“The sky is the limit and an open mind goes a long way! We don't get stuck in old technologies, just because they are comfortable. We try to look to the future: like the youth we serve.”
(Getting Online research respondent from a not-for profit organization)
Another trend is that technology is evolving and is providing better and more effective methods for online learning and collaboration. There is constant innovation, change, and expansion of new technologies and adaptation of older ones. Online learning technologies are also often becoming more user-friendly and versatile. Various multi-media applications are now available and can be easily embedded into online learning opportunities. These new technologies and multi-media capabilities can be used to tailor learning to meet individual learning styles and needs.
As well, new online learning technologies are being developed with new features and new possibilities for interactivity and online collaboration. For instance, Wikipedia, the world's largest online encyclopedia, has 10 million articles, 7.5 million volunteers and 700 million visitors! To use another example of the continual innovation in the use of technology, in February 2009, a nine year-old from Singapore wrote a finger painting application called “Doodle Kids” for the Apple iPhone.
The desire to explore new technologies was evident in the Getting Online research. The GO research found that slightly over half (53%) of the research respondents from external organizations noted that they intended to explore new technologies, new online learning platforms, and various options and trends in online learning.
Many GO research respondents acknowledged that they wanted to expand into new technologies (e.g., webinars and video conferencing) and into new types of online learning (e.g., blended or synchronous learning). Some wanted to expand by moving to a new online learning platform (i.e., Moodle). As well, many hoped to use new technologies to enhance their current offerings by creating more dynamic and interactive online learning opportunities (such as using webcams or live audio-visual online training in their existing training).
Many GO respondents were keenly interested in the potential of Web 2.0 social networking tools (such as wikis, blogs, and YouTube) and their potential application to online learning. In fact, some were researching or were already in the beginning stages of incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their existing online courses. (Please see the next section for more details on Web 2.0). The desire to enhance current courses by adding new multimedia features was another commonly expressed goal. A few respondents mentioned wanting to try out the use of virtual worlds such as Second Life for educational purposes.
Several respondents noted that technology quickly becomes obsolete and that they intended to keep abreast of changes so that they could continually explore, upgrade, and incorporate emerging technologies which would enhance people's learning experience. They reported that they and their organizations want to remain fully open to future emerging technologies for online learning and to not limit their thinking.
Tech Soup, a website on technology and the not-for-profit sector, provides a helpful article on planning for technology at www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/techplan/index.cfm.
The Getting Online Project fully explores many of the common online learning technologies in our “Technology” module.