|New Training Technologies (ILO - UNEVOC, 1995, 95 p.)|
It is important to look at the trends in order to invest in such a way that it will be easy to follow the evolution without having to throw away relatively recent investments. Some trends about new technologies and education for the next few years are already visible in the most recent hardware and software announcements, research and experimental applications, educational titles offerings, debates in international conferences.
Some of the trends mentioned below are already being implemented on a restricted basis, as prototypes or experiments; it is wise to consider them as trends for as long as they are not generalised.
More "edutainment" (a combination of education and entertainment) will be offered, at low prices on small and cheap equipment. These titles are generally not educational tools, but the same equipment and approach can be employed to use and develop relatively simple training material at a reasonable price and with easy access everywhere, anytime. This is hopefully going to happen.
NTTs will be more and more powerful (faster microprocessors, faster and bigger memories, faster and larger storage systems, better display quality, faster and more complex printers, etc.). The same applies to software: easier to use, more functions, etc.
Standardization will improve, in all domains: audio and video files, compression techniques, file formats, etc., which means faster and cheaper development of additional learning material, easier translation into other languages, easier adaptation to other cultures, etc.
The move from analogue to digital will continue and probably go as far as possible. This will increase the possibility to exchange learning material, to send it via computer networks, to store it in computer data bases, etc. It also allows the use of compression techniques.
The teachers' role will undergo a change from what it is today, it will be seen more as that of a guide, a counsellor who helps learners to discover, understand the subject matter, delivered by NTTs. This supposes a considerably different approach to teachers' training and restraining (including self-training18), and, even more important, acceptance of the new role by the teachers themselves. This is probably a critical challenge for the years 90's. Some people say that teachers should become chameleons to adapt themselves to NTTs. Retraining of teachers already at work might have to be done on the job with the support of NTTs.
18 Multi-media training, trainers' skills, D. LERCLERCQ: Vocational Training, 1/1991.
Learners will of course have to change their way of learning from a rather passive mode to a very active one, helped by teachers and tutors in their new roles, and by NTTs. Teachers and learners will have to be part of a multimedia-literate educational community, in order to get the most from the use of NTTs.
All this will be possible, or at least easier, thanks to the implementation of networked multimedia, also called multimedia distributed computing19: as a first step, multimedia capabilities are extended from stand-alone PCs to the whole range of products (workstations, minicomputers, mainframes) allowing the same software to be used on all of them; then, the connection of hardware through networks (LANs and WANs) opens the way to distributed, networked client/server-based multimedia for communication and delivery of information in all its forms to those who need it, anytime and anywhere. Such multimedia networks have already been implemented in a few schools, universities and enterprises20.
19 Multimedia distributed computing - IBM White paper, November 1992.
20 Burnaby South Secondary School (British Columbia), James Madison University (Virginia), or Caterpillar - in Enterprise multimedia - IBM - March 1994.
Cooperation is going to increase at all levels: cooperative design and development of educational material (the term "virtual faculties" has been used) will be possible using the same networks; the result will be more material produced faster, at lower cost, and easily updated every time it is necessary.
Information highways are discussed in the USA and in some European countries; they will offer any type of information (including video, interactive TV, etc.) to everybody in a country or in a region; this will transform learning at home in a dramatic way. This includes the expected merger between the computer and television, already perceptible on a small scale through multimedia where the computer tends to become a TV, but this time on a very large basis (TV sets are available in many houses throughout the world) and the other way round: the TV set will become a computer. Computer manufacturers, TV producers, software developers, cable TV carriers are already working on this21. This means training at home, upon request and at a reasonable cost.
21 PC et television: tout ce qui va changer sur vos ecrans - Gilles FOUCHARD et Alain BARITAULT - Multimedia Solutions - May 1994.