Winter 2010     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 14, Issue 4        Editorial-1:

Educational Technologies: Innovations, Experiences and Outcomes
The technological revolution, which continues to unfold, is reshaping the ways that people gather information, collaborate, interact, and learn. According to the annual Horizon Report (2010), the role of the academy and the manner in which faculty prepare students for their future lives is also changing. Faculty must think of themselves as more than content specialists who disseminate information and knowledge from the lectern. Although content expertise will always remain important for educators, increasingly, they must also be thoughtful designers and facilitators of learning environments in which a variety of technological tools are used to achieve pedagogical objectives. Instruction is being delivered in a number of ways beyond the traditional classroom, including through hybrid or blended courses that combine face-to-face and online activities. Many educators strive to offer opportunities for students to be more active in the learning process, sometimes using problem-based learning, creative computer games, social network sites, mobile devices, or collaborative software, to name a few. Those educators who are interested in seeing the extent to which their novel efforts are fruitful may even use web-based data collection software to gather information from students, assess learning outcomes, and refine their curriculum. As always, the needs of students must be considered. Students want timely, accessible and inexpensive educational materials; they expect to study, learn, and collaborate in an effective, efficient, and enjoyable manner. They hope to acquire knowledge and skills, as well as practical and interactive experiences that will benefit them in their future. They will likely need to develop their digital media literacy skills, regardless of what type of profession they enter. Many contemporary educators are experimenting with existing and emerging technologies and finding new ways to engage their students to prepare them for the dynamic, global, and technologically advanced world in which they will live and work.

This issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly features articles on electronic learning, or e-learning, which involves the use of technology to enhance teaching, learning, and the assessment of learning outcomes. The authors of these articles are instructors at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, the College of Charleston, Wayne State University, University of Macedonia, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, and the University of Rhode Island. By sharing their creative uses of technology, these educators encourage us to consider how we might incorporate new tools and techniques into our own teaching. I am pleased to introduce the valuable approaches explained by the contributors to this provocative journal issue.

Teufel argues that familiarity with digital communication concepts, applications, and tools will be vital for student success in the 21st century. He explains how free, online software (WordPress) can be used to promote important characteristics of digital literacy through direct interaction with course material.

Rodriguez-Sabater and Weyers contend that the popularity of social network communities have prompted instructors to use them in their classes, creating debate about their appropriateness. These authors explore how one such site, NING, has been used successfully in education, including applications for both teaching and administration. Tracey and Unger continue the exploration of NING, however, with a focus on the importance of student motivation, as well as constructivist instructional design.

Mavrommati and Makridou-Bousiou describe how computer games can be used to teach history. Some of the characteristics of the games, including simulations, interaction, and exploration of multiple alternative perspectives can be helpful in promoting historical understanding.

Bensky introduces us to techniques for creating custom, web-based student-data collection software. He argues that small, ultra-customized data collection methodologies can be extremely useful in gathering and analyzing student input. He discusses both the practical and pedagogical benefits of assessing student learning.

Smith and Boggan argue that obsolete technology is being replaced by tools such as pod-casting, webcam, skype, Prezi, iPod, Cool Iris, and Wordle. They present new learning systems and technology-driven pedagogy designed to reach the new generation of learners.

Finally, Portman-Daley, Dyehouse and Pennell investigate an experimental transition towards a hybrid course environment for first-year writing courses. They examine different approaches taken by two instructors, and suggest the necessity of designing a hybrid course through an “online-centric” model. The impact of this transition on student learning, engagement and outcome assessment is also explored.

With this issue, e-learning continues as an important area featured in Academic Exchange Quarterly. The dynamic and rapidly evolving nature of this topic necessitates continued examination of the novel ways of using technology to enhance student outcomes. For this reason, I am pleased to announce that Academic Exchange Quarterly will again feature the e-learning topic titled Educational Technologies: Innovations, Experiences and Outcomes in its Winter 2011 edition. I encourage you to consider submitting your own work, and to share the call for papers with colleagues. Submissions are welcome from anyone who is actively involved in the area of teaching or technological innovation. Please identify your submission with the keyword: ELEARNING, and feel free to contact me with any questions about submission guidelines. I look forward to seeing how innovative technologies and creative educators continue to shape the educational landscape.

Lorraine D. Jackson, Ph.D.
Feature Editor, E-Learning,
Professor, Communication Studies Department
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.