Immersed in the Future: A roadmap of existing and emerging technology for career exploration
Written by Erica Southgate, Shamus P. Smith and Hayden Cheers, The University of Newcastle Australia
WHY A TECHNOLOGICAL ROADMAP?
The recent global ‘buzz’ surrounding the augmented reality game Pokemon Go™ and the release (or imminent release) of head-mounted displays (HMDs) devices such as the Oculus Rift™, HTC Vive™ and HoloLens™, has reinvigorated interest in new digital technologies for leisure, edutainment, and learning. Major technology and entertainment corporations, including those involved in social media, have invested heavily in developing new hardware and software, with today’s computers powerful enough to render a highly immersive experience that can create an intensified sense of presence or sense of ‘being there’ in virtual and augmented worlds. Using a base case scenario, it has been estimated that that by 2025 the virtual and augmented reality market (including HMDs and software) will reach USD 80bn shipment units, annually (Goldman Sachs Group, 2016). While the entertainment, business, military and healthcare sectors will see the most investment and uptake, it has been conservatively estimated that in K-12 and higher education there will be 15 million users with USD 700m spend in shipment units, annually.
The aim of this roadmap is to highlight, in an accessible way, some existing and emerging digital technologies and their potential to create deeper and authentic learning opportunities in school and post-school education (EdTech Mindset, 2016). Deeper learning experiences allow students to engage and respond to real world problems and work situations in an authentic and sustained way and to see the relevance of their learning beyond the classroom (Adams Becker et al., 2016). Like all useful roadmaps, this report does two things. Firstly, it charts some broad directions in the general types of technologies that are currently commercially available and those that are predicted to be available and affordable within a 3-10 year period (Adams Becker et al., 2016; The Goldman Sachs Group, 2016). Secondly, the report provides descriptions of these technologies, their key features and some imaginative examples of their current or possible application in education and for careers exploration. The purpose of this roadmap is to provoke the imagination of educators in considering how these technologies might be used for education and career exploration, because engaging educators now will be vital if the characteristics (or affordances) of these technologies are to be used in pedagogically sound and curriculum– aligned ways that are duly informed by learning science. Imaginative, ‘blue sky’ thinking, however, does not take place in a vacuum. Several decades of research on digital technology in education provides ample warning about understanding the difference between the ‘state-of-the-art’ and ‘stateof- the-actual’ when technology is deployed in real educational settings:
“(T)he critical study of educational technology seeks to address the use of digital technology in terms of ‘stateof-the-actual’ as opposed to ‘state-of-the-art’ questions – i.e. questions concerning what is actually taking place when a digital technology meets an educational setting and, from a historical perspective, how this compares with what has taken place in the recent past. These questions fall broadly into three basic forms, i.e.: What is the use of technology in educational settings actually like? Why is technology used in educational settings the way it is? What are the consequences of what happens with technologies in educational settings?” (Selwyn, 2010, p.70).
Some of the technologies described in this report are new or still in development. It is therefore important that as they are introduced into educational settings that robust evaluations of their learning efficacy and impacts, and equity and ethical implications, are conducted (OECD, 2015). This critical approach does not however preclude ‘blue sky’ thinking about how the affordances of these technologies might open up new opportunities for educational and career experiences that are not available to all students in real life.
Acknowledgement: This research was funded in part by Dr Southgate’s 2016 Equity Fellowship administered through the National Centre for Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), Curtin University, Australia.