Future Identities of the Self Among Learners Across Physical and Virtual Spaces

Future Identities of the Self Among Learners Across Physical and Virtual Spaces

Themba M. Ngwenya (Colorado Technical University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2182-2.ch017
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This chapter seeks to examine the future identities of the self among learners across physical and virtual spaces and attempts to explain how these roles could flourish across the tech-centric learning environments. The study discusses the origin of identities, how they relate to current and future models of education, and what future identities and roles are possible. Challenges mentioned include those associated with evaluation and assessment of the virtual spaces, as well as new ways of capturing the environment feedback by utilizing sensors and wearable technology. Highlights involve virtual environment design using gamification techniques and security aspects of the future identities. The conclusion summarizes factors and stakeholders that need consideration when creating adequate physical and virtual spaces for the future identities of self.
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The thrust of the Horizon Report produced by the New Media Consortium and other contributors such as the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) (NMC Horizon Report 2016) is to aid educators with information about emerging technology trends and their potential use in the teaching, learning and creative spaces. The report is a “futuring” tool which looks at the next five years. The latest NMC Horizon Report (Johnson, Adams Becker, Cummins, Estrada, Freeman, & Hall, 2016) zoomed in on the trends challenges and solutions associated with embracing technology in higher education. Previous editions such as NMC Horizon Report 2014 (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014) pointed toward encouraging adoption in younger members of society.

In the period from when the Horizon Reports were first produced starting in 2006 (New Media Consortium, 2006), the constantly evolving technology has changed how society communicates, in general. It favors more free and personalized modes such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops over traditional fixed techniques related to television, telephony, and radio.

The growth of social media use has ensured round-the-clock interactions on all levels, local, national and global. The ability of Avatars to represent users on the internet as well as in virtual worlds or gaming programs has boosted the desire for individual expression, (Damer, Judson, Dove et al., 1997). The proliferation of similar applications or Apps (Purcell, Entner & Henderson, 2010) removes previous communication restrictions such as language barriers with the introduction of software-based Artificial Intelligence translators (Bais, Machkour, & Koutti, 2016).

The desire to call globally without enduring the traditional telephony costs when using WhatsApp (Jiang, Das, Ananthanarayanan et al., 2016) is another way technology has increased interaction. The education field has been affected too as it has become apparent that the needs of the learners and their specific roles in a tech-centric learning environment require a relook to understand changes and give a sense of structure. This examination involves the ability to reference and define the future identities of the learners across physical and virtual spaces when integrating them with an Awareness of Selfhood and Society.

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