The current issue comes to press amongst a sense of reflection and renewal within education. Prompted by the challenges of a global pandemic, many of us are contemplating how to make the field – and all that it encompasses – more nimble and flexible. The goal, of course, is to improve teaching and learning for everyone, everywhere. And, for readers of the Journal, it should come as no surprise that technology, in all its shapes and sizes, figures prominently in our collective search to improve what we do and how we do it.
It is within this broader context that the current issue's six articles are presented. Two of the articles focus on issues of education policy and technology. They ask key questions about the readiness of our educational systems and our ability to enact policies that align with the needs of modern learners. Another set of articles concentrates on the role technology is playing in the process of language learning – an ever-present need for life in our interconnected, multicultural society. The final two articles examine specific technology-enabled innovations. These works describe efforts to test the possibilities of digital tools designed to support diverse learners in different content areas. Taken together, these manuscripts continue the Journal's ongoing commitment to high-quality, interdisciplinary scholarship.
To help you get oriented, here is a brief summary of each article in the issue.
In the first article, Onuh and colleagues consider how internet connectivity affects students’ capacity to meet assessment and learning expectations. Using a count data model, they provide evidence that students with poor internet connectivity tend to have higher rates of missed assessments. Conclusions advanced by the study encourage educational institutions to create online learning policies that align with the technical realities of the digital age.
Miço and Cungu, in their article titled, "The Need for Digital Education in the Teaching Profession," analyze the state of digital education in Albania. Employing a survey based on the European Digital Competence Framework, the authors pinpoint a number of specific areas of education in need of improvement such as teacher training and physical infrastructure. The article concludes by encouraging policy makers to consider ways to support regional and national efforts to enhance the system’s digital development.
In the third article, Rottenhofer and colleagues share an interdisciplinary study exploring the use of computational thinking skills to support language learning. Using a multiple-case study approach, the work presents evidence that secondary language learners were medium to low users of learning strategies related to computational thinking. In the authors’ view, strengthening these strategies is an avenue for enhancing language learning skills and preparing them their future professional lives.
In another manuscript focused on technology and language learning, Alvi shares an investigation of the influence of presence on the second language learning experience. Situated in India, this study extends the Community of Inquiry framework, by proposing a more comprehensive model that incorporates different forms of presence (e.g., emotional, technological). Conclusions shared in the paper indicate that accounting for different forms of presence should be considered when designing and implementing second language learning experiences.
In the fifth article, Mokmin and Ridzuan explore how to leverage immersive technologies to help students with learning disabilities benefit from physical education. Drawing on theories of motor and multimedia learning, the authors describe an application designed to make physical education more accessible for secondary students with disabilities. In the conclusion, the authors suggest that carefully designed immersive technologies coupled with appropriate learning material may extend physical education opportunities to a more diverse group of learners.
For the final article of the issue, Meletiadou presents a case study exploring educational digital storytelling as a mechanism for developing 21st century skills. Detailing findings based on quantitative and qualitative data, this mixed-methods study provides evidence that digital storytelling can help learners improve on a variety of cognitive, affective and interpersonal outcomes including writing performance, critical thinking skills, self-confidence, and intercultural awareness. The article concludes by discussing the implications of digital storytelling and suggesting some implementation strategies for higher education.
Overall, these articles illustrate the quality and variety of education-related scholarship happening around the world from Austria to the Philippines. Together they represent our collective effort (a) to understand how technology is influencing – directly and indirectly – the field, and (b) to position education to face the known and unknown challenges of the future.
Daniel L. Hoffman and Devayani Tirthali, Associate Editors
Michael P. Menchaca, Editor
IAFOR Journal of Education: Technology in Education