Pip Cleaves presented recently to the CSU MEd INF537 cohort about her journey leading learning and she mentioned the Diffusion of Innovation (Rogers, 2003). Tom Fishburn from Skydeckcartoons.com captures the Diffusion of Innovation cycle perfectly in his cartoon that primarily deals with the cycle of new product adoption, but the same cycle works for the adoption of technology in the classroom environment.
This made me reflect on what category I naturally fall into and I would say possibly the early majority group is where I fit best. However, the challenge for me is that I’m in a job role where I have to be an innovator and early adopter so that I can mentor others in the uptake. To be honest when I first started I felt like a fish out of water having to take risks, learn rapidly and eventually share widely. But I can say the more that I have been challenged in my role the more comfortable I am.
This is the difficulty and the challenge that I face when I am training VET practitioners from all around Australia in the ways technology can support and augment their training. Through the wide variety of programs that I have put together we now cater for people from early adopters all the way through to laggards.
The RIPPLES model that Surry, Ensminger and Haab (2005) created and Jaskinski (2006) used as the basis for the VET sector research project Innovate and integrate: Embedding innovative practices, has formed the basis for much of the professional learning series of sessions around elearning implementation and modelling of a champion model that I develop for organisations and for the Department of Training and Workforce Development. RIPPLES is the acronym for the seven components of the model: resources, infrastructure, people, policies, learning, evaluation and support.
The champion model picks up the innovators and early adopters and encourages these individuals or groups to share their stories with others. The E-learning Quality Model developed by the National VET E-Learning Strategy in 2014 and helps our champions by defining quality expectations of elearning more clearly. It is designed to help RTOs and to give them a competitive advantage. But it does assist practitioners in aligning their resources to a framework.
In my dynamic and technology rich life it is interesting to reflect on my teaching to see how I am tracking against my peers with integration of technology to support my pedagogical practice. This personal reflection is something that we as teachers need to do often to ensure that we are still meeting the needs of our clients (the students), to ensure that they are going to have the lifelong skills to succeed in this New World.
It is easy to think from my perspective that technology has always been there, for a large portion of the population it has. My job would not exist if it were not for technology as I am a technology mentor and professional presenter of everything elearning. I remember when I first started working (all those years ago) and suggested that I would like to do some training on computers for my professional development. My boss at the time was sceptical as he really didn’t see the trend catching on but let me do it anyway, fortunately for me that professional development has become a lifelong career.
Technology is now everywhere almost insidious with how it has wriggled into every aspect of our daily lives, but the real trick for educationalists is to know how to harness technology to augment teaching and learning for the betterment of students.
In certain situations the use of technology can be harnessed for teaching the theory behind a topic. However, in the VET sector (and any other sector for that matter) there are just times when for safety reasons the learner needs to have a teacher, trainer mentor or workplace supervisor standing with them to see that they are safe.
For instance the very first time a student uses a metal lathe should not be after they are watched a video created by their tutor then move out unsupervised into a workplace to work on the equipment. It is a recipe for disaster, that being said in a well-constructed course then a student will has the skills and abilities (thanks to working with a teacher/trainer/mentor etc) to achieve a physical component of assessment.
The most is important thought for teacher and learner alike in this new age is that everyone must become lifelong learners. Admittedly this can be confronting for some, but being open to learn from anyone is a very important skills set to obtain. In reflection of what has been happening in the VET sector in WA over the past few years, to be honest, this is not always the case. Some lecturers have their “happy place” and do not like to be challenged or even asked to move outside of their comfort zone to improve their teaching for the betterment of students. Yes there is a requirement that VET trainers all must have a certain amount of professional development a year, but nothing stops them from walking into a room signing on the role then sitting there doing nothing. They get the credit for attending but no actual learning.
This is not to say that there are some very good practitioners who are doing amazing blended and technology enhanced lessons. I myself when I was a VET lecturer had to foresight to let my students help “take control” of their learning.
I was training education assistants in a face-to-face environment who were due to go out on their block placement, the students had heard that I also trained online and begged me to setup an online site that they could stay in contact with each other for support throughout their placement. I was dubious but set it up and sat back to watch what would happen. Many students posted in what was happening and the positives of their placement, others posted up questions for help finally other posted up problems they needed help with. Not one topic was not course related and the students became a very close knitted group who managed together (with the help of myself) to get through their placements and secure jobs. The highlight was that this group did over 1000 discussion forum postings, all on topic and all supportive in nature when required within a 3 month period. These student were all seen as “technology challenged” by other trainers, but took to this system like ducks to water because they had the support of not only myself but of my students as well.
It is said that everything old is new again perhaps it is true of this new paradigm. After all we are adjusting our mindset to view things in a different way, much like when any major new system or way of thinking is introduced. We are in the settling period, but eventually education will catch-up to everyday life.
The superhighway is at our doorstep and as long as we have the imagination and the willingness to grasp hold and be willing to learn the really the future is a bright one, maybe so bright you have to wear shades.
With technology becoming more pervasive in our everyday lives and being prevalent in classrooms it is interesting to stop and take stock and reflect on technology trends from the past to inform us on what worked well and what didn’t. By reflecting on this I believe that I can fix my sight on the future and move forward with knowledge.
It is always the risk, should you be an early adopter of a technology on the forefront trying to work out how to fit it into a class, or should you sit back and wait for it to become mainstream and are forced to use it because your organisation has created a user policy. The key question to ask, as an educator is; Why should we use technology in the classroom? (Drager, 1, 2015)
As a teacher it is always important to think about the affordances to technology that you are considering implementing in the class. Bower (2008) outlined an affordance classification system, that is incredible useful to work through when deciding on technology for the classroom, a process I went through for the Moodle Learning Management System (Drager, 2, 2015).
As a trainer when I go to use a new technology I will put it through an affordance review and also reflect on my own TPACK (Drager,3, 2015) with the technology to ensure that I am not just using a trendy new technology for the sake of it but there are solid links to curriculum.
Reflecting on technology trends from the past 10 years has been an interesting undertaking, especially in relation to what I personally used in education. It is interesting that though LMSs have been around for over 15 years that they still remain a critical part of the e-learning landscape, but the question is for how long (Conole, 2012)? I can map how I have taught by the technology that I used personally. Some key highlights from the years include:
2006 learning to develop web content for my Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) which opened up an awareness of digital creation and curation.
2007 the year of Virtual Worlds and social networks, with exciting projects such as ‘Virtual World’s – Real Learning’ from the then Australian Flexible Learning Framework inspiring people from the VET sector which opened up a huge new realm for me.
2010, mobile media tablets changed workplace training due to the simplicity of use and ease of integration.
Gartner every year puts out a Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. 2014 shows types of technology that have been around for a while but appear simply because they’ve gained mainstream attention, such as gamification.
The Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies should be studied with a critical eye own in relation to education but linked to other important reports such as the Horizon Report to identify critical trends that will indeed support teaching and learning. When you compare 2012 to 2014 Hype Cycles you are able to see that BYOD was at its zenith in 2012, but does not even rate a mention in 2014. What does this mean to us in education and the trends in technology? Simply if there’s enough ‘hype’ around technology it can very quickly be adopted into mainstream and education.
Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies. Educational Media International, 45(1), 3-15. doi:10.1080/09523980701847115
Conole, G. (2015). Designing for Learning in an Open World (1st ed., pp. 47-63). Dordrecht: Springer. Retrieved from http://csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=1030803&echo=1&userid=Kw3jR%2bAhgEwAdjjiAfq0LQ%3d%3d&tstamp=1427684336&id=99B29BF9A978474F0ED16153A21450DBF7961F02
Drager, Y. 1, (2015). Affordances of Moodle – a multiplatform application. Yvette’s Reflective journal – A site of Discovery. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2015/01/19/affordances-of-moodle-a-multiplatform-application/
Drager, Y. (2015). TPACK framework. Yvette’s Reflective Blog : A site of Discovery. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2015/01/12/tpack-framework/
Drager, Y. (2015). Why should we use technology in the classroom?. Yvette’s Reflective Journal – A site of discovery. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/yvette/2015/01/12/why-we-should-use-technology-in-the-classroom/
Gartner,. (2014). Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2012. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2124315
Gartner,. (2014). Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2014. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2819918
The New Media Consortium,. (2014). NMC Horizon. Retrieved 30 March 2015, from http://www.nmc.org/nmc-horizon/
Web.archive.org,. (2007). Australian Flexible Learning Framework – Virtual Worlds – Real Learning!. Retrieved 30 March 2015, from http://web.archive.org/web/20070613001430/http://www.flexiblelearning.net.au/flx/go/home/projects/2006/newpractices2006/pid/368
Wikipedia,. (2015). Transparency (projection). Retrieved 30 March 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transparency_(projection)
Wikipedia,. (2014). Gestetner. Retrieved 30 March 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestetner
Social media for many means catching up with what friends are doing via Facebook or following the latest celebrity on Twitter. But is can be so much more than that for an educator who is prepared to put in some extra work to effectively use to Social Media within a class environment.
It is important to consider the affordances in relation to the learning program to determine if there will be of benefit to the students (Bower, 2008). There will always be resistance from some students when social media for a variety of reasons. Due to this resistance it is important to ensure that any learning done through this mechanism is duplicated elsewhere.
One crucial issue is of course age, with many social media requiring the user to be over a certain age to agree to the terms and conditions. For use in a VET classroom, as outlined by Roblyer (2013) it is crucial that appropriate social media site are chosen that will create a professional learning avenue for students. It is also important for students to understand this is a professional site and should not be linked to their personal activities. By utilizing the affordances outlined by Bower (2008) and the taxonomy of learning, teaching and assessing created by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) a teacher can provide supported pedagogical reasoning behind why they are choosing a specific social media platform in their classroom.
One interesting piece of research by McCorkle D.E, and McCorkle Y.L., (2012) focussed on the use of LinkedIn in a marketing class room. The article outlined the assessment program that stepped students through the very basic setting up a profile to building a professional network.
This strategy has been reflected in current practice in the 2014 Article in Training Matters which focused on the use of LinkedIn in a VET Certificate III in Pathology qualification. The lecturer used LinkedIn in a variety of ways; the initial use was a discussion forum between students and industry but then it branched out as a mentoring forum for alumni students; a employment and job placement area; industry announcement. The heavy ties with industry through LinkedIn gave currency to the course.
With any social media it is important for students to understand why they are being asked to participate. Twitter as a back channel for on topic discussion by students during a lecture or presentation can vie valuable insight into the understanding by the students. This can simply be as easy as putting together a hashtag for the class group to respond to. In Hew & Cheung (2013) article they outlined how one institution saw an increase in GPA’s in the test group using twitter which was put down to students engaging with lecturers and content discussions via this social medium. Being able to access this application through a mobile device or desktop meant that the students were able to continue to learn and reflect of critical points 24/7.
The implementation of social media in a VET classroom does warrant investigation as an avenue to support students who are often in the workplace or studying through a blended delivery approach.
Anderson, L., & Krathwohl, D., (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman
Bower, M. (2008). Affordance analysis – matching learning tasks with learning technologies.Educational Media International, 45(1), 3-15. doi:10.1080/09523980701847115
Herrington, J., & Parker, J. (2013). Emerging technologies as cognitive tools for authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4). doi:10.1111/bjet.12048
Hew, K., & Cheung, W. (2013). Use of Web 2.0 technologies in K-12 and higher education: The search for evidence-based practice. Educational Research Review, 9, 47-64. doi:10.1016/j.edurev.2012.08.001
Jelfs, A., & Richardson, J. (2013). The use of digital technologies across the adult life span in distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2). doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01308.x
Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1). doi:10.1007/s11412-008-9056-2
McCorkle, D., & McCorkle, Y. (2012). Using Linkedin in the Marketing Classroom: Exploratory Insights and Recommendations for Teaching Social Media/Networking. Marketing Education Review, 22(2), 157-166. doi:10.2753/mer1052-8008220205
Passion for teaching. (2014). Training Matters, (20), 17. Retrieved from http://www.dtwd.wa.gov.au/employeesandstudents/training/otherinformation/trainingmatters/previousversions/Documents/April%202014/Training%20Matters%20April%202014%2017.pdf
Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Harlow: Pearson.
I know that so many people do not even consider accessibility when it comes to Digital Citizenship, but really for online environments it is not just about “accessibility” but it is about “good design”.
Let’s look at an accessibility ramp for instance. A ramp is not just for the few. Everyone can benefit from it.
Accessibility is not just about a physical impairment, but also about good media design that ensures everyone benefits regardless of the technology available to them.
Images, video, audio should all have text alternatives. If a button or navigation control is an image, the alternative text should describe where the button will take the user, or what it will do. Where the image is part of the learning material, you must ensure that the same information is given in text form.
Remember this is not just for people who are sight impaired, but for those users with issues loading the image due to poor connection speed. This will also help to cover different learning styles.
The only exception is an image that is just there as part of the page design, for example a blue line with dots in it, might appear as part of branding and design on a webpage. The learners are not “disadvantaged” if they do not see that design element. So for the alternative text, it should be given a null value of “”.
With video/audio, your original planning material/script can form the basis for your closed caption file or text document. Be sure to describe what is “happening”, not just what is being said.
Think about it – have you ever seen a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation where you can’t make out the words because they clash with the background image/colour?
If you are struggling to read your own content, even in part, then others will also have the same issue.
Furthermore colour-blindness, which is common, can affect the visibility of some colours over others. You really need to make sure you use high contrasting colours to support learners.
It is important to mention that these checkers only check colours for Accessibility. They will not tell you if it is a good colour choice from a design point of view, so always ask a designer if your colours work together.
As always it is best to check your organisations branding department and ask for the corporate colour palette as this can take some of the guess work out of choosing colours that match your corporate materials.
For video and audio, ensure that the learning material can be clearly heard over any background noise or background music you have added in.
Test your online content and see if you can navigate around it easily and in a predictable fashion using nothing but the keyboard. Most learning management systems take care of this for course navigation, but any content you create yourself in it should also be navigable in this way. Look out for Keyboard traps. Items in a webpage that keep you “trapped” once inside them when using Keyboard only navigation.
Any timed events should have plenty of time for all users to complete and contain controls for the user to pause, step back and step forward.
The pages of your course/site should be navigable through several methods. Again, your organisations Learning Management System will take care of much of this by providing both main navigation links, and also bread crumbs. Make sure you use titles in your pages so that users never feel lost, and ensure that “Home” takes your user to the first page they saw.
For those navigating by Keyboard, there must be a visual indicator as to what area of the site is currently selected. Ensure that where you repeat your navigation links on sub-pages, that they are consistent throughout the site.
You should also use the section heading and heading hierarchy functions in the software that you are creating in, again talk to your organisations deign department or look at your corporate style guide as this should indicate fonts and heading styles to be used.. It is helpful to know how to set section heading and heading hierarchy up in HTML or the CSS.
Text should always be aimed at pre-secondary education reading level. Any complex terms and wording should be explained or an explanation made available via a link to a glossary of terms.
Web pages should never “auto load” new content and links should always jump to the page relevant to a title link. No random links.
Most importantly content should work on ALL devices and not be created for a proprietary device. To ensure this you should test your online course on all web browsers and mobile devices.
Remember that a user must not be disadvantaged because of their personal choice of device nor their access speed.
At the end of the day accessible web design refers to the philosophy and practice of designing web content so that it can be navigated and read by everyone, regardless of location, experience, or the type of computer technology used (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2014).
Australian Human Rights Commission. (2014). World Wide Web Access: Disability Discrimination Act Advisory Notes ver 4.1 . Retrieved, from http://www.humanrights.gov.au/world-wide-web-access-disability-discrimination-act-advisory-notes-ver-41-2014#whatis
Daniel Lobo. (2007). Ramp [Image]. Flickr. Retrieved, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/377766377/
WebAIM. (2016). WebAIM: Color Contrast Checker. Retrieved, from http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/
As a professional presenter for a government agency I must be extremely careful about my digital footprint or digital tattoo (Sullivan, 2013) as it is my reputation that is on the line. What surprises me is that I could be standing in front of a group of professional trainers who work in the VET sector and I ask what they are doing about digital literacy I get the blank looks.
In almost a whisper I will then ask “How many of you have actually ‘Googled’ yourself to see your digital trail?” The scary part is that most of these educated people have never even considered searching themselves on the internet (Rheingold, 2010).
I guess I could be seen as being in the ‘Worried by the Wayside’ group (Madden, Fox, Smith and Vitak, 2007) mainly as my job as an elearning presenter I must be across a wide variety of technologies. Which means that this increases the potential for issues in the future with my digital footprint.
I am admitting now that whenever I go to post or respond to something I freely self-censor. The internal dialogue that I have will often cause me to stop and reflect. I will ask myself what prospective employers will think, will this reflect badly on my current workplace and will this impact on my family. If I can see I am in the clear then I will post.
Now let me be brutally honest and say not always have my colleagues put any filter to use. As I write and rewrite this blog post I again pause and reflect on what I am writing, I just can’t help it. Let me ask if you look back on your life (and if you are of a certain age and over) how many of you might have made a telephone call and left messages on an answering machine, then tried to get the tape before the person heard the message? Well imagine that but the tapes never going away, can never be erased and you have the digital tattoo that sticks forever.
I remember at a place a I worked a colleague sent out a site wide email with an embedded joke image which was not appropriate for the workplace. Immediately the colleague recalled the email. However, the recall of Outlook does not necessarily recall the actual email from people it just sends everyone on the sender list a notification that the email has been recalled. What that recall email triggered was a point where everyone at the work site clicked on the email and were horrified en mass.
Access to many media empowers only those who know how to use them (Rheingold, 2010). This truism is important for everyone. Think about it now days if a student or peer makes a gaff it follows as a constant reminder. Being a good digital citizen will not absolve you from your folly, however, it will make you stop and think a little before hitting the post or send button, and that has to be a good thing.
Greenhow, C. (2010). New concept of citizenship for the digital age. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(6), 24-25.
The Certificate II Construction Pathways program largely consists of 16-18 year old males with high levels of disengagement with paper-based learning that have a preference for practical, ‘hands on’ activities. I have focused on this learning area to seek out resources for the Instructional Software 5 areas as outlined by Roblyer (2013).
In the VET sector we have been fortunate that the National VET eLearning Strategy funded a large amount of resource development that align to various curriculum documents.
Drill and practice; Tutorial; and Problem Solving.
This is a multilayered resource that actually comprises of all the Instructional Software areas. It deals with numeracy with a focus on Certificate II in Construction Pathways to ensure students have an appropriate skill level in numeracy as outlined by industry. Within the toolbox there are drill and practice activities that if you house in a Learning Management System such as Moodle can track the students’ progress as these are all SCORM learning objects that report through to the grade book.
Note this is an interactive learning simulation which I am classing as a serious game that will support the construction trades.
This game has the user work through measuring a deck to work out the cost of the timber needed to replace the decking boards for the customer. It particularly good for low literacy and numeracy level students working in the construction area.
The Certificate II Construction Pathways program lends itself to a blended delivery approach, in-particular when students have block release to a Registered Training Organisation. These e-learning resources a supportive and provide valuable underpinning knowledge that the students do require when they are on work placement. These resources could also be used in a ‘Flipped Classroom’ (Sams and Bergmann, 2013) style class format which lends itself to having the student work through formative activities at home prior to working with the teacher in the classroom to ensure that while on block release the students use their teacher class time to greatest advantage.
Nationalvetcontent.edu.au,. (2006). National VET Content:Estimating and costing carpentry jobs. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from https://nationalvetcontent.edu.au/share/page/document-details?nodeRef=workspace://SpacesStore/dfe8d668-bf05-4542-84ce-029915092f7c
Roblyer, M. (2013). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching. Harlow: Pearson.
Sams, A., & Bergmann, J. (2013). Flip Your Students’ Learning. Educational Leadership, 2013, Vol.70(6), P.16-20, Vol.70(6), p. 16-20.
The White Card Game,. (2013). The White Card Game. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from http://www.whitecardgame.com.au/
Toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au,. (2015). Flexible Learning Toolboxes – Numbers 14.01. Retrieved 20 January 2015, from http://toolboxes.flexiblelearning.net.au/series14/14_01.htm
Late in 2014 the organisation a colleague and were due to run a session on using games in a training. We looked into the prospect of using Ingress, but decided that for a one day professional development session it was not viable. However, my colleague, a serious gamer, became hooked to the point that our team were planning on holding an intervention for him as the game started to take over his life.
BLVCKK allowed me to follow him for a few days while he played as well as agreeing to an interview about Ingress. This allowed me to create a short documentary, which he was happy for me to share.
This is a nice easy read, that give a good solid base level introduction to the concept of The Internet of Things. The book itself is not primarily education focused, but you can apply some of the key points to the education space. Well worth a look at.
Kellmereit, D. and Obodovski, D., (2013) The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things. DnD Ventures 1st edition, California.
The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things by Daniel Kellmereit and Daniel Obodovski (2013) presents an extensively researched analysis about the Internet of Things (IoT) which primarily was written for businesses looking to leverage on practical lessons and guidance from experts and companies in this field. Through interviews and case studies the readers are presented with both authentic examples and future forecast scenarios of use for both industry and individuals. The key objective of the book is for readers’ awareness to be raised about how connecting the physical world around us to the digital world can result in gains. Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) also shared their own personal views with the reader on how to overcome obstacles with the IoT, which are specifically aimed at business investment and job opportunities.
Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) pose five significant questions about the IoT: What is the Internet of Things? How is it coming about? What are the key trends? What is the potential? What needs to be done? The authors use these questions as a framework to explore the IoT concept. As part of this exploration three key ideas connecting the chapters: data collection; data transport; data analysis, especially around the issues of the role human interaction will play in the rapid expansion of this technology and the management of data produced by the IoT became apparent. These issues and ideas will form the basis to critique the theories developed in this book.
It becomes apparent thanks, to Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013), that the IoT is not a far-fetched vision of a digital utopia with the IoT incorporating machine–to–machine (M2M), machine–to–person (M2P) and person –to–person (P2) networked technologies. All digital learning technologies currently used in education are part of the IoT, a point many educators may not be aware of yet as the IoT has not been extensively covered in popular media.
In the book there are four identified focal points that the technology industry has created encompassing networked nodes around; connected cities; connected homes; connected health; and connected cars. Connected cities, provide information to town planners for traffic management energy optimization and building automation is collected via sensor and wireless communication data collected. Connected homes are sensing if people are at home and assisting with for energy consumption and making people comfortable and safe. Connected health currently supports people with chronic illnesses and Alzheimer’s by collecting data and location information and providing this to caregivers. Finally connected cars, most cars have ‘drive–by–wire’ implemented. This provides valuable information to service technicians at a service, but also aggregated information can create better fleet management in transport industries. These connected digital technologies are all networked nodes of data collection outlined in this book.
The data is collected via networked nodes, discussed by Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013), and is stored as raw ‘big data’ that can either be used by the original collector or supplied to third parties, provided that the metadata schemas match to will allow simple and effective data mining. The authors believe that this information collection is going to help us all become better citizens and allow us to better manage our facilities, including educational facilities, this is supported by the current project between CISCO and Swinburne University (Johnson, Adams, Estrada, Freeman, 2015).
It is argued in the book that as ‘things’ around us become smarter machines will take over more tasks, the human error rate for activities will fall, for example the research and development Google X project for self-driving cars. However, in education, current technologies are successfully being employed that are filling a niche requirement. Technologies currently being used include radio frequency identification (RFID) tags in an elearning project using RFID tags in a cabinet making workshop (E-standards.flexiblelearning.net.au, 2008) and quick reference (QR) codes for map reading in an outdoor education class (Lai, Chang, Wen-Shiane, Fan & Wu, 2013). These project have had to overcome technology hurdles for successful real-world application.
Technology in the past has been problematic, according to Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013), as the uptake has been prohibited by the expense especially specialist scanning hardware. With the arrival of QR codes to the digital landscape and cheap simple smart technology production using, for example, Rasberry Pi (Raspberrypi.org, 2015) and Arduino (Arduino.cc, 2015) modules means that there is a change in the landscape. This is fast becoming a core topic in many universities computer science courses such as the Open University’s My Digital Life course (Kortuem, Bandara, Smith, Richards & Petre, 2013). The exponential growth of the IoT and M2M arena is being driven by research projects in both industry and educational institutions.
The IoT according to The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things (2013) is a rapidly expanding dynamic space and one which Moores Law (Mooreslaw.org, 2015) can be applied to technologies involved. With this rapid expansion of the M2M technology the central challenge, according to the authors, is that people do not understand the reference architecture that is required to grasp the potential of the IoT. Peggy Smedly, from connected Worlds M2M, in the book suggested increasing the profile of IoT in the mass consumer marketplace by packaging technology into something that is easy for both companies and consumers to use, so not only offering a complete solution but from known and trusted brands, which directly contradicts Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) focus for technology start-ups who will bring the creative edge to the market rather than staid traditional trusted companies. Once again universities adjusting programs in a responsive manner and supporting students in learning about, engaging with and building IoT technology (Callagaghan, 2013; Kellogg, Parks, Gollakota, Smith & Wetherall, 2014; Zhang, Callaghan, Shen, Davies, 2011) they will support the creative edge needed in this new space that Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) see crucial for success.
A key theme in the book is the phenomenal rate of change that society is experiencing in all aspects of life due to the interconnectivity of smart devices. It is this silent revolution that humanity will not notice due to the pervasiveness of the IoT technology. Everything will become nodes on a network in a world where knowledge is universally accessible (Anderson & Rainie, 2014). Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) alluded to well–defined old problems that the IoT can solve such as increased track ability, increased productivity, improved risk management, reduction in the guess work for planning projects and better connection to our environment. They do point out that the ‘human element’ is a key risk factor, but stop short of a definitive statement regarding issues resulting from the removal of people from the equation in the input of data in the IoT environment.
Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) are quick to point out that the ‘human element’ is important and not superfluous to data analysis especially the interpretation of data and the subsequent recommendations for implementation. Data analysis is seen to be a growth area for companies with networked devices feeding systems that can improve tracking and tracing capabilities, such as the DriveCam example (Lytx, 2015) as discussed in the by Mark Wells interview (Kellmereit & Obodovski, p.93, 2013).
Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) have a positive view of the IoT and handing over data collection, transport and analysis to digital technology. This ideology causes the reader to pause and reflect that our ‘smart devices’ are disrupting and in the very near future, if not already, are going to re-define society’s ways of living, interacting and learning, and consequently, will challenge our belief of what it is to be human (Theinternetofthings.eu, 2015).
Shared business models and industry standards, according to the book, are currently deficient in the IoT sector. Bill Gates said “In an age of interconnectivity, businesses need an architecture that extends outward to partners and customers. The successful companies select a few standards and enforce them strictly” (Gates & Hemingway, 1999). Setting standards and creating shared business models is an important step for industries to make in the IoT and M2M arena, because viable data linking from a variety of sources will allow the true potential to be discovered. Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) put forward that without industry standards the IoT and M2Ms scale will always be defined by the narrow structures that each individual business use.
With the IoT being a relatively new concept and one which the possible ramifications are not widely understood there are some concerns that Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) raise. One significant controversy outlined are ethical issues around the big data being captured by M2M, M2P and P2P technologies and the sovereignty of the data, especially as not all data retention and access levels are the same and similarly the treatment of data should not be the same. Sovereignty of data will become a crucial issue in years to come as the collection and use of data from sources versus the rights of individuals who are linked to the data will have ongoing ramifications to all industries, including the education sector.
Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) mention very little regarding the responsibility of the carriers around data preservation and sharing, simply that there will be regulatory restrictions in other countries (this book was written and published for the American market). They discuss that data acquisition will be the growth market area for industries to capitalize on; this is a concern as there is little regulation regarding how metadata is managed, retained or shared by companies or countries, as seen in current media about metadata retention in Australia (Ag.gov.au, 2015). This lack of regulation has ramifications on data collection, transport, storage and analysis.
Data transportation in the digital realm is a concern for all areas of industry as well as the general community. The need to provide secure transport networks, be it via hardwire/cable, cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth or RFID for short range communication which all have unique security protocols around the network to ensure that the data is safe during transport as well as during storage. This book did not provide any key information around this area other than that a company needed to develop a robust M2M policy to ensure that their data would be protected.
It is outlined in the book that business and industry need to optimise the technology architecture, which can be driven by work and research in the education sectors. This book perceives a disconnect between the high-tech community and industry Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013), however with the education sector making strong inroads into this space there will be a reconnection and synergy between these key market players on the IoT space.
Bill Gates once wrote “Business is going to change more in the next ten years than it has in the last fifty” (Gates & Hemingway, 1999) and this is especially true when looking at the IoT technology and the exponential growth that all industries, including education, will experience thanks to the prevalence of the IoT which will form the starting point for the next digital revolution if Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) have it right.
Overall Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) were successful in presenting a book that offered a broad overview of the IoT which then drilled down to specifics related to investment and business strategies. Their discussions around the new changing digital world and the way businesses, including education institutions, must adapt was illustrated by interesting use cases and interviews which met the writers aims set out in their introduction. However, this book only scratches the surface of the IoT and M2M technology and further reading would be necessary for an educator to fully grasp the implications both the IoT and M2M in relation to their current methodologies and technology systems being used. This is a challenging topic and one that Kellmereit and Obodovski (2013) provide a very broad base level introduction to.
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In the world of adult education ‘games’ are seen to be frivolous, however, solid authentic learning can be achieved through learner engagement via games or simulations and we should not discount the use in a training situation.
Gee (2005) points out that the formation of cross-functional teams is important in a MUD (multi-user domain). The team must work together to achieve a common endeavour, which means that they must work collaboratively and effectively to achieve the common goal.
In the training environment or even workplace gaming Perkins (2009) says that gaming can provide a sense of community to players, this community feel is extremely important when building a supportive learning environment within a classroom context.
In a training environment role-playing simulation players can ‘fail’ in a safe and supported way, and in turn learn from their failures both as a team and as an individual (Farmer, 2011). The important part of this learning is the engagement in a simulation with either a live team on the learning journey with the individual or by a team built into the game. This engagement provides the necessary feedback mechanism the student requires to improve performance by working through the various challenges in the simulation.
A well planned learning simulation will react to the user and provide feedback and new problems (Gee, 2005). A good simulation currently used in adult workplace training is the FLAME SIM (Flame-sim.com, 2015) software. It is used to train fire departments worldwide in effective collaboration and communication to reach the team goal – the fire being controlled and eventually put out. This software has a level of flexibility and complexity built in and can also have specific scenario modifications programmed by the lead trainer. Being in real time it provides the players an authentic learning task that requires effective team work and collaboration. At the end of the online session the lead trainer then debriefs with the learners regarding performance and issues.
Keramidas (2010) pointed out good games require design structures that put players in experiential learning situations with the right constraints for learning from experiences. In a training environment if we can provide a ‘safe’ learning experience (especially for high risk workplaces) where base level skills are mastered and demonstrated prior to going into the actual learning experience then this is can be lifesaving. By learning the importance of effective communication in the situation via a simulation can save lives in the workplace and goes a long way to building an affinity group through this shared experience.
Simulations and games can provide the avenue for peer-to-peer teaching (Farmer, 2011), which supports the building of a life-long collaborative learning style. The crucial difference between a ‘commercial game’ and an ‘educational game or simulation’ is that the latter provides support for the player/learner to increase the likelihood that the desired objectives are met, bet it as an individual or through collaborative cooperative learning (Becker, 2011).
Digital games and simulations are not just ‘fluff’ used simply to pass the time in a class, but can form part of an enriching learning experience that supports training and education. Being able to choose authentic learning simulations (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) which encourage peer-to-peer work and collaboration, both within the simulation and offline, in a cross functional team offers a powerful learning tool that is, if managed well, able to support students learning and understanding of content.
To me this is a win for the students and a win for games and simulations in the classroom.
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Reeves, T. C., & Herrington, J. (2010). Authentic Tasks: The Key to Harnessing the Drive to Learn in Members of “Generation Me”. In M. Ebner, & M. Schiefner (Eds.) Looking Toward the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native (pp. 205-222). Hershey, PA:. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-678-0.ch012