How Do We Define Emerging Technologies?

Emerging technologies, the more I read about what exactly this means the more I related it to my very own students.  These are technologies that are in progress, they are growing and developing, they have tons of unrealized potential.  And each one has a different personality, story, and trajectory.  Each have areas of strength and each have areas to improve upon.

According to Veletsianos (2008), “emerging Technologies are tools, innovations, and advancements utilized in diverse educational settings (including distance, face-to-face, and hybrid forms of education) to serve varied education-related purposes (e.g., instructional, social, and organizational goals).”  I have to admit, I tend to be a bit old school, I like pencil and paper, and a paperback book to my computer and Kindle.  However, these tools, innovations, and advancements offer me the opportunity to provide my unique and wonderful students with more customized and personal education through emerging technologies.

I already see the benefit of online learning.  The classroom I work in has grade levels 7 though 12 and wide variety of needs.  Online learning allows me to provide differentiated classes to my students at a pace that best suits them.  This foray into online learning has me especially interested in Makerspaces.  Educators can use Makerspaces “as a method for engaging learners in creative, higher-order problem-solving through design, construction, and iteration” (Adams, Freeman, Giesinger, Cummins, & Yuhnke, 2016, p. 36)  It appears that this too allows for differentiated education that is adaptable and engaging.  But as pointed out, this is emerging, it is still growing, developing, and the education field is searching out what the possibilities, and challenges will be for this set up.

Many of the other emerging technologies discussed are new territory for me, pushing me to use my imagination a bit to envision how I could incorporate these ideas into my own classroom.  Robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and wearable devices will have me learning right alongside my students in new, fun, and interesting ways.  But in my mind, this is part of the definition for emerging technologies.  The imagination of those attempting to use them and incorporate them into their lives and work will influence how they develop.  So the fact that I struggle a bit to see where this will go, is really ok.

Like any tool, these emerging technologies can be used effectively or ineffectively.  I really appreciated that our goal with these emerging technologies is to promote students as “creators rather than merely passive consumers of knowledge” (Adams et al, p. 7).  Knowing that these ideas and concepts are growing and developing right now is all the more reason for educators to jump in, try them out, and provide feedback and guidance to ensure that we continue to use these to promote engaged and active learning for our students instead of passive.


Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016).       NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2016 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Veletsianos, G. (2008, November 18). A Definition of Emerging Technologies for Education.  Retrieved from

(Picture is of my mom and me when she taught me to make pasta.  This reminded me of emerging technology because while I use my great aunt’s pasta machine my mom uses an attachment on her blender to do the same thing.  So even though it is not “new” technology, it is still changing and growing, and therefore emerging.)



This week really had me thinking about being thoughtful and conscientious about how and why I integrate technology into my classes.  Technology is woven into our society, and students need to be able to purposefully navigate the technology that they use in their lives.  Emerging technology really got me thinking about the fact that we need to teach skills that will help students use new, upcoming, and changing technology tools.  They need critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and collaboration skills.  I want to teach those anyway, I need to make sure students know how and why to apply them to technology.  And if I am in there using those skills with emerging technologies, I can have a say about how these tools are used, and how they develop.  By developing and growing my own voice, I can help students do the same.


4 thoughts on “How Do We Define Emerging Technologies?

  1. Hello Erica,

    I love the addition of the picture you included and the reflection on the emerging technology it reflects. I didn’t think about kitchen appliances as emerging technology but they definitely fit the definitions. Your writing style is much more complete than mine and I went back and added references for the works I sited after reading your blog. Thank you for the reminder of needing to give credit where credit is due.

    This is my first attempt at blogging so I hope to learn to add pictures and videos in the weeks to come.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blogs as the course and summer continues.



  2. Hi Erica! I love that you posted the picture of you and your mom! And totally…this is what emerging technology is! It doesn’t have to be fancy or hot off the market stuff, just reimagined. Love it. I also discussed the potential of technologies in my post with the idea that technology has to be unlocked in order for it to be useful.


  3. You bring up such an important struggle that I tend to have between pen/paper and technology. How much time should I invest in either one and is investing too much time on one a detriment to the other? I don’t know the answer. I try for a balance of both. We have online documents, but also a class writing notebook. I feel different pressures when I speak with different people. For example, when I am with a tech department member I feel like maybe they think I should use more tech, but when I’m in a Reading and Writing Workshop meeting, I feel that they should be writing with pen and paper more. I guess the nature of the beast is that we will never feel like we have the complete answer.


  4. Pencils and paper were new technologies at one time. The ballpoint pen was quite a controversial technology. We must keep our eyes and ears open and use what best helps our students become stronger learner. You point out that it isn’t just the new stuff that is important and useful, but how it is used that makes it emerging. Nice blog.


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