Classifying Educational Online Technologies: A New Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy

Classifying Educational Online Technologies: A New Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy

Kimberley Tuapawa (University of Newcastle, Australia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7010-3.ch001
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Educational online technologies (EOTs) have dynamically transformed learning environments, opening vast opportunities to a range of tertiary education providers (TEIs). Making educationally sound choices about technology use can be challenging, amidst the extensive and largely unclassified range of tools. The absence of a taxonomy comprehensive enough to guide EOT choice is a concern, given the current extent of online activity. This chapter addresses this issue by proposing a new taxonomic framework of EOTs called the Pentexonomy. Developed by augmenting five existing taxonomies, the Pentexonomy synergizes a range of perspectives to produce a robust, contextualized, and multi-dimensional classification which facilitates educationally sound decision-making on EOT activity.
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The Internet is a phenomenal structure that has revolutionised the application of digital technologies. Through an “ubiquitous and universal means” of interconnection, this global network (Tselentis et al., 2009, p. 9), has experienced spectacular growth, bringing unparalleled levels of connectivity to a populace of more than 3.77 billion users worldwide (Davidson, 2015; Kemp, 2017). Its various developments, including mobile technology growth, have expanded mankind’s metropolis of ‘digitalia’, with penetration rates having increased almost seven-fold, from 6.5% in 2000 to an astounding 50% in 2017 (Kemp, 2017).

On a global scale, the Internet has been an “extraordinarily successful” accelerator of growth (Tselentis et al., 2009, p. 9), enabling billions of users to rapidly exploit an expanding array of digital services. In the area of higher education, its impact has effected great transformations, opening new opportunities for enhanced learning and teaching.

For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) has grown to become a phenomenon with the potential to deliver game-changing levels of learning and teaching experiences. Experts believe that with its “ubiquitous access to computing power, high-quality online content, and social media” interactions, the IoT could “improve practically every aspect of [an] institution’s engagement with all parties” (Asseo, Johnson, Chalapathy, & Costello, 2016, p. 1). Through a predication of students’ interactions, they could provide a 1:1 journey that is personalised and unique from enrolment to study (Asseo et al., 2016). This opens a range of opportunities for TEIs to tailor and innovate their operations to digitally engage students and teachers, optimising methods of knowledge access and dissemination.

The Internet has also stimulated other developments in tertiary education. Ambitious new endeavours to provide online education have been bolstered through the use of massively open online course (MOOC) ventures, such as Coursera, edX, XuetangX, FutureLearn and Udacity (Shah, 2016). These platforms have experienced dramatic growth, with enrolment numbers climbing at an astonishing rate. In 2016, for example, over 58 million students had enrolled in at least one course – a drastic increase from previous years (Shah, 2016). These digital statistics reflect the growing demand and increased use of educational online technologies (EOTs) in higher education.

EOTs have dynamically transformed the delivery of higher education, creating extraordinary opportunities for enhanced learning and teaching. In an era of great digital and mobile growth, their enhanced functionalities have revolutionised methods of engagement and participation, generating phenomenal increases in the demand for web-based and mobile learning and support. Factors including affordability, ubiquity, and accessibility have increased levels of generational acceptance and encouraged adoption.

Traditional learning spaces have evolved into dynamic BTEs (blended tertiary enviroments), with channels of content dissemination switching from didactically-styled “face-to-face courses to …online courses” (Picciano, 2015, p. 148). Clearly, “the idea that learning occurs only within” the “confines [of an institute has] becom[e] obsolete” (Annetta, Folta, & Klesath, 2010, p. 73). It is no longer tethered to a campus (Anderson, Boyles, & Rainie, 2012) or confined to a physical classroom.

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