Six technologies that soon could be in your classrooms

“The conceptual basis for PLEs has shifted significantly in the last year, as smart phones, tablets, and apps have begun to emerge as a compelling alternative to browser-based PLEs and ePortfolios,” says the report.

The only barriers to adoption, says the report, is that PLEs rely on a system of enabling technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile devices that make the PLE environment portable, networked, and personally relevant—components that schools might not have yet.

In four to five years

According to the report, augmented reality doesn’t just belong in Star Trek anymore, and “this intuitive doorway” to data can be easily attached to real-world objects, settings, and processes in a way that facilitates a deeper understanding of what is being seen.

Already, history and science museums use augmented reality to show visitors the science behind a phenomenon as it happens, or what a building looked like centuries ago as they view it through the camera on their smart phones or tablets.

However, the lack of school-based examples lands this technology on the far horizon.

Natural user interfaces is another technology on the far horizon, which make the technology we use “far simpler and easier to use than ever before,” says the report. Natural user interfaces react to touch, movement, voice, and even facial expressions.

Smart phones, gaming systems (such as Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii), and virtual assistants, such as Siri, use natural user interfaces. This technology, explains the report, can allow for collaborative work and is especially beneficial for the autistic, blind, and deaf.

The report states that the high level of interest and investment in both of these areas are clear indicators that they are worth following closely.

Of all the technologies mentioned in this year’s report, it’s interesting to note that three also were mentioned in the 2011 edition: mobile devices, which were on the same horizon last year, but now include apps; and game-based learning and PLEs, which have both moved up from the far horizon to the mid-horizon.

The report emphasized that it’s not just an interest in technology that influences the adoption horizon. Rather, key trends over the last year make these technologies candidates for adoption.

Key trends include (in order of importance):

Meris Stansbury

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