Emerging Technologies

What are three emerging technologies that are growing in popularity today?

Augmented Reality (AR) refers to the addition of a computer-assisted contextual layer of information over the real world, creating a reality that is enhanced or augmented” (Johnson, Smith, Willis, Levine, & Haywood, 2011, p. 16). The benefits cited include: (1) “it can be used for visual and highly interactive forms of learning, allowing the overlay of data onto the real world as easily as it simulates dynamic processes…(2) “its ability to respond to user input. The interactivity confers significant potential for learning and assessment. Augmented reality is an active, not passive technology … (3) it is appealing because it aligns with situated learning; … (4) “AR that relies on mobile devices leverages an increasingly ubiquitous tool, not for social interactions but for learning, blurring the boundaries between formal and informal learning, which can contribute to the evolution of a learning ecology that transcends educational institutions” (Johnson et al., 2011, p. 16-17). The drawbacks and/or technological considerations are worth addressing. It is unclear whether or not the technology has advanced enough to become compatible with prevalent online course management systems. Although, it is being used heavily in media and consumer driven markets. Augmented books are increasing in popularity, but require the user to utilize a special set of goggles. It is definitely a promising technology, but still considered to be at least two to three years from mainstream use.

Gamification is the use of gameplay mechanics for non-game applications” (Raymer, 2011, p. 1) is also referenced in the 2011 Horizon Report as “Game-Based Learning” still considered to be approximately two to three years from widespread adoption. There are numerous advantages to game-based learning such as “supporting collaboration, problem-solving and communication … Advocates also underscore the productive role of play, which allows for experimentation, the exploration of identities, and even failure… Gaming also contributes to the development of a particular disposition well-suited to an information-based culture and rapid change” (Johnson et al., 2011, p. 20). One of the drawbacks toward the successful implementation of game based learning in educational settings still lies within the social / parental realms. There are many individuals who still believe that game-based learning is dangerous, addictive or promotes antisocial behavior. Unfortunately, the research to date has not been able to definitively put these concerns to rest to the satisfaction of many concerned parents. Mind you, I am not one of those persons. However, having gone through the vaccination issues with my son (my sister in law has a friend who swears her son became autistic because of the MMR vaccinations), and living daily with the public’s general misunderstandings regarding ADHD, medication versus non-medication, discipline, etc. I am perhaps more familiar than most with the difficulties unfounded fears can present. I had my son vaccinated after doing a TON of research and against my sister-in-law’s wishes. Ultimately, it was my decision as the parent. Similarly, I have gone through many different treatments with my son for his ADHD, different medications, different routines, etc. In the end, I made choices for him based on my research, and my life experience with my son.
This is the one area that will create one of the greatest obstacles to getting game based learning mainstreamed. Parental fear can drive individuals insane. When it comes to our children, we are not always rationale. We are human. If we are not sure there is danger, we more often than not hedge our bets towards safety. To this day, my son is 10 and does not walk to school. He also does not ride his bike outside by himself or go to the park by himself. It is the unknown possibilities that often scare us the most. Major factors in terms of implementing the technology include bandwidth, operating system compatibility and graphics capabilities. Course management systems themselves will not have difficulty handling the lode of game-based learning software, rather it will be the individual learners whose computers will need to be up to the task, especially if the graphics and/or tech load is too heavy. By the time the politics have been handled to the point of allowing mainstream game based learning, individual computers will likely be up to the task.

Gesture-Based Computing is considered to be four to five years from adoption; however, the Kinect system for the Xbox has already been released opening a large doorway from which learners can easily travel. The benefits are similar to those of augmented reality in allowing the learner to more deeply engage and interact with the environment and/or learning constructs. The drawbacks, similar to AR will be implementing the technology into course management systems, as well as school systems. Considering that many schools are still struggling with allowing mobile devices for learning, it is difficult to believe they will be able to advance their technological thoughts to include gesture-based computing even within four to five years, at least in the K-12 academic arena. It may be more likely in higher education. With the technology still considered to be about four to five years out, it is difficult to ascertain the complications there will be in utilizing it. In four to five years our computer technology will also have advanced, possibly exponentially. In that case, I would imagine that there the course management systems and individual learner computers will have the capabilities to use the technology. If not, I suppose we could all go out and buy the new Kinect Xbox just in case.


Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., & Haywood, K. (2011). The 2011 horizon report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Raymer, R. (2011, September). Gamification: Using game mechanics to enhance elearning. elearn Magazine. Retrieved from elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2031772


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