Two new ubiquitous technologies for Education

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Wanted to post about two new technologies I am exploring for their ubiquitous impact on technology that I wanted to share… Both are currently being deployed, but as it is very early days, especially for Education, the ultimate uses of them in a learning context are yet to be defined.

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1. Google Glass – this falls into the current trend of ‘wearable’ technology – where a supplementary device like a watch or glasses communicate with your smartphone by bluetooth. This can be used for fitness data – or in the case of Google Glass – as an ‘in your field of vision’ interface for nearly all the main apps that an Android device would run. The best overview I have found so far is this video from early explorer David Kelly of the eLearning Guild. I have several friends with a set so will continue to monitor their opinions (which are of all perspectives from loving it to hating it).

 

2. iBeacons – this is the location-aware bluetooth technology that allows information to pop up on your smart device when you enter specific physical locations. its being used in retail to send alerts about sales to shoppers in the US, but in education it sounds perfect for libraries and museums. Basically, I envision using the set that I’ve ordered from Estimote.com to allow workshop participants who enter a physical area to receive a notification which then leads them to watch a video or view information (such as task instructions) specific to where they are – all triggered purely by them being in that space. I’m sure there will be many many other educational uses for this kind of tech also -

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Check out this quick video of what’s being done by fellow ADE Paul Hamilton here in Australia.

JNXYZ training site debuts

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Just a quick post to let readers know I have launched the beta version of a site dedicated to those who need innovative training for their staff around technology and learning. Head to JNXYZ training if I can help you in this way!

 

 

More info on my iBook about how we ‘do work’ in an post-PC, iPad world

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Hi everyone – there comes a time when every iPad using educator needs to contribute back to the communities that have fostered them. I’ve certainly had a great time doing that with Slide2learn – and for me that time has also come in the form an iBook. Its the culmination of a few years of plugging away with mobile devices and thinking that gee, not only do these look and feel different to a traditional computer, they can also do much of what a PC can, and lots more beside.

I’ve also always struggled with just how does when do ‘work’ on a smaller screen with simpler interfaces and skill requirements? The answer that many similar educators (and Kate Maccoll was the first I heard talk about) have come up with is the idea of workflows that chain a series of apps together to produce the end product.

Here’s some of what I’ve written – see if this makes sense from your experiences:

“So if the iPad is not a PC in the 1980-2010 vein, what is it? There’s a good reason why Steve Jobs chose to first demo the iPad while sitting on a lounge chair (see image at right). I myself am sitting on my couch re-watching Star Wars at 11:54pm on a device that still has 32% battery left despite being in use throughout the day by myself and my 5 year old.

This extra long battery then is one of the key factors that effect how work can be completed with an iPad, and set it apart from the need of PC’s to be tied to a more fixed location. 

Another is the simpler user interface that allows one to focus fully on each piece of work in turn. This means that instead of using a small number of powerful desktop programs that each do almost too many things as on a PC, a user employs a series of simpler apps that each do one thing well in a productive sequence. 

A third factor is the way files are managed. While a PC requires the user to firstly remember when to save files as well as where the files where stored and in what folder, iPad apps automatically save ones work within the app itself. 

Finally, the other key factor is the way touch and features like auto-sensing screen orientation create a unique experience while using the iPad (“it fits me”), something that makes it feel like the most personal of computers yet.

In listing what sets the iPad apart, I’m not suggesting that it is a replacement for all PCs, not yet. We still very much need those ‘trucks’ to deliver the computing backbone that the new era of mobile computers relies on. 

The iPad may evolve into a modular device with add-ons and docks once mobile chips catch desktop ones that can become both, but that idea also misses the point. It’s different, not wrong. And to get the most out of it when completing work, we need to ‘think different’ about how we use it.” 

Coming to grips with this is one thing – but adapting to it can be something else. That’s where the idea of workflows comes in:

Instead of thinking about doing ‘work’ as we do on a PC, lets instead take advantage of the unique characteristics of the iPad to do something different.

We’ve seen that these characteristics are the iPads long battery life, ‘fits to me’ personal nature, simpler interface, and ability to have users focus on one task at a time. When taken together, and matched with the experience of more than three years of iPad use, a new model of computing is emerging.

Across the web, and in the terminology of iPad users, this model is becoming known as ‘workflows‘ – where a chain of apps is employed to link tasks together to create the required final piece of work.”

One such example of a workflow is photography where on a PC users might use 1 or 2 programs. On an iPad one could use 5-6 apps in a seamless flow that is often faster and more powerful. So using a chain of apps like Camera – Snapseed – WowFX – Afterlight – Over – you can go from this:

to this:

Anyway, here is the official description and link – you’ll see its $1.99 – thats only really to cover the time thats gone into it - but its free if you’re ever in my corner of the world and come visit OR you can make it to Slide2learn.net 2014 in Sydney :) Hope it may prove useful.

Book Description:

“The iPad is not a PC. As obvious as that sounds, if the only computer you’ve ever used was mainly a box on a desk, or ran a desktop operating system with a physical keyboard attached, its only natural that the ways you attempt to use a new device will be dictated by the old paradigm. Instead of just sticking with such an approach, this book looks at the different ways that the PC and iPad have been designed to work, and then detail new ways that the iPad can be used for workflows, not just work“.

Download for iPad via the iBookstore or through iTunes on the desktop HERE.

My new iBook ‘The iPad is not a PC’

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Book Description:

“The iPad is not a PC. As obvious as that sounds, if the only computer you’ve ever used was mainly a box on a desk, or ran a desktop operating system with a physical keyboard attached, its only natural that the ways you attempt to use a new device will be dictated by the old paradigm. Instead of just sticking with such an approach, this book looks at the different ways that the PC and iPad have been designed to work, and then detail new ways that the iPad can be used for workflows, not just work“.

Only $1.99 to recoup development costs – I hope its ideas for maximising users investment in iPads will make it useful for a broad range of people. Enjoy :)

Download for iPad via the iBookstore or through iTunes on the desktop HERE.

 

The XO Tablet – first impressions

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Its not often one gets to brag about owning the only gadget in a whole country – but as the XO Tablet is only available from the USA, and the Australia arm of OLPC aren’t touching it, right now this is the case. Thanks to the generosity of fellow EdTech experimenters Wayan Vota and John Hunt, my 6 year old daughter has now logged about 10 hours on this latest iteration of what a ‘green machine’ can be and I’m ready to report some first impressions.

I’ll get to her thoughts shortly – but first, given the at times highly charged nature of all-things OLPC, some context. I have written for OLPC News before, am the Dad of a child in the target audience for the XO Tablet, and am a long-time OLPC supporter (with nearly 4 years of being employed by a state education department to support XO deployments). I’m also a well-known exponent of that other transformative mobile platform, the iPad, of which I’ve owned every model and even co-founded the Slide2learn.net community to support. I’ve also owned a Nexus7 Android tablet since its launch. What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t have been more excited to get an XO tablet that sits right at the convergence of all these interests.

So, first impressions: I love the green case. Its chunky and grip-able and …

- Read the whole article at OLPC News here: http://www.olpcnews.com/tablets/xo_tablet/the_xo_tablet_-_a_first_impression_in_750_words.html

 

 

 

Response to a PC-era’s review of the XO Tablet

OLPC News xo tablet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At OLPC News there are a few good articles overviewing the XO Tablet and what it means for learners and well as One Laptop per Child’s overall program. The most recent one gives a more negative view than some which is good for balance but seems to be coming from someone still thinking that PC and PostPC devices can’t both have a place.

Go here to read it.

(http://www.olpcnews.com/tablets/xo_tablet/the_xo_tablet_violates_fundame.html)

Here FYI was my response :)

Nice to see a balanced overview here thanks Edward. For my part tho – and I’ve worked with XOs for over three years, and tablets as well – the one thing (something Wayan alluded to in his articles) that has me interested in the XO Tablet is the bundled software – I don’t think anyone could seriously think that part time volunteer coders writing in Python for Sugar can now ever compete with the quality of apps available for Android and especially iOS – there is no comparison in capability. So whatever hardware design one prefers (and lets face it, cheap but decent bluetooth keyboards can be used with the XO tablet very easily – some even combine with a case) IF the software is lacking then you can do very little with them, or at least very little in comparison to what’s in the Play Store and App Store. Am I right? And isn’t a sugar port headed to the XO tablet anyways?

 

Are MOOCs the technology to break the Education Cartel?

Part 1. The obligatory history lesson:

It happened to the record industry first. While popular music had long been available on radio, it could be argued that a true music industry as we know it today didn’t arise until the 50‘s and 60‘s when distributable media and players became widely available. To summarize – you bought your music on record, then on 8-track, then on cassette, and then on CD once again. Sounds very much like a ‘cartel’, or “association of suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition”. Record companies (not artists generally) held the content and the means of distributing it to us the passive consumer.

But that’s where technology turned. CD drives in computers plus early sharing software like Napster meant that instead of getting good at mashing the pause button on your stereo so recording to cassette stopped before the adds kicked in, you could rip a whole CD to MP3 in minutes and upload it for anyone who was also connected to the net. You could also bypass the record stores entirely by downloading songs, for free. It meant you didn’t have to buy your music a fourth time in some other format – you now controlled the file. No it wasn’t legal, but it was what the people wanted.

Fast forward to 2013 and we can choose to buy tracks one at time instead of ten at a time. NOW we have Pandora, and Spotify and Rdio et al. Now Music gets pushed to me. Now I tap a thumbs up button and more great tunes keep rolling in, for free if I put up with the Pandora Ads like four times an hour.

Imagine if the streaming music app Pandora was the education system. How would that change things?

The ‘cartel’ has been broken, or at least radically forced to change its ways. Dropping DRM restrictions on music files for instance means we the customer can choose when, where and how we want to store and play our music. Funny then that last year was the first time in a decade that the music industry saw an uptick in profits – after finally signing licenses for online services that are very similar to Napster.

Now get ready to lose your job – so says Jon Evans in a recent article at TechCrunch. His argument is that nearly all industries are facing a similar shakeup as the digital revolution enters a new stage and the stuff of the world moves into silicon. He quotes Chris Dixon’s remarkable idea that just as in the previous four technological revolutions, we are at the stage where new tech is replacing traditional jobs before new digital industries that will appear have had a chance to create new ones.

For example, as information has moved online, print newspapers are failing faster than they can hit on a successful digital strategy. Indeed, Wired reported nearly a year ago that some sports journalism jobs have already been taken by software that in part takes advantage of the proliferation of easily accessible data.

Part 2. The MOOC did it: What it all means for Education

“Education is the cartel that technology is going to break next” Heppell, 2011

“Higher education is just on the edge of the crevasse … I think even five years from now these enterprises are going to be in real trouble” Clay Christensen, 2013

So what about the education system? …

 

TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE, head to EduTechDebate and join the conversation.

 

 

Smart Watches and wearable tech – the next computing frontier

Wanted to share my recent article on this topic with you all. As the miniaturisation of tech continues, there is every chance that small wearable devices like smart watches will be the next are that we as educators explore regarding how it’s mobility and ubiquitousness can enhance learning…

Read the article at Mactalk HERE.

 

 

NMC K-12 Ambassador role – UPDATE

 

 

 

Hi readers – wanted to ask for an action from you on my behalf that I think would benefit the viewership here also. I’m under consideration for an ambassador role with the New Media Consortium – producers of the brilliant Horizon Reports that we all rely upon to indicate which technologies need to be on educator’s radars.

Being an Ambassador means I can take your suggestions and contribute to a future K-12 edition of the report – so please visit Youtube HERE to view and ‘like’ my video to support my submission. You can also branch off to view the other excellent submissions from there also. My thanks.

UPDATE: And wow, with your support I have been selected! I look forward to sharing about the journey and all that it entails

Where are we at on the road to Ubiquitous Computing & uLearning? – an update

Recently I’ve re-visited the topic that was the very founding-theme of this here education and technology blog – that being, what does the dawning of a ubiquitous computing era mean for learning? These articles look at the no-longer near-future topics of ‘The Network of Things’ and ‘Perceptual Computing’. Head over to Mactalk.com.au where they are published to read both and get an idea of what the current section of the road to Everyware looks like:

-> The Network of Things

 

-> Perceptual Computing

 

Will You Mini? 1st thoughts on the new iPad by a teacher

So the much awaited entry by Apple into the smaller tablet space has now been announced. You can as usual get all the details immediately at Apple.com. It does look, just like with the iPhone5, to be an amazing feat of engineering in regards to its fit and finish etc, areas that often set Apple products apart and for which people are prepared to choose time and again.

My feeling however for schools is that the US$329 price ($369 in Australia) is too high to really trigger a mass takeup. Perhaps it will come down in price over the next couple of years, but for now – although the cameras are better, in other respects its identical to the iPad2. For iPad buyers, that leaves the smaller size as the main differentiating factor – which may be great for being out and about, and maybe for P-3 students?

I’d be very Interested in the thoughts of P-3 teachers on if they’d prefer the smaller size or the full size iPad. Also – how many would choose the mini purely to save $50 or so over the iPad2 (which I’m very surprised they kept around)? Maybe if you were buying a lot?

There is one factor however that is highly in the mini’s favour – step outside of comparing the 16gb mini and 16gb iPad2 and it becomes a different comparison. Many schools I work with I know are finding 16gb too small nowadays – so with the mini you can get a 32gb mini model for $479 when the only other iPad with that option is the full iPad at $649 – that is a major difference beyond just the size.

(Also consider however that refurbished 32gb models of the larger 3rd gen retina iPad are also selling at only US$469 [or US$379 for 16gb] now as spotted by theverge.com).

 

iPhone5 review in 26 words or less

Why would I talk about a consumer device like the iPhone here at uLearning Blog? Basically because it sets a bar each year for how much advanced computing can be squeezed into a soon to become even more ubiquitous device. Smartphones are today’s PCs and give us an idea where tomorrow’s computing may be heading.

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Review:

 

Svelte • Precise • Seriously light • Bigger + smaller at the same time i.e. Less is more • Fast • Expensive • Inherently complex but implicitly simple • Slab of the future

The Nexus 7: first thoughts for Education

So Google has now personally joined the other big PostPC device makers (Amazon, Microsoft and of course Apple) in creating a dedicated tablet device designed to serve those consumers who choose their particular operating and media eco-systems. But what will it mean for education?

I’ve already seen ICT Works comment on FaceBook that its price will be great for developing nations. As it seems to strike a better balance between being a media consumption platform and a productive #PostPC device than the Kindle Fire and Nook devices do for the same price, this may turn out to be true for education worldwide. By all reports it has better components and build quality than those devices also (important when used by kids) – and is actually available outside to more than just one country, so thats an obvious advantage right there!

It might also inspire developers to actually make some android tablet apps as currently schools really have no choice by the $399 iPad2 because why buy a device at all if there is very little you can do with it (I’m saying there is much more that teachers need than just having the basic email/notes etc apps available). It does lack a 3G internet option though (like the Microsoft Surface), an 8 or even 16gb is a little small nowadays – so where is the SD card slot that has been the subject of so much Android marketing claims up until now?

I am seriously thinking of getting one as my first Android device to learn the platform a little better for the purposes of ‘translating’ such a consumer device into the education arena – how about you educators?

https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_7_8gb

Some new info on OLPC ‘dropped by helicopter’ project

OLPC News has managed to dig up some more info via ITProPortal.com – its worth reading in terms of the wider debate about how ICT deployments should be executed, and where the balance between trusting the serendipitous nature of human curiosity and responsible planning for long term success lies…

My comment:

So they are not even XO’s? I guess the 3.0 is not available – begs the next question of what version of Android they are running – not perhaps something the villagers themselves would be concerned about I suppose.

Actually if its a motorola, it could very well be the ET1: http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/10/motorola-unveils-rugged-et1-android-tablet-for-enterprise-types/

or the Xoom 2 which is at least water resistant (but larger at 10 inches) – neither of which are low cost devices by any means.

- Actually the photo if genuine on the original ITProPortal.com site shows a 10 inch Xoom.

More to the point is the reports on the pilots progress – learning to turn it on or rote repeat alphabet may seem massive if in fact the starting point was zero – but now they know these things, what is the benefit to the village? Was an environmental impact study done first or is the only benefit to the researcher?


Kids Apps: as selected by miss 4


As tested and selected by my Miss 4 1/2 – a 3 1/2 year iOS veteran.
Nearly all of these have iPad and iPod touch/iPhone versions, and are in the free->$5 range (some also have free ‘lite’ versions you can try out).

Special mention:


Clara

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/clara/id286367870?mt=8&ls=1

This was the first app our then 9 month old used. Very simple of course, just tap the image that links to the sound being made. Ask what the name of the old iPhone that she uses is tho, and even to this day she will reply ‘Clara’ .

Her top choices (based on which apps she independently goes back to and spends the most time on):


Puppet Pals

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/puppet-pals-hd/id342076546?mt=8&ls=1

- choose characters, move them with your finger and talk – and Puppet Pals turns it all into a movie. Great for imagination and developing oral language.


My PlayHome

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/my-playhome/id439628153?mt=8&ls=1

- interact with 5 spaces in a play house – amazing level of detail and interaction possibilities.


Art Maker by Playschool

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/play-school-art-maker/id473900831?mt=8&ls=1

- free and provides great picture making options and scenes


Ansel & Clair

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ansel-clairs-adventures-in/id433593765?mt=8&ls=1

- a little more advanced, but even at age three this was a hit with lots of sections and animations to explore on a journey around Africa


Park Math or Draw and Tell, or anything by Duck Duck Moose

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/draw-tell-hd-by-duck-duck/id504752087?mt=8&ls=1

- all apps by Duck Duck Moose have great graphics and animation as well as songs and hidden interactions.


Red Writing

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/red-writing-learn-to-write/id474392775?mt=8&ls=1

- aimed at Australian kids, it includes the right school font used by each state as kids practice letter formation


Montessori Crosswords

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/montessori-crosswords-learn/id384334005?mt=8&ls=1

- allows kids to explore letters and sounds as well as to see how to use them to build words


FindThemAll

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/find-them-all-looking-for/id426394333?mt=8&ls=1

- just a simple look around and find animals with some quiz questions, but this one has proved very popular on a recent week away.


Seuss Band

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/dr.-seuss-band/id474940131?mt=8&ls=1

- Great for co-ordination and getting a sense of the fun of playing music


Talking Carl

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/talking-carl!/id417373312?mt=8&ls=1

- the original talking creature app – repeats what you say in fun and interactive ways – very good for developing oral language skills


iWrite Words

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/iwritewords-handwriting-game/id307025309?mt=8&ls=1

- a letter tracing and word making app with fun activities like tipping the device to slide the letters around


Me Books – Lady Bird Classics

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/ladybird-classic-me-books/id453238220?mt=8&ls=1

- animates old classic books and allows you to record as many animal sounds or readings of the story as you like yourself.


Monster at the end of the book

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/monster-at-end-this-book…starring/id409467802?mt=8&ls=1

- just pure fun as you drive Grover more and more crazy as the story unfolds

A little more advanced:


Pirate Treasure Hunt

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/pirate-treasure-hunt-eight/id392208108?mt=8&ls=1

- younger kids may require help as there are some great problem solving puzzles


Bartelby’s Book of Buttons volume 1 & 2

http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/bartlebys-book-buttons-vol./id384841276?mt=8&ls=1

- a step beyond Pirate Treasure hunt with an involved story and puzzles that prove a great challenge for kids when they are ready.

Also – Moms with apps is the best parent site for keeping up apps aimed at kids:
http://momswithapps.com

A ‘know-why’ guide to iBooks Author

Its well known that giving easy digital content creation tools into the hands of more teachers and students is a great way to encourage focus on higher order thinking skills in the curriculum. For schools with Macs and iPads, the release of Apple’s iBooks Author software in January made this even more possible.

Attached to this post is 1.0 draft of a ‘know-why’ guide to using iBooks Author to make digital content thats localised and personalised just for your students. Download and enjoy, plus leave comments if you have questions or feedback.

To load, just download directly onto an iPad with iBooks 2 installed, and tap ‘open in iBooks’, or download to your PC and sync via iTunes.

I’ll also attach a PDF version for those who want the info but don’t currently have access to an iPad with iBooks 2 installed.

DROPBOX DOWNLOAD LINKS: 

(If tapping to download on an iPad, please wait 1-2 mins for the download screen to appear, then several more while it downloads)

UPDATE – have taken the iBooks file link down as enough time for the feedback version to be up has passed. Will post the final one hopefully in the near future.

iBooks file link (45mb)

PDF file link (51mb)

Easy HTML5 Animations in iBooks using Tumult Hype and iBooks Author

I’m sure a whole ecosystem of support products will arise to help educators get the most out of the interactive features in iBooks Author – 3D object galleries etc. The tips below are even better in that it concerns a program that’s already out so you can start right now: