Literature Review: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Learning Environments

Abstract

The purpose of this document is to restate and review the trends in the practices and uses of emerging technologies that have and will continue to have a large impact on learning environments such as K-12 schools and higher education. This document more specifically addresses how those emerging technologies may have an impact on the developing model of Blended Learning and within it, the Station Rotation model which includes online instruction, teacher-led instruction, and other collaborative activities and stations. The overall objective of this innovation plan is to improve the system of education in the elementary school level in all content areas by implementing the Station Rotation model via the Blended Learning model (Horn & Staker, 2015). 

The primary sources of information referenced within this document include Blended: Using Disruptive Innovations to Improve Schools, Internet Trends by Mary Meeker, EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR), the “Horizon Report: K-12,” the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Teaching and Learning with Technology, Knewton, and the U.S. Department of Education. Although all of the sources referenced within this document mention practices and uses of emerging technologies, not all are specific to the field of education.

Literature Review: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Learning Environments in K-12 Schools and Higher Education

Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker’s (2015) Blended: Using Disruptive Innovations to Improve Schools is a guide for designing, implementing, and assessing blended learning and its techniques in K-12 schools. Horn and Staker define blended learning as any formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace (2015, p. 34). Second, the student learns at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 35). And third, the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 35). Within blended learning, the Rotation model includes any course or subject in which students rotate—either on a fixed schedule or at the teacher’s discretion—among learning modalities, at least one of which is online learning (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 38). And within the Rotation model, the Station Rotation model is a course or subject in which students experience the Rotation model within a contained classroom or group of classrooms (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 55). Students rotate through all of the stations which comprise of online instruction, teacher-led instruction, and other collaborative activities and stations (Horn & Staker, 2015, p. 56).

Two of Horn and Staker’s (2015) examples of the implementation of blended learning are KIPP Empower’s and Mission Dolores Academy’s adoptions of the Station Rotation model in their schools despite their financial troubles in sustaining their disruptive innovation. Alliance College-Ready Public Schools has also adopted the Station Rotation model to provide the same material in three different ways, and The Avenues: World School provides students with laptops and an open learning environment to support the same Rotation model. Horn and Staker (2015) provide other examples of the implementation of blended learning, but exhibit the adoption of other models such as Individual Rotation, Lab Rotation, Flipped Classroom, Flex, Enriched Virtual, A La Carte, and other mixed models. Although variations in implementation exist, most of Horn and Staker’s examples of the adoption of blended learning have demonstrated outcomes that reveal a positive effect on students’ learning environments.

In fact, Mary Meeker, a partner at Venture Capital (VC) firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), reports in Internet Trends 2014 at the Code Conference that personalized education is “ramping.” Meeker explains that people learn in different ways and that the Internet offers many options—on their own terms and at a low cost—to many, with real-time feedback (s. 26). In that same report, Meeker mentions that more than 25 million people use the Duolingo application to learn new languages. Meeker also states that online courses help the learning process for both teachers and students. There are over 430 million views on Khan Academy’s YouTube channel, 65 million courses downloaded from the iTunes U Open University, and 7 million students enrolled in Coursera courses, sixty-percent being from outside of North America (s. 27, 28). Meeker not only presents statistics that support the rise in use of technology in areas such as tech stocks, healthcare, international, public companies, and others, but she also supports its transformation in students’ learning environments in emerging education-related technologies, like blended learning.

Similarly, EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) provides user data, higher education technology trends and practices, and collaboration opportunities for IT professionals and higher education leaders. ECAR has surveyed undergraduate students and faculty annually since 2004 about technology in higher education. ECAR has collaborated with various institutions to collect responses from tens of thousands of undergraduate students and faculty across 13 countries. According to Dahlstrom’s (2012) ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, students say that blended learning environments are not only the norm, but also best support how they learn. This same trend was mentioned in future studies from ECAR. In the 2014 Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies report, also by ECAR, the majority of the 75,000 students that were surveyed said they learned best with a blend of online and face-to-face work (Dahlstrom et al., 2014). More students own Internet-capable devices now than ever, and they are ready to use them for academic purposes (Dahlstrom et al., 2015). The ECAR studies also present the challenges in the practices and uses of emerging technologies which include but are not partial to limited mobile-friendly resources and activities, limited professional development and training opportunities (Dahlstrom, 2012), infrastructure barriers such as lack of charging outlets and/or charging stations and insufficient network access, privacy issues (Dahlstrom et al., 2013), and the potential for distraction (Dahlstrom et al., 2014).

Likewise, the “Horizon Report: K-12” volumes, a part of the Horizon Report series is the most visible outcome of the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project, an ongoing research effort established in 2002 that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact within the environment of pre-college education (Johnson et al., 2010, p. 3). In their 2010 report, Johnson, Smith, Levine, and Haywood begin to realize that technology is increasingly a means for empowering students, a method for communication and socializing, and a ubiquitous, transparent part of their lives. They also state that the “spaces” where students learn are becoming more community-driven, interdisciplinary, and supported by technologies that engage virtual communication and collaboration (p. 4). Two years later, Johnson, Adams, and Cummins (2012) find that education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning, and collaborative models, the cost of technology is dropping, and that there is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based, active learning (p. 7, 8). That same report also emphasizes the need for students to get a well-rounded education with real world experiences and informal in-class activities as well as learn to learn outside the classroom (p. 9).

In 2013, the “Horizon Report: K-12” begins to mention how “openness”—concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information—is becoming a value (Johnson et al., p. 7). One of the fastest key trends and critical challenges in their 2014 report is the notion of rethinking the role of the teacher. Teachers are increasingly expected to be adept at a variety of technology-based practices for content delivery, learner support, and assessment, to collaborate with other teachers, to use digital strategies in their work with students, to act as guides and mentors to promote student-centered learning, and to organize their own work and comply with administrative documentation and reporting requirements. Students, along with their families, add to these expectations through their own use of technology. As this trend and challenge gains popularity, many schools across the world are rethinking the primary responsibilities of teachers (Johnson et al., 2014, p. 6). In their annual reports, the advisory board also notes the critical challenges that schools face. Those challenges include but are not partial to limited training in digital literacy skills and techniques, control costs while still providing a high quality of service, and the demand for personalized learning is not adequately supported by current technology or practices (Johnson, Adams, & Haywood, 2011, p. 5).

Correspondingly, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the use of information technology to aid in the learning and teaching of K-12 students and teachers. In their annual 2015 report, out of the 17,470 members, 92 countries are represented, 32 are corporate members, and 77 are affiliates (ISTE, 2015). Forty-one percent of their primary curriculum focus is technology education (ISTE, 2015). That same year, ISTE reached more educators and learners than ever before. From their global conference and expo and the ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading, to their membership and access to ed tech content and resources, ISTE has continued to support educators as they navigate decisions about curriculum, instruction, professional learning and technology (ISTE, 2015). In ISTE’s published book Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools, authors Gwen Solomon and Lynne Schrum (2007) describe how students are strong believers in the power of technology to enrich their learning experiences. They continue to mention that students have ideas about their futures that include using technology tools for learning and preparing themselves for a competitive job market (p. 27). And Solomon and Schrum’s solution is using collaboration and communication tools with educational methods that also promote these skills—such as project-based learning and blended learning—to help students acquire the abilities they need for the future (Solomon & Schrum, 2007, p. 18).

Even more, Teaching and Learning with Technology by authors Judy Lever-Duffy and Jean B. McDonald (2011), provides a look at the range of educational technologies available for use in today’s classrooms, and the many ways technology can be used to effectively improve teaching and learning. One of the ideas that Lever-Duffy and McDonald explore is virtual reality worlds in education. There is a tremendous potential for teachers and students to be able to take a full-immersion field trip to another country, the bottom of the ocean, another planet or even inside the human body (Lever-Duffy & McDonald, 2011, p. 371). Equally valuable are the opportunities for students with physical disabilities to explore virtual worlds without impediments. Lever-Duffy and McDonald mention one online virtual reality world that is called Second Life (p. 373). In Second Life, the user creates an avatar and explores and experiences the digital world. The Swedish government, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the United States Air Force all have been known to use Second Life for research and training purposes (p. 373). The integration of virtual reality worlds with blended learning could potentially create positive outcomes in students’ experiences in learning.

Interestingly, Knewton (n. d.), an adaptive learning platform company, published an infographic on what blended learning is, why it’s spreading, and how it works in the classroom. Named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in education by Fast Company, Knewton has confirmed that in 2000, 45,000 K-12 students took an online course; in 2009, more than 3 million K-12 students took an online course, and in 2019, it is projected that fifty percent of high school courses will be delivered online. Knewton also reports how Rocketship Education’s adoption of the Rotation model of blended learning has achieved 93 percent proficiency in math and 75 percent proficiency in language arts, beating state averages by 29 and 17 points, respectively. Another adopter of the Rotation model, Carpe Diem Collegiate High School, ranked first in its county in student math and reading performance. That same year, U.S. News and World Report recognized the school as one of the top high schools in America. Other examples provided by Knewton show successful results of adoptions of other models within blended learning. For example, High Tech High School reported that 100 percent of graduates were accepted to college in 2010.

Last but not least, a report that examines various studies, “Understanding the Implications of Online Learning for Educational Productivity,” the U.S. Department of Education has established that students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction (Bakia et al., 2012, p. A-12). The department also confirmed that instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction (Bakia et al., 2012, p. A-12).

In summary, the general findings of this document conclude that the use of technology in education is on the rise, and the adoption of blended learning in K-12 schools and higher education is not only growing, but it is also changing the way students learn. Although many drawbacks like elevated control costs, lack of training, and limited infrastructure limit the implementation of a model like blended learning, they do not outweigh the rewards. Blended learning, more specifically, the Station Rotation model, has proven to provide equal or greater academic and social achievement results. Students learn as well or even better through a blended learning model than through face-to-face instruction only. The goal here, is to improve students’ learning experiences and environments. All in all, the plan is to improve the system of education in the elementary school level in all content areas by implementing the Station Rotation model via the Blended Learning model (Horn & Staker, 2015).

References

Bakia, M., Shear, L., Toyama, Y., & Lasseter, A. (2012). Understanding the Implications of

Online Learning for Educational Productivity. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education. Office of Educational Technology. (PDF). Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov/files/2013/10/implications-online-learning.pdf

Dahlstrom, Eden. (2012). ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology,

  1. 2012. EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR). Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2012/9/ecar-study-of-undergraduate-students-and-information-technology-2012

Dahlstrom, E., Brooks, D. C., & Bichsel, J. (2014) 2014 Student and Faculty Technology

Research Studies. EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR). Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2014/10/2014-student-and-faculty-technology-research-studies

Dahlstrom, E., Brooks, D. C., Grajek, S., & Reeves, J. (2015) 2015 Student and Faculty

Technology Research Studies. EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR). Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2015/8/2015-student-and-faculty-technology-research-studies

Dahlstrom, E., Walker, J. D., Dziuban, C. D., & Morgan, G. (2013). ECAR Study of

Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013. EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Reaserach (ECAR). Retrieved from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2013/9/ecar-study-of-undergraduate-students-and-information-technology-2013

Horn, M. B., & Staker, H. (2015). Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools

(First ed.). San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2015). ISTE 2015 Annual Report.

Retrieved from http://staging.iste.org/docs/pdfs/iste-annual-report_2015_final-rev2_web.pdf?sfvrsn=0.7467565010954684

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition.

Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013).

NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report:

2014 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report:

2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Haywood, K., (2011). The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12

Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2010). 2010 Horizon Report: K-12

Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Knewton. (n. d.). Blended Learning: A Disruptive Innovation. (Infographic). Retrieved from

https://www.knewton.com/infographics/blended-learning/

Lever-Duffy, J., & McDonald, J. B. (2011). Teaching and Learning with Technology (Fourth

ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson Education Inc.

Meeker, Mary. (2014) Internet Trends 2014-Code Conference. Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

(KPCB). Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2014/05/28/heres-mary-meekers-big-deck-on-key-internet-trends/

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools (First ed.). Eugene,

Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education.

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4 thoughts on “Literature Review: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on Learning Environments

  1. Pingback: My Implementation Plan: Blended Learning and the Station Rotation Model – Lifelong Learning in a Changing World

  2. Pingback: Putting It All Together – Lifelong Learning in a Changing World

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