Sun(Fun)day Night: Lots O’ Links on the Future of Tech

Lots O Links-1

It’s another Sunday night and if you’re like me – YOU DON’T HAVE SCHOOL TOMORROW! Sorry to “shout” there, but it’s always nice to enjoy a Sunday night without the preoccupation of having to prepare to teach on Monday morning.

Rather than just offer one funny  or thought-provoking Sun(Fun)day Night link, I’m offering a whole list of them. I’ve been saving these up and now seems like as good a time as any to share them here.

Enjoy these links and take a look into the crystal ball to see the future of technology:

“Mechanical Trees Become ‘Power Plants’ When They Sway in the Breeze”

“3D Touch Opens a New Dimension of User Interaction”

“Battery Research Claims 10x Gain”

“This Samsung Patent Lets Smartwatches Recognize You by Your Veins”

“Insane Ways of Making Energy You May Not Know”

“The Mobile Phone of the Future Will Be Planted in Your Head”

“Dissolvable Devices Keep Tabs on The Brain”

“Autonomous Robots are Changing the Way We Build and Move Products Around the World”

“Hop, Skip, Drive: Uber, But For Kids”

“Scientists Can Now Predict Intelligence From Brain Activity”

“Fiction’s Newest Frontier: Literary Geocaching”

“Wearable Sensors Could Translate Sign Language Into English”

“New Foam Batteries Promise Fast Charging, Higher Capacity”

“Artificially Intelligent Software is Replacing the Textbook and Reshaping American Education”

“How Your Device Knows Your Life Through Images”

“Meet Kangaroo: A $99 Windows 10 Desktop PC as Small as a Smartphone”

“You Are Your Smartphone”

“Do Robots Need a Human-Like Sense of Touch”

“This Guy Wants Us to Commute in Autonomous On-Demand Pods” 

“Why Hearables May Be the Next Big Thing in Tech”

“Mind Controlled Robot Suits Help the Paralyzed Move Again”

“Salt-Based Batteries Could Make Your Next Mobile Device Cheaper and Greener”

“7 Unexpected Virtual Reality Use Cases”

“Microsoft’s 2016 Predictions: Expect the Year of Machine Aided Wit”

“Yahoo Labs Develops Biometric Authentication Method for Touchscreens”

“2016 Will Be the Year Wearables Disappear”

“Google Testing a Feature to Eliminate the Password”

“Future of Messaging Apps Spells the End of Google as We Know It”

“OrCam’s MyMe Wearable Will Watch and Decode the World For You”

 

 

Friday FunPost – Using Games and Virtual Reality to Teach Compassion

Empathy Games

Today’s Friday FunPost is less “ha ha” funny and more of a thoughtful, potentially inspiring type of fun. I’m chaperoning our Freshman Retreat today and in a more reflective space than on most Friday afternoons.

The other morning this word and reflection arrived in my inbox from the good brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist:

Suffering

“The prevailing reason why Jesus did what he did and said what he said was his compassion for others. Compassion, which literally means “to suffer with” another person. Compassion is not just to observe suffering, but actually entering the suffering of another.” -Br. Curtis Almquist

I shared this with my students that day as another reminder of how compassion is one of the core values essential for one who follows Jesus the Christ. We’ve been talking a lot about compassion and empathy lately in class. This essential conversation, accompanied by prayer, is a clear antidote to the widespread fear, scapegoating, nativism, racism, and generalized hostility in our social and political conversations these days.

Today I read about two tech facilitated ways to help others grow in compassion and empathy. First, Tech Crunch offers a solid overview of how Virtual Reality is expanding classroom learning in a variety of ways. After describing how VR has been and continues to be used for mainly for simulations – especially scientific and historical ones – the author suggests this creative and constructive usage:

Perhaps the most utopian application of this technology will be seen in terms of bridging cultures and fostering understanding among young students, as it will soon be possible for a third-grade class in the U.S. to participate in a virtual trip with a third-grade class in India or Mexico.

This may sound simplistic and minor, but I think it’s only a beginning of how we will soon be able to leverage VR for a wide variety of educational outcomes. We often assume that we can only use VR from our own exclusive perspective to explore myriad locations, time periods, simulations, etc. After all, everything I see with my eye-brain connection is filtered through only my own reality. The true power of VR is that it will allow me to see what the world looks like from others’ perspectives. And if the simulation is created with thoughtful skill this could engender greater empathy in me.

For example, what if the VR headset caused me to see all writing as a dyslexic person does every day? Or maybe it could show me the hallucinations and “voices” that plague a schizophrenic in his or her daily life. At the very least, it will allow us to take on the persona of someone quite different than ourselves and see, first-hand, the world through their eyes.

Even before VR becomes widely available in our classrooms, a growing genre of video games exist which allow us to experience life from a different perspective. In an article glibly titled “Video Game Psych 101:Empathy Games” we learn how:

Biofeedback video games feed off players’ physiological responses, impacting gameplay in new and interesting ways. But what happens when developers create games designed to evoke a specific emotional or psychological response?

Empathy games attempt to answer that question. These video games aspire to enhance a player’s understanding of an outside perspective, particularly those pertaining to real-world struggles and inequalities, through interactive experiences.

This genre includes the groundbreaking game from a few years ago – Dsy4ia. While this particular simulation engenders empathy towards a specific life experience, this type of game could be created to illustrate any number of situations. And, combined with the increasing power of VR, the possibilities for tech facilitated education for compassion and empathy is limited only by our imaginations.

 

Coming Attractions…Wash Your Cell Phone w/Soap & Water

Cell Phone and Water

It’s Monday and we are looking forward to the new workweek ahead. Thus, it’s a auspicious time to launch a new feature I’m calling “Coming Attractions…” The tech we have today is pretty amazing. How much of it could we imagine even three or five years ago?

To get ready for what’s coming next in the world of technology, look for this feature here at Ed Tech Emergent.

It’s the germy season and wisdom tells us to frequently wash our hands and frequently touched items. Electronics are always on those lists of The 8 Germiest Items in Your Home. Sure, you can run an alcohol wipe over your microscopically filthy remotes, keyboards, and cell phones. But wouldn’t it be nice to get those items really clean using old fashioned soap and water?

Well now you can – with your cell phone at least.

Don’t believe it? Check out this promotional video (I hope you can understand Japanese):

Stuff You Should Know – Winter 2015-2016 Predictions

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Hi, my name is Rick and I’m a weather junkie. And I’m embarrassed to say exactly how many weather apps I have on my iPad and smartphone

Yet, for your perusal and edification, here’s one of the best infographics I’ve seen which shows a prediction for this winter’s weather. I’ll try to find another one in April 2016 which shows how the winter actually was. It will surely be interesting to see.

Friday FunLink – What 2000 Looked Like From 1900

Y2K - 2

With the Chicago Cubs win a couple of nights ago, there’s been much internet chatter about how the 1989 film Back to the Future 2 predicted a World Series win (finally) by the Cubbies in 2015.

Back to the Future Cubs

We’ll have to wait a while longer to see if this prediction was remarkably prescient or another one of the missed 2015 predictions in this film. But we can enjoy this French art, created around the turn of the 20th century, illustrating how artists believed life would look in the year 2000.

All of the images are worth viewing, pondering and chuckling with. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Y2K - 4

Y2K -1

Y2K-5

 

iPads are the Worst Technology Students Will Ever Use

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Since my colleagues and I began this blog last November, I’ve read quite a few articles on educational technology.  Few have remained in my thoughts as much as the one from Te@chThought entitled “Education Technology as a Matter of Principle.”

Blogger Terry Heick reminds us that using technology to facilitate learning has always been an essential part of educational methodology.  Over time, this usage inevitably evolves from lower to higher complexity and functionality. Using chalk on a blackboard progressed to writing with dry erase markers on a whiteboards and then to using virtual “pens” on SMART boards.  Every classroom at my school has an LCD projector and Apple TV which any teacher can use with his or her iPad to project “whiteboard” apps like Explain Everything. As a result, the portable SMART boards purchased only a few years ago are obsolete.  We do still occasionally use them though, along with semi-erasable markers, as “whiteboards on wheels.”

So the question isn’t “should teachers use technology in their teaching,” but rather “which forms should be used?”  And I think a related question is: “How central to the learning process in our classroom is the use of “higher” and emerging forms of educational technology?”

The sentence which stands out for me the most is when Heick observes:

iPads are the worst technology students will ever use.

Wow. How true. And how often I am so enamored and amazed by what the iPad can do that I forget this simple fact.

Heick continues:

When today’s elementary students are 40, they’ll remember iPads the way (many of us) remember cassette tapes. It will be funny that they used to hold large, heavy glass rectangles in their hands, and had to open up apps separately. And had to know which app did what. And had to “Google” information. And sometimes weren’t even connected to the internet because WiFi signals were unreliable.

My experience confirms this.  When I was in elementary school I remember playing Oregon Trail (this version and not this revised one) on a green-screen Apple IIe.  In the late 1980’s when I was in college I typed and printed my papers on an all-in-one word processor.  People who are older than me remember before there were palm sized transistor radios.

It’s hard to imagine how outdated iPads will seem in 5 or 10 years.  While there’s no shortage of predictions about what the future of consumer technology will hold, we can’t ever predict it accurately.  When I got my first Walkman in 1985 could I possibly believe that 20 years later I’d have an iPod which held a ridiculous amount of music?

My takeaway from the inevitability of the rapid and unanticipated evolution of technology is two fold.  First – Don’t get too wedded to any one particular form of hardware or software as ‘this too shall pass.”  More importantly – I should teach my students how to learn about using technology rather than simply having them learn content via technology.

Let me share an example from my freshman class this Spring.  Recently I had my students pair up to create “social media” pages from the perspective of a character in Genesis.  I had them use the Tackk platform for this assignment.  Meanwhile, my colleague who teaches the other freshman Religion classes used Blendspace as the platform for a similar assignment.

I’m planning to assign my students a similar project to create a “social media” page for a Judge, King or Prophet.  Should I have them use Tackk again in order for them to develop their novice skills on that platform?  Or is there more learning potential in having them use Blendspace, even if their output will be of a beginning level?  Governed by the philosophy of teaching students how to learn about using technology, I think I’ll opt for the later and not former option.  Sure, there will be more of a learning curve for me as well, but I think learning how to pick up a new technology and use it effectively is a 21st century skill equal to the other ones on the typical lists of these skills.

As always, I’ll let you know how Blendspace works out for my students and me.