I have just read this article about defining emerging technology by George Veletsianos. It was apparent to me that although people use the term “emerging technology”, it has not been accurately defined. Even without reading the definition George writes, I have to think back on my many years of learning mathematics as a youth in school, and teaching mathematics in school as an adult. I have already been exposed to emerging technology… electronic calculators. The first ones I remember were bulky and slow. They have evolved from 4-function calculators, to scientific calculators, to programmable calculators, to “pretty print” calculators, to symbolic (computer algebra system) graphing calculators.
Before my time in grade school, they have used the slide rule, and before that some form of abacus (which still has value in elementary school). Mathematics education has seen its fair share of emerging technologies over time. That’s how I have begun to define this phrase. It’s a tool that is utilized in learning mathematics.
Now Georges’ definition:
“emerging technologies are tools, concepts, innovations, and advancements utilized in diverse educational settings to serve varied education-related purposes”
Which has the following characteristics:
- may or may not be new technologies
- can be described as evolving organisms that exist in a state of “coming into being”
- experience hype cycles
- satisfy the “not yet” criteria of (a) not yet being fully understood, and (b) not yet being fully researched or researched in a mature way
- are potentially disruptive, but their potential is mostly unfulfilled
With this new definition in hand, I have to reflect on my initial view of emerging technology. Not only are graphing calculators a tool, but an innovation, a conceptual working framework, and an advancement of previous computing devices. I can attest to you that if I had a graphing calculator in my algebra, trigonometry, and calculus courses, I would have experienced a greater understanding of the beauty of mathematics. (and have gotten better grades!)
I can now see how electronic calculators fit the definition of emerging technologies. At the same time, I see how the abacus, slide rule, mechanical calculators, computers, internet, and mobile devices fit this as well.
The other reading assignment was a report written by the New Media Consortium that describes K-12 educational trends, challenges, and developments in educational technology. A great read that offers vast information about the use of technology in school. I like the links to the wide variety of resources that can be researched and tried in the classroom, plus the designation of educational technologies in terms of long/mid/short-term impact, solvable/difficult/wicked challenges, and time to adoption time frames. Apparently this report is written yearly and thus can be read to see the advancements of educational technology over time. Truly a great resource.