Shared knowledge

I have learned so much from my colleagues over the course of this class and reading through the blogs each week. We all come from different backgrounds and have different goals, which creates a vibrant community of thinkers about technology and its use in the classroom. This has just been amplified by the course content and other assignments. The blog assignments have been a very eye-opening and interesting learning experience. I have found so many new and interesting technologies and thoughts about how to use technology in education that choosing three was difficult. The three I have chosen come from a variety of ideas about and uses for technology.

First, I was intrigued by an application mentioned by Angela Brockman on January 18th ( called World Lens. With World Lens, ESL students are able to translate the words on street signs or other signs by taking pictures from their cell phones, tablets or iPods. I find this to be a very excellent and useful learning tool to both engage and interest students in their own learning, creating self-directed/directing learners. As Angela mentioned in her post, students become excited and engaged when they are able to learn and grow independently and then show that skill off. World Lens allows them to do this. Also, as Angela mentioned, this application lends itself to class activities such as scavenger hunts. Not only does it lend itself to scavenger hunts where ESL students translate signs and then do what they say (Brockman, 2013) it also lends itself to a history class by combining the translation aspect with studying history. This is how I would use it in my class. As I mentioned in my comment to her, I would use World Lens to create a scavenger hunt activity looking at historical landmarks and markers both to engage students in the history of the area and to help students understand what the markers are saying. By using cellphones and tablets, World Lens makes learning mobile, fun and collaborative. Another way I would use this application is to allow students to find signs that confuse them and then bring in the pictures and translations for discussion. By discussing the signs and the translations we will be able to work as a group to clear any idiomatic misunderstandings. This is important because it is idiomatic language that most confuses ESL students.

Second, I was intrigued by Dennie Coombs-Norman’s discussion of Interactive Whiteboards from January 19th ( Interactive Whiteboards open learning by making it collaborative and creative. They offer the ability to work on a particular problem/concept while looking up web-based information regarding that problem/concept. They also allow both students and teachers the ability to be as creative as possible in order to open learning by lowering technological barriers (Richardson, 2010). Technology can either create or remove barriers and the collaboration and creativity of whiteboards will help to remove barriers. With the use of whiteboards in my classroom I can create interactive and creative activities that both build on and challenge my students’ skills and understanding of concepts-activities such as collaborative crosswords to learn vocabulary or video presentations. Whiteboards also allow me to build on and challenge my skills and understanding through creating multisensory activities and learning modules. Although whiteboards are relatively simple to use and create content for, there is still a learning curve for both myself and my students as there is for many technologies. By lowering technological barriers through creativity and collaboration, whiteboards engage learners in the endeavor and make learning fun.

Third, I was intrigued by Flat World Knowledge ( as mentioned by Valerie Richards on February 16th ( Flat World Knowledge is an open license virtual textbook site that allows students to purchase cheap print copies of textbooks (as low as $30) or access free copies online and instructors the option to change and update textbook content in order to suit the course and how they teach. I was impressed with this site as a student because I remember paying huge sums just for used textbooks during my undergraduate days. As an educator, I am struck by the ability to update and customize textbook content to suit my course needs. Learning and a student’s engagement in it can be complicated by outside frustrations like the price of textbooks this site eliminates that frustration. As I went through the site I was impressed by the fact that there are instructors at my own college currently using the site and saving students and their respective departments thousands of dollars in textbook costs. This is highly important right now as my school is like so many working through the economic downturn and still trying to provide a high quality education to our students. Flat World Knowledge will allow me to customize the textbook to fit my course content rather than fitting my course content around a textbook I might not entirely like or am forced to use. It will also save my students money by letting them access the free online copy or pay for relatively cheap print copies. This type of technology is a great resource for low income communities or schools with limited budgets.


Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Teich, Anne (200(. Interactive Whiteboards Enhance Classroom Instruction and Learning. Retrieved from

Digital citizenship and netiquette in our online world

Mike Ribble defines digital citizenship as “the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use” (2013). Just like community, national and global citizenship, digital citizenship requires a sense of responsibility and care for yourself and for others in your digital community. These are not necessarily skills we are born with. They are often skills that must be taught and continually reinforced over time. This is what happens as parents and others involved in a child’s life instill morals and ethics in that child. When new technologies come up we often have to teach ourselves or help each other learn the ropes and how to navigate this new landscape. Are the rules and guidelines the same as when we step out of the digital world? Is there a new set of morals that need to be followed? There are any number of websites and online tutorials available to answer these questions. One of those websites is the digital citizenship page of

The nisd page follows Ribble’s nine elements of digital citizenship grouped into three groups similar to his REPs model. The groups are: School environment and Student Behavior (digital rights and responsibilities, digital communication, digital access, digital etiquette, digital security), Student Learning and Academic Performance (digital literacy, digital law), and Student Life Outside the School Environment (digital health and wellness, digital commerce). While this site is primarily made for K-12 educators, there are lesson plans, activities and ideas that can certainly be modified for use with adult learners. They will also be able to take many of these activities and videos back to their families and show them to their children thereby paying their learning forward.  Whether my students are in my class or out in public taking care of their daily business they will have to learn how to handle their digital lives just as they do their offline lives so incorporating the nisd lesson plans into our everyday technological learning will help to make it a seamless transition and give us all the skills necessary to take that learning back to our families.

Just as we have rules of etiquette that we follow as responsible and polite individuals in the offline world, we must also follow rules of etiquette online. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines netiquette as “etiquette governing communication on the Internet”. In most cases this includes following an online version of the Golden Rule: Do unto others online as you would have done unto you. Following good netiquette will help you become a good digital citizen and like digital citizenship there are any number of websites that give a student somewhere to start.  The following websites are good places to start:, and Each of these sites offers something different to the educator and the learner and takes the netiquette discussion in a different direction. Yet each is an excellent source of information. The Colorado State University page borrows the core rules from Virginia Shea’s 1994 book entitled Netiquette. Looking at these 10 rules learners will be reminded that everything starts with remembering there is another human being at the other end of any online communication. That is one of the most important things that can be taught about following good netiquette as good digital citizens. The rules listed on the Colorado State page are similar to those found on the website, yet the list makes learning the information fun and entertaining and reminds the learner that it is important to use emoticons in order to convey emotions that are otherwise difficult to recognize in written communication. The network etiquette page employs the most entertainment value in order to get the necessity for good netiquette across to those viewing the website. It also defines netiquette by domain making it easy for the learner to understand what is most important in that domain. It even includes an online education definition that is very helpful for those of us who are looking to teach online. What makes this website even more interesting and fun is the netiquette videos that are included. All of these websites are places I would go to share netiquette information with my students and the videos on the network etiquette page will help break the ice and make it a fun topic to discuss. Each page will also create a space where dialogue and learning can take place regarding what is different between one area and another and how culture and domain might change the rules.

Netiquette. (n.d.).  In Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. Retrieved from

Ribble, M. (2013). Nine elements: Nine themes of digital citizenship. Retrieved from

Open Education Technologies and Resources

Open education is definitely the wave of the educational future. It opens learning to groups of learners that would otherwise be left by the educational wayside. As Charles Vest discusses, “openness in Higher Education is the true spirit of education, democratization, and empowerment” (2010).  This idea, this spirit of democracy and empowerment, was one of the driving forces behind MIT’s 2001 decision to place the content of all 2000 of its courses online for free access and use. As the internet expands and more and more people worldwide have meaningful access to the technology necessary to make open education an option for them  more and more reliable resources are becoming available for use. Whether you are seeking online course content or an online textbook there is a site for that and there very well may be an app for that as well.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching), based out of California State University, is an online resource library of peer-reviewed higher education teaching and learning materials. Its goal is “to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning by increasing the quantity and quality of peer reviewed online learning materials that can be easily incorporated into faculty designed courses”. Not only is it a place for students to go to grow and learn through excellent resources posted by educators from all over the world it is also a place for educators to come together and learn from each other thereby improving the quality of the material being taught and shared as well as the pedagogy of the educators sharing the material. It carries materials from a number of different areas from academic support and workforce development to the arts and humanities and tools from animations and simulations to drill and practice and online courses. Each of the separate discipline communities include links tips to improve teaching both with and through technology as well as the people involved in the community, learning materials that have been uploaded and reviewed, resources and professional journals and organizations outside of MERLOT and a “showcase” link that highlights favorite sites or winning learning materials or online content. This would be an excellent site both for myself and my students. I could send my students there to look up materials to supplement their learning. I would also be able to bring materials from the site into my teaching thereby expanding everyone’s knowledgebase with fresh information and research while knowing that the material has been vetted and peer reviewed before I ever saw it. It would also be a great resource for me as a first time teacher to gain tips and tricks and build up my pedagogical knowledge by learning from many different colleagues from around the world.

Project Gutenberg is a free eBook site that currently carries 42,000 different books. I have been following Project Gutenberg off and on since the 1990s when the goal was to digitize as many books as possible in order to make them more easily available to the masses and preserve old and fragile volumes for posterity. The historical meaning behind calling it Project Gutenberg was not and never has been lost to me. This project was the first of its kind just as the Gutenberg Bible was the first of its kind. They started out in the simplest of ASCII text formats and have moved up as the internet and technology has improved to HTML, PDF and other formats that make it possible to download the book of your choice to your eReader of choice. This is a wonderful site and a wonderful project that allows books and reading to be brought to the masses with little to no cost. As an educator this is an excellent resource to send students to for free versions of great literature. This would be especially useful to me as an English Literature teacher by giving my students a place to get the books for free rather than paying exorbitant prices at the bookstore for a hard copy that many may never open. As the history teacher I would like to be this would be a great place to send students for eBooks that supplement their understanding of the time period we are studying. There is much that can be gleaned and understood about a society and its leadership and thought patterns through the writings of its authors.


MIT TeenTV (Producer). (2010). Open education for an open world [Video file]. Retrieved from

Video games as learning tools

Games are an amazing way to learn without really knowing it is happening. Games are fun. Games make learning fun. Games allow students to choose how they engage the content and material. With games learners are taken out of the traditional model of learning by rote, having the information shoved into our heads in order to be spewed out later for the test and placed in a world where we are in control of what and how we learn. As adult learners we are well aware that excellent learning, learning that sticks with us and keeps us engaged does not follow a cookie cutter model of rote memorization and doing the same thing in the same way. If we understand this and follow the self-directed model of learning we have been learning about throughout this program we discover that games are indeed one of the best places to learn many things like problem-solving, critical thinking and negotiation skills as well as the desire to continue learning. Game-based learning is often like the Montessori system as discussed by Squire (2011). Many games grow organically based on the natural choices of the gamer just as many Montessori students learn organically based on their natural interests and choices. This makes both gaming and learning “normal” in that they occur naturally rather than “normed” in that they follow a set standard or pattern. Learning in that organic, natural state is like breathing, we don’t realize we are doing it until we stop.

I dream of teaching history at some point in my life and there are many games I would use to help my students engage in a subject that has been poorly taught for many years. These are games I play myself simply for the experience and pleasure they bring me. Many I played in their board game format in high school classes with teachers who were very forward thinking. Many are games I have picked up over the years because of the content and, honestly, the ability to mash up the history even just a little. Two of these games are Diplomacy and Civilization. Diplomacy is a game where you are placed in historical Europe (usually during the Napoleonic era) and your goal is to conquer all of Europe. I played the board game version of Diplomacy in my high school world history class as a supplement to the course material we were learning. The teacher broke us up into teams (countries) and we had to decide what we were going to do each turn as far as protecting our region and gaining control of other regions. We had to learn how to problem-solve and negotiate with each other and other teams as we worked out treaties or terms of surrender. I have had the PC version of the game for years and found that it was not quite as exciting or engaging sitting alone playing against a computer. However, I have recently stumbled upon the online version of the game which brings back the need for those problem-solving and negotiation skills because you have to be able to work with people from around the world in order to make the game work. What I envision for my class is similar to what happened in my high school class. I would break the class up into teams that would be specific countries within the game and then set up a game on the website for them to sign into and start playing.  Since this can be a very prolonged turn-based game it would be an ongoing game over the period of the course. At two week intervals I would ask the groups to report back to me about how the game is going and about any obstacles they had to overcome or problems that needed to be solved in order to keep the game going. I would also ask them to relate their game experience to the historical experience in Europe and how the use or misuse of diplomacy and diplomatic skills can help or hurt alliances and national cohesion.

Civilization is a simulation game like SimCity where you can play against the computer or other people. In the game you are given a map and
you start building your own civilization based on one of the most recognized human civilizations of your choosing. Generally you start off in the Stone Age and build up from there over the next 2000 years; however, you can set up your own personal scenarios and map layouts depending on how long you want to play or what you are trying to accomplish. The interesting thing about Civilization, and one of the reasons I personally enjoy playing it, is that you are not stuck with following the history as we know it. This is mentioned in chapter six of the Squire book where he discusses using the game in a high school social studies class (2011). You are able to simulate any scenario you wish from the Chinese discovering Europe to the Native Americans discovering Africa. The game offers many wonderful learning nuggets for a history course like the connections between geography, history, economics, politics, religion and military skill. Understanding these connections is vital in taking the study of social studies and history beyond the typical list of people, dates and battles and showing how one area connects to another. This is why I would incorporate Civilization into my classroom.  Placing students in charge of their own civilizations requires them to learn how to manage all of those connections and the resources that come with them. They are forced to critically think and problem-solve in order to succeed. They are also allowed to don new personas and experiment with ideas and rules in a way they are not allowed to do by simply going through the textbook. This critical reflection engages students in what they are learning and builds an understanding of why something worked or did not work throughout history and in some ways creates better citizens out of my students.


Normal (n.d.) In Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. Retrieve from

Squire, K. (2011). Video games and learning: Teaching and participatory culture in the digital age. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Mobile technology in education

Mobile technology and mobile applications are here and here to stay. Almost everyone has a smartphone and/or a tablet with them at all times and they use them for everything from entertaining the kids to work projects to staying connected with family and friends to finding recipes for dinner to checking on class work and class projects.  With that ability these technologies and the applications that are available for them can be extremely useful in our fast-paced, always connected, rat race world. Mobile education is the wave of the future and there are so many ways for adult learners to engage in and push this awesome use of technology into new avenues.

Smartphones and tablets are amazing educational tools when used with understanding and clarity of purpose.  They truly do make learning open and available everywhere and anywhere at any time. They also help to bring the real world into the classroom (Wylie, 2013). This is important in today’s educational world as more and more of our students, both children and adults, are “digital natives” or at least digitally fluent. This almost organic digital understanding means that our current methods of teaching and learning are as sorely outmoded and obsolete as our classroom technology becomes every six months. Using smartphones and tablets in our classrooms will enhance the learning of our students because they are far more comfortable with the tools available to them. When you close off these tools you close off learning and limit your students.

How do you make smartphones and tablets useful and amazing educational tools? You add applications to them that make learning interesting and engaging or place other opportunities and tools in their hands. Two such applications are Dropbox and Blackboard mobile. With Dropbox students are able to save, maintain, work with and share any and all of their coursework, research and personal documents on multiple platforms. That ability to access and work with their work on any device opens the material and the learning to them on a broader level and keeps them engaged in the course and the activities involved. Also because the material is saved to the Dropbox website if something happens to your primary access point (desktop, laptop, smartphone, etc.) the learner still has access through different means. Blackboard mobile brings all the functions and capabilities of Blackboard to the student’s mobile device making class available at any time in a dynamic fashion. On top of that it brings the campus, student life and other learning tools to the student’s fingertips. If a student is studying animal behavior in class he or she is able to look up the class material on animal behavior and view videos again or check course discussions or blogs and keep up with the work. When students need library services they are there for them. If a student wants to know when and where the next campus shuttle or bus will be available Blackboard mobile will show him or her. It can also show them how to get from one side of campus to the other. What is the college experience without the student life? Blackboard mobile brings that to a student’s fingertips as well showing students what is going on and where giving them easy access to campus happenings. Another wonderful feature is the ability to integrate the Dropbox application. All of these abilities make Blackboard mobile the ultimate portable campus directory and learning tool for today’s adult learner.

Smartphones and tablets are awesome tools to open learning to students on their terms and in their comfort zones. Dropbox and Blackboard mobile are applications that engage the students in their learning and make it fun and interesting. Using Dropbox will give my students the freedom and opportunity to create and share materials with each other allowing for improved collaboration and group projects. It will also give them the comfort of knowing that they have access wherever they are and whenever they need it. It also allows me to share things with the students. Blackboard mobile makes mobile learning everything it should be. My students will be able to use it to connect with every aspect of the school and class and open their minds to the possibilities of learning in general and mobile learning in particular. When these two applications are combined my students are given the mobile learning world quite literally at their fingertips freeing them to truly engage in that learning and making it truly a part of themselves.


Blackboard mobile. Retrieved from

Dropbox. Retrieved from!/tour/0

Wylie, J. (2013). Mobile learning technologies for 21st century classrooms. Retrieved from  

Social networking in education

What do you think of when you hear the words social networking? For many, including myself, our minds automatically travel to thoughts of Facebook and Twitter. With the overload of memes of anthropomorphized cats and recipe sharing on Facebook and the 140 character limit of Twitter we would not necessarily think of these applications as having any sort of educational benefit or role. We look at these sites as places to socialize, places to meet up with friends (people we have an interest in) and share whatever makes us happy, makes us wonder, makes us think of the other person, not as places to meet based on our shared interest in a particular subject (Richardson, 2010). Yet, they and many other such applications certainly have that opportunity.

Schooltube is one such application. Schooltube, like YouTube, allows people to create and upload videos for viewing by others. The difference here is that it is the teacher and students of a particular class who are creating and uploading the videos for that particular class. Schooltube allows the teacher to upload a video of the day’s lecture so that students can see it before class, where students would be spending their time in learning activities rather than listening to lecture, or so that absent students can watch and not be lost when they come back to class. This allows the teacher to create a flipped classroom where students learn by doing in the classroom and getting lecture and information before class at times and in ways convenient to them. Schooltube also allows students to share videos with their classes. These can be collaborative interactive homework assignments or ones they find elsewhere that help them understand the material. I find that Schooltube has a great deal to offer adult education from the flipped classroom concept to the connected learning occurring by engaging students in topics and through applications of interest to them (Ito, 2013). So many students are lost when they lose interest or have no way to connect to other with those interests.

Edmodo offers a space for students and teachers to come together around a subject even when they are separated by distance. Like Facebook and Twitter, it allows the class group, as set up by the teacher, to comment and post about whatever the subject might be. Like Twitter, the class can easily “follow” a topic, post, comment or any other subject they might find interesting to follow. It creates a sense of learning through fun again. Everyone feels connected, engaged and excited about learning and everyone can communicate easily and efficiently in a space that is familiar and comfortable, bringing the bricks and mortar classroom into the digital sphere. It also has many features that are similar Blackboard which will be familiar to any students who have taken online classes almost anywhere. These include a calendar that the teacher puts up and the ability to turn in assignments on the Edmodo site rather than being forced to turn them in during class.

The ability that both of the applications has to at least partially flip the class so that class time can be used in engaging and active learning makes them interesting and useful options in any learning setting. Although I am somewhat shy and introverted, I would definitely use Schooltube to create and upload lecture videos so that more of my class time can be spent engaged in active learning through deeper discussion or role play. I would also allow my students to use Schooltube as a way to engage in and communicate their pleasure and knowledge in what interests them whether it be about the subject we are learning in class or any other. Any time we can engage students in their interests and allow them to share those interests is a time where we build bridges and connections with others rather than push people away and create division. With Edmodo, I would create another place where the learning and engagement can continue after the class period is over or before it even begins helping students maintain and build their interest. I would also take advantage of the ability to use Edmodo for students to turn in assignments and ask advice on those assignments. The more time I can spend in class actively engaging in the material with my students, the more time we have to grow as a learning community with shared interests and goals which is just as vital in building bridges to today’s learners as giving space to their individual interests. It is after all all about connection.


Ito, Mizuko, Kris Gutiérrez, Sonia Livingstone, Bill Penuel, Jean

Rhodes, Katie Salen, Juliet Schor, Julian Sefton-Green, S. Craig

Watkins. 2013. Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and

Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Current educational technologies

There are as many educational technologies and applications of those technologies as there are people using them. Many of these technologies such as Blackboard allow us to access an education and learn new skills and ideas from people from all over the world at the touch of a button in the comfort of our own homes or while on the road for work making distance learning a reality for many. Others like Edublogs allow us to share our interests, understandings and questions with a multitude of people online simply by writing them down and publishing them to the web without having to know how to write computer code in order to make it look right and make sense. Even social media sites such as Pintrest and Facebook have their educational uses especially in engaging adult learners in the life and uses of technology to help them learn and grow both as students and human beings. Two current applications I have found quite interesting in their abilities to enhance adult learning are a social learning tool called Quora and the enhancing and engaging educational opportunities surrounding the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) surge in education.

Quora is a tool that can be used by both educators and learners. The site touts itself as the site that “connects you to everything you want to know about” ( It is a social media tool like Facebook that allows people to collect everything they want to know about a certain subject onto “boards” they create about that subject. This can include everything from pictures, videos and information they find on the internet or other places to their own personal writings on the subject. Users can also connect to other people’s boards focusing on some aspect that interests the user/learner as well as allow other users to contribute to their boards creating a collaborative environment. One of the most interesting features of Quora is that you can ask a simple question and that question will likely be answered by someone with knowledge and experience in the field involved whether it be medicine or law, history or math or anything in between. Many times we, as educators, are seen as sages on the mountaintop with all the information and answers at our fingertips or on the tips of our tongues. We know this is not true and our students often learn it when they ask us questions and we have to explain to them that we have no answer and must research and get back to them. By using Qoura as an educator I am able to collect information on the many topics that are of interest to me as well as those topics that are stumping my students thereby keeping all that information at my fingertips. I can also use Quora as a teaching tool allowing students to set up their own accounts in order to research both topics of their own interest and those required for class. This is a wonderful tool for collecting information and research for class projects in a way that is engaging and thought provoking at the same time.

There is an overwhelming growth in looking at the usefulness of and implementing the technological infrastructure on campuses to hold what may very well be the next iteration of on campus, bricks and mortar learning, called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) learning. Almost every student out there has some sort of personal computing device at their fingertips whether it be the latest iPhone or other smartphone or a tablet or an eReader or all of the above. Moreover they are more than comfortable using these devices to their fullest extent both in and out of class. Understanding this it would seem that we are long past fighting students over turning their cellphones off during class. So, as the old adage goes, if you can’t beat them join them. Although there are technological issues that must be studied and overcome as it relates to infrastructure and security, there are any number of advantages to functioning in a BYOD educational society. These include increased student engagement, creating a technology-rich learning environment and opening up new ways of learning (Bring your own device, white paper, 2012). As the aforementioned white paper published by CDW states students who are able to use their own mobile devices anywhere and at any time for learning are more likely to collaborate with other students and the faculty in order to problem solve and critically think. Not only does this engage them with their fellow classmates and teachers on a different level it opens up new ways of learning that are more self-directed and open to collaboration and feedback. I see great advantages and uses for any technology that engages students and helps to make them more self-directed learners. With that I would incorporate BYOD at least on a limited level inside my classroom by allowing students to bring their devices in order to take notes, collaborate on projects, open up multimedia files or as polling devices for questions I ask during class. It that way these devices are, albeit more powerful, no different than the typical notebook students bring to class now. Another way I would use BYOD technology is by requiring my students to bring their devices to class in order to interact with virtual learning materials and skill sets that only the technology will allow for. This would be especially useful in history and anthropology courses in giving students an up-close and personal experience with the material.

While technology and computers have long been the areas where we store loads of information in smaller and smaller units of virtual space, they can also be tools for helping us critically think and analyze that information in ways that allow us to understand on a deeper and more meaningful level. As Thornburg (2008b) states these technologies, and many others, are doing what we as educators should be doing, “facilitating what we ought to have facilitated all along, which is, given a body of information, what conclusions can you draw from that information that truly advance your understanding of a topic?” Is this not the goal of teaching and learning in the first place?


CDW. (2012). Bring your own device. Retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008b). The impact of technology on learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Emerging educational technologies

Technology is ubiquitous in this day and age and yet, it is an ever growing, ever changing tool that many use on a daily basis for any number of reasons including education. There are so many options when looking at emerging educational technologies that it can be very overwhelming just to look into what is out there. There is everything from incorporating smartphones to tablet PCs to blogs to social media to virtual reality and game-based learning to massive open online courses (MOOCs). While all of these areas have significant uses in education when used correctly and productively the two I am most interested in are game-based learning and MOOCs.

Game-based learning is intriguing to me because I am a strong proponent of having fun while you learn. This comes, in part, from a childhood steeped in educational games and toys including computer games and the pure joy they brought me as I learned (often without thinking about it). It is also due to the knowledge and skills I gained as I grew older and could see the educational impact that gaming could have for students. As the Horizon Report (2012) discusses game-based learning has the potential to teach and improve upon many important skills such as “collaboration, problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and digital literacy” (pg. 19). These are all skills that are highly important today both in education and in the workforce. Another important plus I see with game-based learning is for those students with physical and/or mental impairments that can be improved or helped with the increased hand-eye coordination that comes with the use of game controllers for many of the current gaming systems such as the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii. While there can also be a certain amount of frustration surrounding gaming when things do not go as planned, another perhaps unintended consequence I see is an increase in patience and diligence as students/gamers work through problems both within the  game and with the technology itself thus using and improving their problem solving skills. Games make learning fun and allow the learner to step outside of his or her generally prescribed role and learning location. Video games allow students to be transported to ancient sites, work on medical issues and/or step into roles they never imagined they could be in from the relative comfort of the classroom or their own homes. This allows them to engage in the activity and make mistakes and course corrections without fatal consequences. As James Gee (2011) discusses it allows them to design their own learning and teaching in a way that works for them. I personally love playing video games and would incorporate them into a classroom setting as a way to improve my students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills especially as they relate to social and historical problems. In so doing I can also help them improve their collaboration and communication skills by requiring them to work in teams to solve problems in order to reach the next game level. As I discussed earlier I would also incorporate gaming as a way to improve hand-eye coordination for students who would benefit in that arena.

Another emerging technology that intrigues me is the growth in massive open online courses (MOOCs). MOOCs are online courses that are often maintained through a major university or school but are free and open to anyone with interest and access to the course. While there is the underlying structure of the course being taught, MOOCs allow for a level of flexibility, openness and collaboration that is not necessarily available in a typical classroom setting with the limited number of students involved. “A MOOC throws open the doors of a course and invites anyone to enter, resulting in a new learning dynamic, one that offers remarkable collaborative and conversational opportunities for students to gather and discuss the course content” (Educause, 2011, pg. 2). While the sheer number of students, ideas and conversations that can be involved in such an open course can be overwhelming and off-putting to some students and teachers, MOOCs offer any number of intriguing and useful opportunities for the growth and continuation of education itself into the future not the least of which is reducing barriers and opening education to any all who seek it. At this point I am not sure how I would incorporate the opportunity to open a specific course to any and every one. This takes online and distance learning to a whole new level. However, I do see the benefits to all students, faculty and educational institutions of reducing the barriers to a decent education and opening institutions to a new student population they may not have thought of reaching.


Educause Learning Initiative. (2011). 7 things you should know about MOOCs. Retrieved from

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