CROSSING THE DIVIDE: HOW GULF TERTIARY STUDENTS AND INSTRUCTORS PERCEIVE AND USE TECHNOLOGY TO SUPPORT CLASSROOM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING
This paper highlights findings from a continuing investigation of Gulf instructor and student perceptions of technology use and applications, that began in two classrooms in 2009 (Bunts-Anderson and Campo, 2010). Introduction Technology use in learning has been an area of interest for some time. Globally, people have become accustomed to rapid developments and accessibility of new technologies in business and in specialized fields. In the communication sector, individual consumers have affordable access to a variety of personal and social-networking tools. Drastic increases in media use of children and teenagers world-wide indicate that the growth in technology use in the daily lives of future students is a phenomena that should be expected and planned for by educational institutions (Daily Media Use, 2010). In the past, the cost of investing in equipment, providing technical services, developing teacher training programs and implementing new education strategies caused education sectors to lag behind the rest of the word in the adoption of these new tools. However, as these tools have become increasingly affordable, the integration of these technologies started occurring. Technology integrations emerged through innovative programs adopted by institutions, efforts of individual instructors and interestingly, by the learners themselves. Calls for educational institutions to meet these demands have become more urgent and are frequently published. Educators have argued that the developments have occurred so rapidly and have become such a part of daily life we forget that we are in the middle of a revolution in education (Bonk, 2009). As Bunts-Anderson claimed previously, “Real-time collaboration, communication, social bookmarking, presentation options and information sharing tools are being independently applied” on a global level (Bunts-Anderson & Campo, 2010 p.2). Education policy reports argue that the rapid introduction of connected teaching in classrooms needed to address these trends would require active investment from organizations and bodies that support the teaching profession (UK Department, 2007; US. Department, 2010). Recent publications such as the online papers of eLearning Papers nº 24, argue that the successful integration of these outside technologies into formal learning environments can be successful but would also require a shared perception that technologies enhance learning (2011). The information described emerged from data collected in a recent survey of 48 instructors and 437 students at a UAE university . Findings build on preliminary data described in EduLearn10 which attempted to identify what the perceptions and suggest that the surge in learners use has encouraged more reflection and integration of these tools in Gulf classrooms by instructors.