Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside the Box

Andrew Brooks (Centre for Interprofessional eLearning (CIPeL), UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-889-0.ch029
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Education is moving out of the classroom and into the real world, driven by both emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and new economic models. The boom of the web and social networking has revolutionised global communication and collaboration. A DIY culture and industries are emerging because of this. Mobile devices connecting to the digital superhighways are merging the real and digital worlds. This, coupled with the falling cost of the hardware as well as the free software movement may soon place a new model of education into the grasp of almost everyone. A model where education is no longer the process of being fed information, but rather a process of enquiry, exploration, discovery, expression and re-interpretation of the world around us on our own terms. The potential for learning from and with each other at this moment in time is unprecedented.
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Technological Advancements Enabling Change

Mobile phones, GPS, Cameras, microphones, the World Wide Web, Shared processing, Virtual worlds, QR codes, Databases, cloud computing, and social networks. All these technologies are starting to merge and overlap with one another. All of this combined technology can now be found in a single device that fits into the palm of one’s hand in the latest generation of Wi-Fi enabled ‘smartphones’. It is as if they are becoming the organs and appendages of a great all knowing, all seeing beast, slowly coming to life. Yet all of this combined technology can now be found in a single device that fits into the palm of your hand. However, according to Moore's law, this great leap in the advancement and miniaturisation of digital technologies has its boundaries.

If the devices cannot become any smaller, then maybe their ‘brains’ can live outside of the devices themselves. This new great technological leap has begun and is already beaming over the airways via microwave, wifi and satellite. ‘Cloud computing’ is the process whereby users can access a software application, database of information or even processing power which lives on a larger computer, or even a collection of computers, somewhere else. This allows a small device with limited processing power and storage capacity to have all of the advantages of virtually infinite power and storage.

Advancements in sensor technology are also coming into their own. Portable devices such as mobile phones already come with devices like cameras, microphones GPS and wifi as standard. Add to this, devices such as accelerometers, lasers, projectors, night vision etc. and their potential for exploring and interacting with the world is further enhanced.

The mobile phone has been transformed from a brick into a slick multimedia device which tries to be all things to all people. One can watch movies, listen to music or film one’s friends at a party. More than that however is the ability to share this information with the whole world via the World Wide Web. People can share their views and comment on your postings. Even people whom one has never met or who live on the other side of the world. They can share their perspective and hopefully enhance our understanding of the world we live in.

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