverse range of training and education programs and courses to more than 30,000 students studying qualifications from certificate to post doctorate level.

Further information: http://www.cqu.edu.au/

In my last post I noted the technologies on the horizon for adoption in teaching and learning as reported in the NMC Horizon Project Short List 2013 Higher Education Edition report.

One of the anticipated developments foreshadowed by the report within a 2-3 year adoption period is referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). But what exactly does that term mean and how is it likely to transform education? IoT is also referred to as “Machine to Machine” (M2M) communication, and refers to objects or entities which have attached sensors and form part of an ecology of interconnected nodes that can communicate via the Internet. The NMC report refers to these entities as “smart objects” which have four attributes: they are small and easy to attach to almost anything; they have unique identifiers; small store of data or information; and can communicate that information to an external device on demand. A recent TechRepublic (2013, p. 6) report,  explains “Almost anything to which you can attach a sensor—a cow in a field, a container on a cargo vessel, the air-conditioning unit in your office, a lamppost in the street—can become a node in the Internet of Things”.

Here is a diagram taken from the TechRepublic e-book, The Executive’s Guide to the Internet of Things, which explains the principles.

TechRepublic's 2013 illustration explaining the anatomy of the Internet of Things

TechRepublic’s 2013 illustration explaining the anatomy of the Internet of Things

So what is the relevance of the Internet of Things for Teaching, Learning, Research, or Creative Inquiry?

The NMC report (2013, p. 7) suggests some interesting possibilities including:

  • TCP/IP-enabled smart objects that alert scientists and researchers to conditions that may impair the quality or utility of the samples.
  • Pill-shaped microcameras used in medical diagnostics and teaching to traverse the human digestive tract and send back thousands of images to pinpoint sources of illness.
  • TCP/IP enabled sensors and information stores make it possible for geology and anthropology departments to monitor or share the status and history of even the tiniest artifact in their collections of specimens from anywhere to anyone with an Internet connection.

If you are interested in exploring these possibilities further, register with TechRepublic for free and download their e-book, The Executive’s Guide to the Internet of Things (2013). Also refer to the NMC Horizon Project Short List: 2013 Higher Education Edition

Many of us have been monitoring the trends documented in the New Media Consortium’s (NMC) Horizon Project , which has been charting the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, research, creative inquiry, and information management since 2002. NMC has been working on an updated edition of its 2012 Higher Education Edition and recently released an interim report: the NMC Horizon Project Short List: 2013 Higher Education Edition shortlisting emerging technologies identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, as well as key trends and challenges expected to continue over the same period. The results of the shortlisting process  are available via the  NMC wiki  www.horizon.wiki.nmc.org.

In summary the following 12 educational technologies have been short listed as emerging over the next five years:

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less
Flipped Classroom
Massively Open Online Courses
Mobile Apps
Tablet Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years
Augmented Reality
Game-Based Learning
The Internet of Things
Learning Analytics

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years
3D Printing
Flexible Displays
Next Generation Batteries
Wearable Technology

You can download the short list report and interim report from the following links.

Download the Short List PDF

Download the Preview PDF

The final version of the 10th edition is expected to be published in February 2013.

You can also keep up to date with NMC Project publications via the NMC iPhone/iPad EdTech Weekly App, which delivers “curated, relevant, and timely edtech projects and news to your iPad or iPhone every weekend” (NMC description from iTunes Store). The app also includes the Horizon Report series on emerging technology for all of the educational sectors in a searchable format.The cost is $2.99 via iTunes.

New Media Consortium's EdTech App displayed on an iPhone and iPad

New Media Consortium’s EdTech App for iPhone and iPad

Check it out via iTunes store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nmc-horizon-edtech-weekly/id499356877?mt=8

I came across an interesting article in the Australian Higher Education supplement this week, which is written by Carolyn Thompson, “Webtools whitewash students online“. Carolyn reports on a growing trend among US universities including Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, which are offering their students tools to help them manage their online identity. The article describes the growth in these brand identity services as a response to research that shows that of the 2000 hiring managers from CareerBuilder completing a recent survey, nearly two in five companies reported that they use social networking sites to research job candidates, with another 11 per cent indicating their intention to begin this practice.

The article describes in some detail BrandYourself.com, which is the brand identity service Syracuse University is making available to their students. This sounds like a valuable tool for academics who are coordinating capstone courses in which career building skills are embedded, particularly given the growing importance for us to prepare our graduates to make effective use of information services and social media.

I created my own profile to test out the service and I will be interested to monitor how the system helps me to manage my various social media profiles. You can check out my own BrandYourself profile here: http://denisewood.brandyourself.com/

Brandyourself profile page

Creating a profile page via the BrandYourself.com website

You can create your own profile for free from the main website: http://brandyourself.com/

Another interesting website that aggregates information from your social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook to create an online profile is Vizify.com

Vizify profile page

Vizify aggregates information from social media sites to build a visual online profile

Some great online tools for educators to use with their students to help them learn about identity management using social media. Unfortunately, both sites have W3C Level A web accessibility compliant problems – especially vizify given its very rich visual display. Now here’s an opportunity for an entrepreneurial type to develop a similar tool that is W3C compliant!