Emerging and Assistive Technologies and the Future

Emerging technologies continue to play a major role in our future. It will be interesting to see how many new technologies we will experience in the next year. Technological advancement is constantly offering challenges to teaching and learning. With the advent of computers in science and industry, technological developments occur almost daily. The present and future are sometimes hard to dis- tinguish: What was science fiction 10 years ago is reality today and will be obsolete in 10 years. For example, Kurzweil (2003) prophesies that $1,000 of today’s comput- ing power, if measured in brainpower, would be between that of the brain of an insect and that of a mouse. Nanotechnology has been known only since the 1980s. Yet, miniaturizion in technology continues to exceed our imaginations. Engineering and computer science students are often told that their educations will be outdated by the time they graduate and enter their professional fields. The lightning speed of technological advancements in our age makes predictions of the future tentative and difficult. However, some technological trends have emerged over the past several years that permit us to speculate about how technology will revolutionize our society and our daily lives in the future.

One fact is certain: Computers are here to stay! The work of our complex society could not be accomplished without the speed and accuracy that computers allow. Technology changes rapidly and recall that the computer was only introduced in the late 1930s. Pre- dicting the future of technology is challenging. For example, The Boston Museum of Science has highlighted the 21st Century of Computing at the following website and includes experts’ good and bad past predictions of twenty-first-century technology:


The multifaceted work of computers in research and development, coupled with the research of scientists and engineers, will produce the next generation of computers, more capable than those in use today. The research work is oriented toward several areas: continued miniaturization, greater memory capacity, speech recognition and synthesis, enhanced graphics displays, as well as many emerging technologies.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of computers during the past 20 years has been their decreasing physical size. Many of the powerful computers of the 1960s were room-sized; in the 1980s, a home computer owner could own and operate an equally powerful personal computer that could be set up in the corner of a study or family room! The 1990s saw the introduction of portable computers and notebook- sized computers that fit into a briefcase or backpack. Currently, we are seeing the ad- vancement of ubiquitous computing with palm-sized computers. What has accounted for this decrease in size of computer hardware?

Emerging Technologies

The personal computing era is giving way to the ubiquitous computing era, which is the availability of data and information generating, storing, transmitting, or pro- cessing anywhere, anytime. In the future, more people will be using a variety of information appliances, such as automobile navigational systems, personal digital assistants (PDAs), digital cameras, and mobile phones. Computers will be physically smaller and less expensive, have greater memory capacity, be able to recog- nize and produce speech, generate more sophisticated graphics displays, as well as take advantage of other emerging technologies. As the price of computers decline, more and more people will take advantage of the seemingly infinite benefits of com- puter technology. Speech recognition, the network computer, handheld devices such as personal digital assistants, pen top and palm-sized personal computers (PCs), flash memory cards, DVD, digital video, Internet 2, global positioning systems (GPS), and wireless technologies are a few of the emerging technologies that will have an impact on education. What follows are the most recent emerging Speech recognition refers to the computer’s ability to recognize and interpret human speech (see Figures 4.1 and 4.2).

FIGURE 4.1 SpeechMagic—Phillips speech recognition engine.

Computers that recognize speech circumvent the need for a keyboard. A computer that recognizes speech and does not have a monitor uses the concept of a hologram to project text into space. This has a number of advantages. For example, speech recognition just may make house keys obsolete and, at the same time, cut down on home burglaries. Imagine a computerized “lock” that opens doors only to those people whose voices it recognizes as members or guests of a household. David (2006) feels that speech recognition is becoming more viable and will soon be included in mobile applications. Speech recognition capabilities continue to improve. Early speech recognition worked by the method of discrete speech. The user had to pause between words. Phone companies utilize this approach. Continuous speech recognition is more sophisticated. A user can speak in a natural rhythm with close to normal speaking pace. Speech and voice recognition software usually allows the computer to be “trained” to recognize your individual voice patterns, rhythm, syntax, and vocabularies. The legal and medical professions actively utilize this software. Legal briefs, letters, patient charts, and data collection are applications in practice. In education, Kurzweil and Microsoft have developed voice recognition products (see the discus- sion later in this chapter and the companion website at www.ablongman.com/bitter7e. The future of this emerging technology is unlimited. We will see this technology ap- plied to cars, appliances, and software; it will especially have an impact on educa- tional software. This software will engage the learner in conversations that provide un- limited educational potential. A newer technology, “digitized” speech has an improved, humanlike quality. Although speech recognition has been slow in developing, the future potential is unlimited.

FIGURE 4.2 SpeechFlow—the PC-LAN–based digital dictation system.

Speech synthesis, on the other hand, refers to the computer’s ability to duplicate sounds similar to the human voice. The speech synthesizers of today are rudimentary and often difficult to understand, but researchers are constantly improving their quality. Computer speech has the potential for great impact on the lives of people who are voice-impaired, and experiments are now being conducted with computers that speak for those who have no voice.

Graphics is another area of technological advancement. With the phenomenal pop- ularity of video games, both at home and in game arcades, computer graphics is be- coming a popular art form. Researchers are working to make computer graphics more sophisticated (see Figure 4.3). Graphics will display a wider range of colors and effects that are more realistic. This will also have a great impact on classroom com- puters; spectacular graphics displays attract children to the computer and hold their attention.


(a) Image processing steps of human-interface system.

(b) Human-interface system.

The network computer (NC) is a fully functional, low-priced multimedia computer that accesses and uses internal and external networks. It works simi- larly to a television or telephone. Individual students would have their own NCs. Each NC is an intelligent system connected to networks, and it gains all its power from the network. The unit cost is minimal and provides a means for web brows- ing, electronic mail, applications software, and educational software that is on the network. Students could do their assignments offline, then download to the school network for teacher or peer review. The NC can potentially have a major impact on education.

Personal digital assistants (PDAs), also known as knowledge navigators, are avail- able to everyone. These represent smaller, more compact computers that function as message centers, digital cameras, music centers, digital photo albums, personal secretaries, and passports to wireless electronic networks (see Figure 4.4).

FIGURE 4.4 | Wireless personal digital   assistant (PDA).

Palm-sized PCs equipped with sensing probes will help students gather field data such as water or soil temperature. Flash memory cards, including iPods, are high- capacity memory devices with the ability to trans- fer data between information appliances as well as PCs. Portable storage technology such as MP3 players, iPods, USB flash drives, and flash memory devices will enable students to share digital pic- tures, video, and CD-quality music instantly and easily. These devices will help students create and share electronic portfolios and multimedia presentations.

Digital versatile disc (DVD) is the next generation of optical media. Its impact is on multimedia, video games, music, consumer electronics, and entertainment. DVD is slowly expected to replace videotape because of its excellent video quality and its interactive potential. In essence, DVD technology’s large data storage capacity provides for high-quality playback of video, audio, images, and text. For PCs, DVD allows for high rates of data transfer, paving the way for the convergence of TV and the computer. Education will be able to combine the interactivity with high- quality video and sound into sophisticated interactive learning programs.

Digital video and streaming video (see Chapter 14) has the capability to provide full motion, full screen, and full color for desktop computers. QuickTime is a common video file format for computers. The emergence of digital video will play an impor- tant role in the delivery of video on the Internet. In education, learning technologies and the World Wide Web (WWW) enable the integration, manipulation, and deliv- ery of various media.

Geographic information system (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) are developing rapidly. A GIS is a computer application capable of capturing, storing, retrieving, analyzing, and displaying geographically referenced information. The In- ternet has made it possible for anyone to access and use GIS technology. The use of GIS in education allows students to do searches such as: “Locate and display the homes of all the members of a class.” In the classroom, students may use GIS as a way of engaging in not only discovery but critical thinking. Global positioning systems (GPS) are able to show you your exact position on the earth anytime and in any weather. The GPS is a satellite-based worldwide radio-navigation system run by the U.S. Department of Defense. The system is made up of a constellation of twenty- four satellites and their ground stations. The system can compute the current lati- tude, longitude, and elevation of a GPS receiver anywhere on earth to within a few yards. GPS receivers are available in many different formats, including PDAs, and the cost is continually decreasing. Schools are beginning to use them for many stu- dent problem-solving and higher-order thinking situations. With GIS and/or GPS students can work on community or global situations and problems. Multidisciplinary  problem-solving projects can include mathematics, economics, science, geography, and biology. Environmental problems are a rich source of multidisciplinary topics. When using GIS or GPS, students are challenged to analyze the information to identify relationships, which may generate both new understanding as well as new problems to solve.

Internet2 (I2) according to Miller (2006) is a consortium comprised of a worldwide chain of forty-seven systems that communicate through a series of high-speed broadband networks. In the United States Internet2 is a collaborative effort of the nation’s leading universities, the private sector, and the federal government to develop the next generation of Internet technology and applications. This development will enable schools to send and receive high-quality pro- grams that are now limited due to transmission and delivery capabilities. For example, video and animations will be delivered full screen in real time (see Figure 4.5).

FIGURE 4.5      Virtual reality for the Internet.

The potential capabilities for schools is unlimited. Open source continues to gain momentum in education and business as costs for software continue to escalate. Open source refers to software that is created by in- dividuals or groups (usually volunteers) rather than a commercial company. The source code is usually considered to be free, although there can be fees associated with different applications or versions (Villano, 2006). In addition, individuals or organizations can modify the open source software to meet their personal or school needs.

Wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) is the popular term for a high-frequency wireless local-area network (WLAN). Advancements in wireless technologies will impact classroom con- nectivity. With increasing frequency and ease, classrooms will be connected to a local- area network (LAN) and a wide-area network (WAN) such as the WWW. Placing network resources in the classroom will significantly impact students’ access to real- time data exchanges. Wireless technologies combined with affordable hand-held and NC computers will make equipping every student with computing power achievable (see   http://searchmobilecomputing.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid40_gci213380,00.html). Presently, Wi-Fi is the most popular built-in wireless capability and is found in most of the newer computers. Many locations have Wi-Fi connectivity, which makes anytime, anywhere computing a dream come true. There are many forms of wireless connectivity, and they will only get faster and more convenient! Of course, these are only a few of the emerging technologies that will impact education.

Another area destined for rapid and significant development in the future is data communications, or the transfer and reception of data by electronic means. Many com- puter users rely on data communications via network systems. This allows large cor- porate offices to keep in constant communication with branch offices. It allows for centralized record keeping and enables a corporation to coordinate the efforts of all its branches to best meet the needs of its customers. It is an effective means of keep- ing business healthy. This trend toward communicating over data networks will con- tinue to grow, becoming faster and more reliable than it is today. Government will certainly work toward developing more effective means of data communications. It is important for governmental agencies to keep in contact with each other, for re- mote military bases to maintain communication, and even for nations to monitor each other’s activities. More sophisticated means of data communications, such as advanced fiber optics and microwave, will make communication faster and more ef- fective in the future.

Artificial intelligence (AI), along with databases and data communications, will undergo rapid changes and development. Artificial intelligence refers to devices capable of imitating human cognitive processes: thinking, remembering, learning, inferring, and so forth. For the past 25 years, researchers have been working to develop a teachable computer. Although today’s computers process numerical data, the AI computers of the future are expected to process nonnumerical data with tech- nology that is being developed all over the world. The impact of AI on computers in the schools will be momentous. Very young children will be able to operate com- puters without the need for typing skills or knowledge of programming languages. They will be able to teach the computer to carry out the activities they want done. Because AI computers function as intelligent aids to their users rather than as merely programmable machines, computers will become more effective teachers, listening to the students, responding according to information stored in memory, and then storing information away for later use. They will no longer rely on rigidly defined software. In addition, future generations of computers with artificial intelligence are expected to be able to decode instructions given them in ordinary human language. They may be able to compile their own instructions to perform virtually any task they are asked (literally!) to perform. Researchers say that these computers will be available in the near future.

Robots are now performing much work that was done in the past by humans and this is expected to increase in the future. The term robot calls to most minds an image of a metal humanoid similar to the tin man in The Wizard of Oz or the two characters in the Star Wars series, R2D2 and C3PO. Yet robots are highly sophisticated machines capable of performing many tasks. They are particularly well suited to jobs that are repetitious, dangerous, or difficult for humans to perform. Robots can be exposed to situations that might injure the health of human workers. In addition, they are capable of working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with little need for work stoppage. Although the initial purchase price of robots is high, robots are extremely cost-effective workers. The advent of computerized robots in manufacturing raises an important issue. Many people fear computers because they believe that these technological wonders will make human workers obsolete. What will happen to the large percent of the labor force whose jobs are eventually automated? Actually, there will be plenty of employ- ment opportunities available in the future, but the nature of those jobs will be differ- ent from the jobs today. This is why the retooling and retraining going on in business and industry are such enormous tasks. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov), the need for qualified people to work in computer-related careers will double in the next decade. Many experts say that that estimate is too moderate and predict that the demand for such workers will easily triple during the next 3 years. It is logical to assume, then, that those workers who find themselves displaced by au- tomation on the job will be retrained to assume computer-related positions. The ro- bots cannot exist, after all, without human workers to design, manufacture, operate, and maintain them. However, robots in industry are merely one facet of the fascinat- ing field of artificial intelligence.

School robotic clubs are becoming very popular with local, state, and national competitions. Davis (2005) reported how Carl Hayden High School started a robot- ics club and won a national competition (see www.wired.com/wired/archive/ 13.04/robot.html). Microsoft also has a robotics competition as well as Lego (www

.usfirst.org/jrobtcs/flego.htm). Chapter 11 includes a discussion of LEGO MIND- STORMS Education NXT, which has recently announced the next generation of ed- ucational robotics. This activity combines LEGO Education robotics and the latest technologies to provide learning activities for students ages 8 and up.

Virtual reality (VR) simulates an imaginary or real situation and allows the user to manipulate imaginary objects through, around, or in the imaginary event. VR is often referred to as cyberspace. Examples include taking a virtual walk through a proposed home or taking a trip through an imaginary heart and circulatory system. See www.answers.com/main/ntquery?s=virtual+reality&gwp=11&ver= &method=2 for more information and virtual reality examples.

Many arcade games are electronic simulations and are virtual reality based. The software used in gaming is often referred to as a video or computer game. Gaming uses the tools of modeling, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality. See http://stuffo.howstuffworks.com/video-game3.htm for more details on video games (see Chapter 10).

Assistive Technologies: Computers for People with Disabilities

The 2004 U.S. Census Bureau report estimated that about 3 million school age children have some sort of disability (retrieved August 1, 2006, from www.census.gov/hhes/ www/disability/2004acs.html). In general, assistive technology is defined as any technology that, when used by a student, enhances the performance of a target skill, including cognitive processes, learning, communication, and physical abilities. Technology is being used to accommodate many of these children. The widespread use of technology within the last decade has affected the lives of people with dis- abilities. Assistive technology is used to enhance the performance or function of a spe- cific skill which could be physical abilities, cognitive processes, learning, and/or communication. Any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities is considered to be an assistive technology device, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (PL 101-476). Keep in mind that technology has limits and there is not an assistive technology for all disabilities (see www.ed.gov/ offices/OSERS/Policy/IDEA/index.html; also Chapter 9). Assistive and adaptive tech- nology will continue to increase in capability and versatility into the future.

Here are some examples of assistive technologies:

  • Adaptive keyboards
  • Digital texts
  • Screen magnifiers
  • Screen readers
  • Voice recognition software
  • Mobile technologies

Generally, the disabilities are categorized into four areas of impairment, which are:

  • Hearing loss and deafness
  • Speech disorders
  • Vision impairment
  • Cognitive delay and learning impairment

Assistive technology in the hearing-impaired community includes those who are hard of hearing and those who are Deaf (with a capital D). Hard of hearing describes all levels of hearing loss between normal (unimpaired) hearing and severe or pro- found deafness. Individuals who are hard of hearing may be able to understand speech with the use of audio-assistive devices that amplify sound and utilize resid- ual hearing. People may be born with hearing impairment of this level or they may acquire it later in life. In both cases, the impairment may become progressively worse. Usually, people who are hard of hearing can become proficient in speech with ap- propriate hearing aids, supplemented by lip reading. It is through this that main- stream education is usually acceptable for hard-of-hearing students, especially if audio-assistive resources are available. For those with a severe to profound degree of hearing impairment, audio-assistive devices are usually not helpful. This group of people is divided into those who are Deaf (regard themselves as part of the Deaf Culture) and those who are deaf (do not regard themselves as part of the Deaf Cul- ture). Those who belong to the Deaf Culture consider their primary language to be sign language, while those who are deaf are usually not fluent in sign. Assistive tech- nology for those who are hard of hearing includes:

  • Telecommunications equipment and This group includes such devices as amplified telephones, text-pagers, mobile technologies, and TDDs (telecommu- nication devices for the deaf).
  • Listening devices, which may be used alone or in conjunction with a student’s hearing aids. They include personal FM systems, sound field FM systems, and t-coils (which drown out background noise and feedback on the telephone and are used with hearing aids).
  • Alerting devices. This category includes those devices that provide visual cues such as a flashing light, amplified sound, and/or vibration. If an alarm clock is wired to a vibrator and then placed under the bed pillow, the user is literally shaken awake. Auditory signals are sometimes used together with either visual or vibratory cues. Often, a single flashing light–signaling system in the home of a person who is a deaf or hard of hearing can be wired to alert the person to several different sounds through a code of different flashes. Three slow flashes may mean the doorbell, three quick flashes may mean the telephone, or regular on–off flashes may signal that the baby is crying.

Speech impairment is an oral motor function that causes problems in communi- cation. The cause is usually unknown, but it may be due to hearing loss, brain in- jury, drug abuse, neurological disorders, mental retardation, physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate, and vocal abuse or misuse. Assistive and adaptive tech- nology for speech impairments usually is served in the form of an adaptive or aug- mentative communication device (AAC). An AAC is any device, system, or method that improves the ability of a child with communication impairment to communicate effectively. Ideally, an AAC system includes more than one mode of communication, with the child using whichever is the most efficient given the persons, setting, and activity at hand. Very often one of the modes of communication in an AAC program is natural speech.

The factors that help to determine which assistive paths to take for effective communication include the age of the individual user, the cause of the disability, the course of the disability, and the user’s environmental demands. Augmentative communication can include a communicative technique (e.g., speech, manual signs, physical boards), a symbol set or system (e.g., Mayer-Johnson symbols, Signs of American Sign Language), or communication/interaction behavior (e.g., demands/ requests, conversations).

Communication aids can include speech output devices, which give the user ver- bal feedback and are more readily understood by the child’s peers. Simple electronic aids such as the BigMack and the One Step Communicator, which hold one message, or the Step by Step, which holds several messages in sequence, are excellent for class- room activities. Messages can quickly be recorded or replaced. These devices are fairly limited in scope, but they can be used to introduce a child to a low-tech electronic aid. Visually impaired refers to those people who have partial sight, low vision, are legally blind, or totally blind. Partially sighted indicates that some type of visual problem has resulted in a need for special education. Low vision generally refers to a severe visual impairment, not necessarily limited to distance vision. Low vision applies to all individuals with sight who are unable to read a newspaper at a nor- mal viewing distance, even with the aid of eyeglasses or contact lenses. These in- dividuals use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, although they may require adaptations in lighting or the size of print, and sometimes Braille. Legally blind indicates that a person has less than 20/200 vision in the better eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its widest point). Totally blind students learn via Braille or other nonvisual media. Fruchterman (2003) feels that the wireless cell phone is the key to greater access to technology for people with disabilities. His premise is that the confluence of the mobile computing including voice recognition, voice synthesis, and optical character recognition will soon be included in the software of a mobile phone and will have numerous applications for people with visual impairments. Related speech applications as well as many future tech- nological developments will have a major impact on the quality of life of the population with visual impairments.

Assistive technology for vision impair- ment includes special devices that assist with independent reading, communica- tion through printed text, and access of computerized information. Assistive tech- nology products include auditory text access (Talking Books, Kurzweil Reader [Kurzweil, 2003]), text enlargement (hand- held magnifiers, large-print books, Closed Circuit Television [CCTV] system), tactile- text (Braille-to-letters), portable note- taking devices (Braille and speech notetaker), and computer access (screen magnifier, speech-synthesized voice output, refreshable Braille display that produces hard-copy Braille). One of the latest aids for blind people is the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader. The reader is a portable device that permits the blind to read printed documents anywhere, at home or away, without the aid of sighted people. This product takes a digital picture of a page of text, and then reads it aloud to the blind person, either through a speaker or through earphones (Mossberg, 2006).

Finally, one of the most promising areas of tech- nological advancement in assistive technologies to watch in the future is the research and development of devices to aid the population with disabilities (see Figure 4.6).

FIGURE 4.6 Bausch and Lomb PC Magni-Viewer magnifies on-screen information 175 percent.

Many promising devices are under study today and will become more accessible as computer technology develops smaller and less ex- pensive computers.

Learning technologies have proven extremely effective in special education environments. Slow learners are comfortable using computers to master academic subjects that have proven difficult for them in the past. In addition, students who are paralyzed or suffer muscle impairment that prevents them from holding a pen are capable of writing essays and solving mathematical problems with a computer. Students who are severely handicapped or have special needs can use computers to learn in their homes, if they are unable to attend classes (see Figure 4.7).

FIGURE 4.7      Voice mail with voice recognition to email software.

Computers also help people with disabilities in other ways. Voice synthesizers allow people who are speech impaired to communicate their thoughts, perhaps for the first time. Still other devices help people who have vision impairment to read and generate written texts. Because artificial intelligence research promises to make computers more capa- ble of imitating human activities, more computer aids for those with disabilities are sure to be developed in the future (see Figure 4.8). This gives hope to many today.

FIGURE 4.8   Foot-controlled mouse.

Future Technologies Impact on Education

Of course there are many other technologies that will affect education. Pascopella (2006) described a school of the future which was developed as a partnership be- tween the School District of Philadelphia and Microsoft. This model school utilizes many of the technologies and web resources discussed in this book.

Figure 4.9 lists streaming video, gaming software, text recognition, wireless connectivity, speech recognition, advanced hand-held devices, accessibility, and virtual reality as tech- nologies that are advancing to a capability and cost at which they will be applicable to education. It is beyond the scope of this book to describe each, but be aware of these technological areas and that they may be valuable to enhancing your future teaching.


The Future Student’s Personal Computer

The future student’s personal computer will be a palmtop or tablet device with wireless Internet access, software programs, input devices, and many mathemati- cal capabilities. The student palmtop will have a calculator, graphing capabilities, productivity tools for word processing and spreadsheets, geometry construction tools, simulations, algebra systems, and intelligent tutor capabilities. The computer will start instantly (Murray, 2003). It also will be able to adapt to the user’s inter- ests and abilities and may even talk to him or her. This wireless device will have a touch screen option like a magic slate, allowing students to input or write without a keyboard. Battery life will be similar to that of pagers—lasting weeks. So merg- ing the organizer, pager, TV, Internet, streaming video, mp3 player, voice recogni- tion, and more advanced handwriting recognition on today’s tablet computers (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/cybershake021111.html) will produce a very slim, lightweight student palmtop (hand-held) personal computer.

Many of the technologies listed previously will be available on a palmtop or be accessible via a PC and the Internet. Students will have access to resources or digi- tal content required by the school for their academic success. Students will be able to access many of the historical archives as well as download required textbook ma- terials as needed. No more big, heavy backpacks! Students’ academic activities and assignments will always be with them and can be sent to the teacher and/or parent for evaluation. Special needs functionality will be an integral part of this hand-held PC as well. It is clear that future technologies will become more interactive, promoting exploration, problem solving, communication, and higher-order thinking. By 2012, every student will have his or her own palmtop (hand-held) personal computer. This will truly be anytime, anywhere learning (see Chapter 5 for the $100 laptop; also, visit http://www.laptop.org).

The Changing Media Lab

The current trend to merge the computer lab with the library or media center to create a digital media lab will continue. The media lab exists as both a physical space—a digital media lab—and a virtual space—a collection of web-based resources. The lab will provide access to existing resources and will support the creation of new customized media projects for the faculty, support personnel, and students, as well as the community (see Figure 4.10). Tomorrow’s media centers will include fewer shelves of books and periodicals and more digital storage and retrieval systems. The process of data storage and retrieval, or databases, will become vital links between information and the people who require that information. Internet2 will provide network capabilities for libraries and media centers to provide rich worldwide multimedia digital libraries, including real-time video (Miller, 2006).

Indeed, every subject that is taught in schools today can be adapted to digital learning. The CEO Forum on Education and Technology (2000) defines digital learn- ing as “the educational approach that integrates technology, connectivity, content and human resources.” Programs such as Math•ed•ology (see http://tblr.ed.asu.edu/ Projects/MathEdology/?w=1016), by Technology Based Learning and Research at Arizona State University, were designed to provide teachers with anytime, anywhere professional development. Simulations will be designed to give teachers and students opportunities to solve problems and interact with other professionals outside of the school setting. Project-based inquiry, virtual communities- of-practice (Linn, 1997), and other forms of sophisticated pedagogies will support students’ development of higher-order cognitive, affective, and social skills neces- sary for success in a knowledge-based economy.

Clearly, we are in the midst of a technological revolution; the phenomenal advancements in technology that we have witnessed during the past 20 years are only the tip of the iceberg. What technological achievements lie in our future is anyone’s guess! Because our technological society will have deep roots in math and science concepts, people of all ages will be expected to become both scientifically and technologically literate.

FIGURE 4.10 Emerging technologies support the creation of new customized media projects.