A Look at Emerging Technologies

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Augmented Reality Instructions (photo credit: Tricia Spayer, taken from youtube)

This look at current thinking about top emerging technologies should help us in our own work to see how we might use these technologies. Whether it is social media, wearable technologies, the latest in printers, personalization, big data, cloud computing, mobile apps, analytics, digital identity, haptic interfaces, augmented reality, or the internet of things, we could benefit by looking at these technologies.

Where we have been and are going

A few years ago mobiles, mobile aps, cloud computing, and ebooks topped lists such as the Horizon Report. Today we see a move on these lists to wearable tech, bring your own device, and 3D printing, with a continuation of mobile and cloud computing. Online learning and flipped/blended learning are trends as well.

– Concerning flipped and blended learning, we see predictions that letting students watch lectures online gives teachers a chance to spend time in class on real-time collaborative activities and areas that challenge students.

– With regard to online learning, we see continued growth and a move to measuring effectiveness.

Whether we work in an area related to education or not, it can be worthwhile to be aware of trends in educational technology to see if we can use related techniques for the audiences we serve in our own work.

Dr. Charels Dull

The Horizon Report

The 2015 Higher Education Horizon Report (12 Edition) is a collaborative effort that identifies technologies that likely have an impact on learning and teaching. Trends, challenges, and important development appear in the report. The report notes that “with more than 13 years of research… the NMC Horizon Project can be regarded as the world’s longest-running exploration of emerging technology trends.”

Trends identified that could be of greatest interest to us, include:

– evolution of online learning

– rethinking of learning spaces

– rise of data drive learning and assessments

– Agile approaches to change

Challenges of greatest interest to us include:image1

– defining and support digital literacy

– blending formal and informal learning

– competition from new models of education

Important developments of interest to us could include:

– bring your own device

– flipped classrooms

– wearable technology

– the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things can be defined as a “network of objects that link the physical world with the world of information through the web.” Objects, sensors, and devices “can now be addressable and findable across the internet.” This can be useful for “tracking objects that monitor equipment or materials, point of sale purchases, and… inventory management. “It may be for many of us just a matter of time before we provide related documentation support, training materials, and other information products. We may be working on the “many web tools that allow objects to be annotated with descriptions, photographs… and other contextual information; the Internet of Things makes access to these data as easy as it is to use the web.”

Wearable technologies can include items of clothing such as shoes or a jacket or an accessory such as sunglasses or a backpack. Wearable technology can “integrate tools that track sleep, movement, location, and social media. Google Glass is an example of wearable technologies, letting users see information about their surroundings. Smart watches are another example of wearable technologies, letting users check email and complete other tasks through a highly portable interface.

Jeanette Evans

Microlearning and education

We hear so much about how attention spans are currently shrinking with people unable to put down their phones. Shrinking attention spans is a debatable topic, but we do see greater consumption of media and video content. We should keep this in mind as we develop learning products especially for technologies that are changing rapidly. Techniques useful in the past may not apply today especially for a changing work environment. Shorter and completely to the point can often be better in today’s world and something to consider for documentation.


The next new, best, and fastest bit of technology (you “gotta” use).

Culture and technology today are blending and integrating into our lives. We used to use technology. Now technology is used so seamlessly we often do not realize it is technology. Examples include tweets, big data, analytics, microblogs, Facebook, bring your own device, and augmented reality, as shown in the example. Wearable technologies change how we live as we use our FitBit, Apple Watch, and iPod tracking, as some examples.

Compacted learning often comes as a result and something we can consider as we prepare documentation or whatever learning product deliverable would be a good fit for the application. Microlearning can include massive, open, online courses where you learn what you want, if you want, what part you want, and when you want. Communication can include:

– Skype

– Webex

– Dimdim

– Adobe Connect

– Google Hangout

What’s next

Some ideas to think about are that we live in a sound byte age. Younger generations have grown up thinking answers to questions are Google searches. Learning will change on demand. Technology will continue to be more agile and merging use with life. The latest technology could be yesterday’s news. We will continue to use tools to stay current.

An augmented reality example.

Here is the link to the augmented reality instructions for repairing a car engine.

By Charles Dull and Jeanette Evans
Note to readers: This is a follow up to our recent presentation to NEO STC.