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Open Online Learning with the State University of New York (SUNY) Emerging Technologies for Lifelong Learning and Success (#EmTechMOOC)

We are all bombarded with new and ever-changing apps for our smartphones, mobile devices, and computers. A popular interactive infographic titled, “The Internet in Real Time,” shows over 1,000 apps are downloaded per second from the Apple and Google Play Store. How is someone to know which apps to download? Oftentimes, they don’t. With new additions to technology happening at such an astounding rate, it’s not tools that we need to master, but the ability to choose and apply new technology.

Due to the disruption in the college classroom as a result of today’s uncertain health climate, both instructors and students need to be able to use technology effectively to communicate, collaborate, create, and think critically. These skills, described as the 4Cs of 21st-century learners, are cited by the National Education Association as being the four most important skills that are needed in today’s workforce. There is a plethora of freely-available technology tools and apps to choose from, and the State University of New York Emerging Technologies for Lifelong Learning and Success (#EmTechMOOC) teaches participants how to evaluate their options and choose the best tool for the job. The main goal of EmTech is to help people develop lifelong learning strategies to stay current with technology change. 

One of the first options all instructors and students should follow is to adopt the university supported tools through their institution. Enterprise supported platforms provide very secure and reliable options and are also often supported by local technical support specialists. A number of these tools are also featured as resources within the EmTech project. Sticking to familiar methods will help instructors and students alleviate stress. The EmTech curated resource collection also provides various alternative opportunities for technologies to support and enhance enterprise supported tools and fosters good practices of always having a back-up plan when dealing with technology. The functionality of many of these technologies extends beyond the tool selection available at many campuses, providing information about how to find, create and annotate visual resources, as well as, a wide variety of other technology applications.

The EmTech project consists of two associated parts; #EmTechMOOC and EmTechWIKI. The MOOC, offered through Coursera as one of the most popular MOOC platforms, provides a supportive environment for dialogue and sharing. The EmTechWIKI website is built to complement #EmTechMOOC. Presently, this portion of the EmTech process is the most useful aspect of the project for instructors at this time. The website serves as a socially-curated discovery engine to discover tools, tutorials, and resources about a variety of emerging technologies, such as audio, video, blogs, wikis, presentations, simulations, and more. The WIKI can be used together with #EmTechMOOC and also as a stand-alone resource. Everyone is welcome to add and edit WIKI resources.

Recently, a category in the WIKI was added to highlight essential tools. These are the tools that faculty have likely already used in some capacity. EmTechWIKI is a vehicle specifically designed to match their learning objectives to the technology that can best serve their needs. 

#EmTechMOOC is a massive open online course, otherwise known as a MOOC, and is a free online learning opportunity open to everyone in the world. The course offers hands-on discovery learning exercises for anyone who wants to learn how to find, evaluate, and use emerging technologies to meet their personal and professional needs. #EmTechMOOC is designed to help college students, instructors, and professionals step up their game to meet this challenge. 

The modules within the MOOC share information about the importance of the 4Cs as necessary skills for 21st-century learners. Participants build a personal ePortfolio to display artifacts they create through Discovery Exercises within the modules. Their portfolio serves as a place to reflect on their learning and also to display artifacts to showcase their accomplishments. Coursera Certificates of Completion and Digital Badges are awarded after completing MOOC requirements. 

A few professors have incorporated #EmTechMOOC into coursework as a part of their required course activities. Students benefited from learning about technology tools and relating their tool selections to desired goals. An aspect that makes EmTech unique is that the WIKI resources used to complete the MOOC Discovery Exercises are selected based on the objectives that are being addressed. This is in stark contrast to what is often the case of selecting a technology just for the sake of technology. Time is spent thinking about the objectives before selecting a tool or resource to explore. 

Faculty and students are being asked to move online quickly to provide remote instruction in this time of need. They need to be both creators and publishers and be able to communicate and collaborate in today’s global world. SUNY’s #EmtechMOOC helps participants develop lifelong learning habits and build 21st-century skills. Learn more about EmTech at: http://suny.edu/emtech 

The following quote from one of the participants who has completed #EmTechMOOC who shares their experience in this learning opportunity:

”I found in this course – Exploring Emerging Technologies for Lifelong Learning and Success – the essence of what I was looking for: technological adaptation, through learning and exchange.

 I was able to know several digital inclusion tools, made available in an organized way and in line with my objectives and profile. This, coupled with the fact that I had to present works in my portfolio, contributed much to the resumption and conclusion of a personal project that had been stopped for some time.
” — anonymous participant

This project has been developed through a collaboration among students, faculty, and staff from many SUNY campuses. Funding has been provided through a University at Buffalo Professional Pathways Grant and the SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG). Continued support is provided through the University at Buffalo LibrariesBinghamton University’s Center for Learning and Teaching, and the SUNY Center for Professional Development.

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