Open and Distance Education/Common Technologies in Open and Distance Education
The models that were presented in the previous section can be used to enumerate emerging technologies conveniently. In ICT, technologies are usually first classified as hardware (physical technologies) or software (programs that usually run on hardware). In this section, we shall enumerate and describe some common hardware and software technologies for Open and Distance Education.
The Internet, which is noticeably spelled with a capital “I” is a special internetwork of computer hardware and software that are connected to each other using the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), which is referred to as TCP/IP. It is a very important technology for Open Distance Education as it is essential for online learning and almost all of emerging technologies in the 21st century.
Client devices are defined as those devices that are used to access information from a server. This means that in an Open and Distance Education perspective, these are what learners use to access online courses. Therefore it includes desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers, and smart phones.
Servers are computers or clusters that host software that are often accessed in the cloud. Open and Distance Education relevant software such as the Learning Management System (LMS), Social Media Platforms, and Project Management Systems are hosted on servers. Servers are also what makes cloud computing possible.
Mixed, Augmented, and Virtual Reality (MAVR) devices are devices that are commonly associated with the emerging field of MAVR and its related software. These devices include VR viewers such as Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR, Occulus Rift, HTC Vive, and Veative goggles as well as the more sophisticated Hololens or Magic leap goggles for Augmented Reality or what is still debatably termed as Mixed Reality.
Asynchronous Communication Technologies
Asynchronous Communication Technologies are tools that allow communication that that is not time-bound among and between learners and teachers. A message sent today can have a reply as early as the next 5 seconds or as late as next week. Common technologies are e-mail and forums. One popular Q & A platform is called Piazza, and also used sometimes as a virtual learning environment in some distance learning institutions.
Synchronous Communication Technologies
Synchronous Communication Technologies are tools that allow real-time communication between and among learners and teachers. A good analog example for this would be the telephone. Popular synchronous communication technologies that are used for Open and Distance Education are Skype, Google Hangouts, as well as messaging apps like Line and Whatsapp.
Learning Management Systems or Virtual Learning Environments
These are usually considered as the heart or core of most online learning institutions or initiatives. They contain almost all tools that an online teacher would need to evaluate or monitor the progress of learners. On the other hand, it allows for synchronous, and asynchronous communication among learners. It usually has virtualized activities for assignments, lectures, and quizzes, etc. One popular Learning Management System is Moodle. A Virtual learning environment can range from a formal and full-featured LMS to a partially functional one that is focused on encouraging a certain type of learning. One example is Basecamp, which is typically a project management system, but can also be used as a learning environment for project-based learning.
Productivity applications allow online teachers and learners create and co-create materials that can be used for learning. Common applications are Google Drive Apps, Google Sites, Podcast apps, and Screencasting Software.
Social Media Apps
Social Media applications like Facebook and Twitter are now often used as supplementary learning technologies by educators involved in blended and eLearning. They are called social media apps because they facilitate “social media”, which are media that are created through the creation and interaction of people in an online community.