Faculty Feature Friday: Tuning in to the Future

Dr. Abbie Brown (photo courtesy ECU News Services)

Dr. Abbie Brown (photo courtesy ECU News Services)

For the past four years Dr. Abbie Brown, East Carolina University Professor and Interim Chair in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Instructional Technology Education, has been reaching students and colleagues over the streaming airwaves of his podcast. The podcast, Trends & Issues in Instructional Design, Educational Technology, & Learning Sciences, began in 2013 and is produced by Brown and his colleague Dr. Tim Green, professor of educational technology at California State University.

Brown said the idea for the podcast arose after he used Flipboard—an app used to create custom news feeds based on the user’s interests. His collection of news about trends and issues in the field of instructional design and educational technology soon gained a small following.

“I started a small Flipboard magazine for a research project assuming that I would be the only one to read it, but then a week later I had 65 subscribers,” Brown said. “I thought, this is odd.”

What Brown and Green would later discover is that there was not any collection point for news about instructional design, educational technology and learning sciences that is delivered frequently than on an annual basis. Now Trends & Issues is on its 89th episode, and has 3,000 monthly listeners on average across 121 different countries. It has even shown up as required listening on syllabi at universities around the country like Old Dominion University, Northern Kentucky University, Southern Illinois University, and more.

Trends & Issues is available on www.trendsandissues.com, iTunes, and wherever podcasts are available.

Trends & Issues is available on www.trendsandissues.com, iTunes, and wherever podcasts are available.

“There are all kinds of outlets for education in general, but when it comes to discipline-specific topics there isn’t this kind of gathering point for what’s happening,” Brown said. “There was nothing that came out this quickly and with technology there are a lot of changes that occur very quickly so we were looking for something that came out fast.”

A new episode of Trends & Issues is produced every two weeks and each episode provides a 10-minute look into popular topics that have been trending in instructional design, educational technology and learning sciences through the past two weeks.

“If we notice that a lot of people are reporting about augmented reality, then we try to pull the dominant discussions out and provide a synthesis of what other people have been going into great depth about,” Brown said. “You don’t the time do what we have been doing, so here are the key pieces and key readings, and here is what to keep an eye out for.”

One of the most recent trends Brown and Green are paying attention to is the use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, and the potential applications of those technologies in classrooms.

“Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are going to allow for more visceral experiences at a distance,” Brown said. “They are not going to replace the importance of being together, but they are going to allow people to use more of their senses when they are learning about something that may not be immediately available to them.”

For more Trends & Issues, visit www.trendsandissues.com, or find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, and wherever podcasts are available.