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Prevalent trends relating to technology and teaching/Learning

In the past, the focus of research related to educational technology and teaching has focused on fundamental principles of education and technology integration. Initially, the primary focus of educational technologists was developing proficient methods of instruction that could be used to integrate current technology in the classroom. This focus on instructional design dominated research for several years until accepted methods were optimized. The focus then shifted from instructional design to message design or the format of computer mediated instruction. Which different treatment methods worked the most effectively among individuals that learn in a variety of ways? Once technology advanced to the degree that advanced computer graphics became affordable, the focus of educational technology shifted to the development of computer simulations. “The critical feature of simulations, for learning, is the student’s ability to act on the environment experimentally, not simply to observe it” (Winn 2002). This constructivist approach to learning is shaping emerging trends in computer mediation teaching and student learning. Current research in educational technology is directed in three main areas: • Learning environments: The traditional classroom is evolving from face-to-face instruction to a blended teaching approach. Many new methods focus on creating artificial learning environments through the use of course management systems and virtual worlds. Instructors are testing strategies in which fundamentals are distributed online, with in class time reserved for experimentation, and more focused application centered activities. • Social aspects of learning: When students were surveyed about the most important aspects of online learning, the sense of a community within the learning environment and personalized attention from the instructor have rated as some of the most important. Online learning has moved passed traditional methods of information distribution to creating learning through the synthesis of knowledge and experience. And students experience this synthesis by communicating and sharing information with their learning communities. • Decreasing the digital divide: As many institutions of learning, including K-12 and universities, strive to increase enrollment, revenue, and provide flexible options for their students, technology access has become of critical importance. With many students balancing extracurricular responsibilities, such as work and family, students have required the flexibility that technology has afforded. The challenge has come with offering courses within the technological limits in some student’s locations. There are renewed efforts focusing on creating options for greater access to digital technologies at an affordable price. Winn, William . “Current Trends in Educational Technology Research: The Study of Learning Environments.” Educational Psychology Review Volume 14, No.3.September 2002.-outlines emerging trends in educational technology http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.123.9357 – comprehensive outline of blended learning http://eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED432668.pdf – outline of the UK governmental initiative for educational technology and virtual education http://www.teach-nology.com/currenttrends/ -this site primarily promotes a paid service, but does provide several references to current trends in teaching http://www.teach-nology.com/currenttrends/tech_in_teaching/ http://thejournal.com/articles/2010/04/23/5-trends-in-education-technology-leadership.aspx -summary of a federal report on state sponsored advances in technological leadership in schools http://www2.ed.gov/programs/edtech/index.html – outline of the US Department of Education “Enhancing Education Through Technology State Program”

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