Horizon Report Tech Trend

A screenshot from the hotel portion of the “Who is Oscar Lake” game by Topics Entertainment.

This week’s assignment in EDTECH 501 was the Tech Trends assignment. Dr. Kemp introduced it to our class in part by asking us to read the NMC Horizon Report. Fortunately, it was something that I’d already had a chance to look at, because it was also required reading in my mobile app development class (EDTECH 597) several weeks ago. Because of my earlier exposure to the report, my thinking had already been directed somewhat toward how to use some of these emerging technologies in my lesson plans in the classroom. Two in particular—mobile apps and video games—were already on my mind, because I’m in the mobile app development class, and there’s a particular video game I’ve wanted to use for a long time in a German class. It’s called “Who is Oscar Lake?” by Topics Entertainment and it’s a game that I have used to learn German and to teach my private tutoring students some German. It’s the focus of my lesson plan for the tech trends assignment as are mobile apps.

Language-Acquisition in the College Classroom

In language learning classes demand that foreign-language students develop competencies in all four language areas—speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension. A good lesson in a foreign language  exposes students to all aspects of foreign-language competencies each time they come to a language class. These are part of the standards set forth in foreign-language education. With that in mind, I wrote a language plan for a college-level German class that lasts 50 minutes since that’s what I’ve taught. These are at the 200-level, and the lesson plan would work for a German conversation and composition class.

The other guiding principle of my selection was that I wanted to introduce vocabulary to students that is immediately useful if they travel to and in a German-speaking country. When I was an undergraduate German student, I did not fully appreciate this aspect of the Oscar Lake game until I lived in Germany and traveled around. Then I was very glad I had been taught vocabulary related to activities like buying train tickets, checking into hotels, going to restaurants, etc. The lessons the game taught me were used over and over again during my travels, so I knew that the game worked. They also helped a student of mine pass a difficult exam that she needed to complete successfully so that she could work in Germany, so I knew it would be a good option.

Additionally, certain aspects of language learning are harder to facilitate in the classroom. Listening to the language spoken by native speakers and within the context that it is to be used can be challenging. Although most college-level language classes are taught in the target language, they are often taught by non-native speakers. Both the German mobile app and the game allow the student to hear German spoken by a native speaker in addition to providing for the other aspects of language learning.

Finally, despite trying to incorporate new technology as much as I possibly could, I have opted to use “old” technology when it comes to the German/ English dictionaries. I made this decision, because individual words have nuances that online dictionaries don’t cover in depth–at least the ones that exist now like Beolingus or Leo German Dictionary. Often to understand the real meaning of the word, you have to read through several entries in the dictionary and see how the dictionary uses them in context before you know which word to use. While I’m confident that this will eventually change, the electronic dictionaries are not where they need to be yet to give students full comprehension of a word’s subtly, so I’m asking students to have a traditional dictionary.

My assignment is below.

AECT Standards

I was able to touch on quite a few of the AECT standards. Here are the technologies involved in the lesson plan with the corresponding AECT Standard/s below each example:

Systems design was one of the main focuses of the assignment and fits the the following standard.

  • 1.1 Instructional Systems Design: Instructional Systems Design (ISD) is an organized procedure that includes the steps of analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, and evaluating instruction.

“Who is Oscar Lake” is a computer-based video game and the following standard.

  • 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies: Computer-based technologies are ways to produce or deliver materials using microprocessor-based resources.

The use of the smart phones plus the audio elements and video game fit the following standards.

  • 2.4 Integrated Technologies: Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer.
  • 3.1 Media Utilization: Media utilization is the systematic use of resources for learning.

The creation of the assignment and the suggestions for its use touch on the following standards.

  • 3.2 Diffusion of Innovations: Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption.
  • 3.3 Implementation and Institutionalization: Implementation is using instructional materials or strategies in real (not simulated) settings. Institutionalization is the continuing, routine use of the instructional innovation in the structure and culture of an organization.

This list does not include the foreign language education standards. However, they are included in the lesson plan.

Digital Inequality Assignment

The digital divide addresses those who have access to technology and those who do not. It’s a common theme among not only those who work in the media, but also for people like me who look at educational technology. While on the surface it may seem irrelevant that a group of people do not have regular access to the Internet and to mobile technology, it’s become increasingly important. There are job and educational opportunities that a specific group of people will not have access to because they do not have access to online resources like job boards or lack basic computer skills like Microsoft Office, which is required for many jobs today.

The people who are usually the most affected by the digital divide are those who live in lower economic conditions, non-native English speakers, and other groups marginalized by income or location. The purpose of our assignment was to make proposals that would help bridge the gap in the digital divide. We opted to focus on Idaho, because three of the six people in the group live here and because we just had a huge bill on the election ballot that in part dealt with technology in the schools. It was voted down by Idaho citizens.

Working on the Digital Divide Project

Initially, it was difficult to come together on the project, because none of us are used to working on a project solely online. There was also some additional challenges in trying to reduce the amount of information we had to read into an intelligible report. This caused us to have a lot of starts and stops as we waded through the materials and hammered out the details for each idea.

We tried to divide the work up in terms of people’s strengths. We felt that this would save time and make the process more efficient. To that end, Bob dealt with graphics, Kathy wrote the information about the PSAs since she deals with marketing in her job. Brenda added the introduction, transition materials between slides, and the APA at the end. Greg worked on the computer lab information for both the schools and the libraries. Annie worked on this a bit, too as well as on the mobile learning unit and Internet cafes.

I did a lot of the organizational tasks—it helped that I used to be a newspaper editor, so I helped break the information down into easier chunks, set at least one of the conferences we had on Google Hangout and helped edit the overall presentation. I also contributed the information about the proposals we rejected. It made sense for me to do this since I live in Idaho, and I was following Proposition 3.

Hindsight Being 20/20…

I learned a lot about working remotely and about working in groups with this project. Everyone had a great sense of humor, which helped a lot! Also assigning tasks according to skill levels also helped. One of the things that I would recommend for the future is that the person doing graphics not be bombarded with information. Initially, everyone’s slide information was going to go through me, but in one of our meetings, we decided that everyone should have access to it. It made sense to do this since everyone brought great insight into each slide. However, it was a bit confusing to the person putting everything together since soooo much information was thrown his way.

I also would recommend looking into some project management software for future tasks. I use this kind of software for the magazine that I work for since a lot of us work remotely. It allows everyone working on the same account to access the material, but doesn’t clutter up the forum as our became toward the middle of the project as research information started coming in.

Finally, I’m not sure that two weeks is enough time to really get to know people’s working styles. I’m very adaptable, but it would be a nice luxury to know what helps people and how they work best so that we could tap into this even more and at an earlier place in our work.

Here’s our proposal.

This project aligns with the following AECT Standards:


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to develop instructional materials and experiences using print, audiovisual, computer-based, and integrated technologies.

2.4 Integrated Technologies

“Integrated technologies are ways to produce and deliver materials which encompass several forms of media under the control of a computer” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 40). Integrated technologies are typically hypermedia environments which allow for: (a) various levels of learner control, (b) high levels of interactivity, and (c) the creation of integrated audio, video, and graphic environments. Examples include hypermedia authoring and telecommunications tools such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web.


Candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to use processes and resources for learning by applying principles and theories of media utilization, diffusion, implementation, and policy-making.

3.2 Diffusion of Innovations

“Diffusion of innovations is the process of communicating through planned strategies for the purpose of gaining adoption” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 46). With an ultimate goal of bringing about change, the process includes stages such as awareness, interest, trial, and adoption.

3.4 Policies and Regulations

“Policies and regulations are the rules and actions of society (or its surrogates) that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 47). This includes such areas as web-based instruction, instructional and community television, copyright law, standards for equipment and programs, use policies, and the creation of a system which supports the effective and ethical utilization of instructional technology products and processes.

Standard 4: MANAGEMENT

Candidates demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to plan, organize, coordinate, and supervise instructional technology by applying principles of project, resource, delivery system, and information management.

4.2 Resource Management

“Resource management involves planning, monitoring, and controlling resource support systems and services” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 51). This includes documentation of cost effectiveness and justification of effectiveness or efficiency for learning as well as the resources of personnel, budget, supplies, time, facilities, and instructional resources.