By Bethany Dotson
As a current master’s student as well as an employee of an educational technology company, I find it fascinating to witness firsthand the broad spectrum of attitudes that my professors have toward smartphones (and technology in general) in the classroom. According to this January article from Tech Crunch, “fighting against the tide is futile” and “U.K. experiments in which schools give students mobile devices in classrooms showed higher motivation, attentiveness and achievement.” Personally, using mobile devices in the classroom for me usually means checking my email and playing solitaire, not higher attentiveness, but I can only speak for myself. However, since we at Gale know that this is coming (and has been going on), we have made great strides in the last twelve months with upgrades to our mobile app and mobile-friendly user interfaces.
In any case, the Tech Crunch article is worth mentioning and, I think, worth breezing through not only for the musings on smartphone use in the classroom and the other tech-focused predictions, but specifically for the section they label “Curation will become crucial.” I’m sure that this won’t be a surprise for any of our readers (except perhaps for the use of “will become”), but it’s nice to see it inclused. This article is targeted more at K-12 schools (as the invocation of the English education minister would indicate), but I see this coming into its own in the academic and higher education sphere as well. “Cognitive overload” has gone from once-remote jargon to a commonly understood—and empathized—state. Librarians are uniquely positioned to come to the rescue here. As Linton Weeks says so well, “In the nonstop tsunami of global information, librarians provide us with floaties and teach us to swim.”
Tech Crunch’s other predictions include “Cloud Will Come Into Its Own,” “Technology Will Get Embedded,” “Expectations Will Increase” (when do they not?), and “Parents Use Technology to Complement Passions.” The “Expectations will Increase” makes me think particularly about the difference in expectations—or perhaps the lack of difference in expectations—between consumer technology and educational technology. This could be its own blog post—or blog post series—but it’s an interesting concept to ponder. Should students’ expectations be different between consumer technology and educational technology? Is it right, or necessary, or meaningful, or valuable for students to interact differently with educational technology—say, library databases or digital archives or LMS systems like BlackBoard—than with Google, their Android phones, their Fitbit, and their Xbox? As Google, Apple, and Microsoft get farther into the realm of educational technology, I see these questions getting even more pressing and interesting.
I raise more questions here than answers, but I think that’s typical of where we are, as well. What are your predictions and expectations for technology in education in 2015, and what does that mean for your library?
About the Author
Bethany is an avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and travel maven. She’s a proud UMich alum with a BA in English & Spanish. While currently working on her MBA, she looks forward to graduating so she has time for hobbies again!