Technology Trends

Cover photograph, “Kauai’i Solstice,” © 2005, Larry Johnson.

Ok so the new Horizon Report 2011 is out and it’s pretty similar to the 2010 report.  If you want to read a summary version of it then this blog is pretty good.

In my opinion the trends are all agreeable and fascinating but they are just that, a collection of trends from a variety of media sources and “experts” around the world.  Exactly how many people are using them, how many educators are using them or wish to use them to enhance their teaching and learning is still unclear.  I’m sure if we as teachers were all surveyed the responses would be much more interesting… and quantitative. Here is what my response would be:

* eBooks – awesome, but not interactive enough.  The eBook in a consumer sense has been around for a while and yes it has gained traction in the marketplace much more now that the Kindle and iPad have started to take over the world. Well so we’re lead to believe by the media.
Certainly they’re fun (yes I have one!) but I must admit I rarely touch the iBooks section except to read some of my textbooks for EdTech 501 and 502. =)

An eBook is so much more and I believe classifies any form of interactive media on a digital device that involves reading.  One of the best examples my 18mth old loves is Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy on the iPad. It will read to you, spell the words, make different barking sounds for the dogs and all in Doctor Who’s Scottish accent. He loves it! Now if every child in a Kindergarten or Year 1 class had an iPad to learn to spell and read on that would be a future classroom I’d like to be in!  But I digress…

The other form of eBooks I have been using ever since entering teaching is the pdf form of textbooks.  If a textbook didn’t come with a pdf on the CD in the back then I wasn’t very interested in it.  Our school is a laptop school where every girl has a MacBook.  They keep the textbook at home in paper form and a copy of the pdf on their laptop which they take everywhere with them.  It is easily accessible (when they don’t run out of charge!) and quite simple to take a screen shot or extract a few pdf pages to email to a student who was sick or absent for a lesson.  For the visually impaired they can zoom in and even use built-in speech tools that can read a page directly to them.  I’ve even displayed them on a projector screen to the entire class if more than one student has forgotten their laptop and needs to complete some questions.

But here’s an idea… why do they have to just be pdf copies of the text with the occasional click through to a spreadsheet or graphing package. (Obviously a maths teacher here!).  Examples could be dynamic and interactive, just like Hairy Maclary on the iPad. Imagine a Maths textbook that introduces trigonometric functions by overlaying a 3D graph on the ocean waves at your local beach. Or allows you via Google Earth to go to the Eiffel tower and estimate it’s height using right angled trigonometry, directly from the digital device.  Now that would be an eBook for learning.

* Augmented Reality – awesome, and already available in the best educational sense (eg. Starwalk for iPhone, or the equivalent Android version referenced in HR2010). We don’t need to be able to see pop-ups or twitter links when we point our phone camera at someone but it is useful to find the history of a building or the star constellation in the sky.  That type of learning is unrivalled by the WOW factor it receives. It really is about democratising knowledge, no longer do you have to be an astronomer or have multiple university degrees to know your science, you can just point your phone and read. Awesome.

What would I like to see in the future?  Text recognition so that I could write “Pythagoras’ Theorem” on the board and then look at it through my digital AR device and bubbles of information, history, questions, uses for the formula all would appear. Could you imagine students ever asking “Sir, when will I ever need to use this in life?” again, you could simply tell them to point there phone at the board/screen and take their pick.

References

Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
Cover photograph, “Kauai’i Solstice,” © 2005, Larry Johnson.

Johnson, L., Levine, A., Smith, R., & Stone, S. (2010). The 2010 Horizon Report. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy. (n.d.). . Retrieved February 14, 2011, fromhttp://www.murphsplace.com/crowe/charlie/hairy-story.html

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