Technology is not just computers…

When I ask my students what are the best technologies for the classroom I always hear the same: smartboards, computers, ipads, etc. But never do I hear anything like robots. Well this christmas I got a small remote control helicopter. These small helicopters, which fit into the palm of your hand are less than $30 and are designed to be flown indoors. Not only that but while they have a remote control, they can be controlled with your mobile phone or iPad. As I was flying it, my 2 year old son was watching. I began to realize all of the things he was learning from just watching me fly it. I then started to think of all the cool things I could teach K-12 classes with something like this. There is so much involved from learning how a helicopter flies, physics, science, engineering, etc. So for less than $30, I could purchase one of these and use it in my class. What is an advantage? Well its really fun to fly. Anything that students can have fun with while learning is something I recommend. So today in my undergraduate class, I am going to begin class by flying a helicopter without saying a word to my students. Then I am going to ask them how this could be used in education. The point I am making is that when we think of technology in the classroom we need to get past the notion that it only means computers and ipads.

Here is a video of one of these helicopters:

Why are people still using CDs?

Check out this article from Mashable. Why are people using DVDs or CDs? Well its beyond me. I havent bought a CD since around 1998 and have not bought a DVD since around 2005. Its all about hard drives, the cloud, and streaming. To me disks just take up space in my office or my house and I hate clutter. This is an interesting stat from the article that just boggles my mind: Consumers bought 193 million CDs in 2012 vs. 118 million digitally downloaded albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan. If you do still love these tangible items, get ready to say goodbye because not too long from now computers will not have them.



2013 Technology Wish List

Here are the top 30 tech gadgets and technologies I am looking forward to in 2013 or hoping are finally ready for prime time:

1. Unlocked smartphones that work with 4G. Right now the Nexus 4 is a good attempt but doesnt even work with Verizon. Lets hope the Nexus X (rumored phone) is just that.

2. Xbox 720

3. No more DVDs – streaming only

4. Tablets that are as powerful as computers

5. Opensource OS (i.e. Android) becomes mainstream for all devices

6. Free cloud storage for k-16 schools

7. Opensource online classroom similar to Webex

8. Skype goes opensource

9. Google hangout changes its interface and name

10. Google drive is called google docs again

11. Online calendars sync flawlessly

12. No new call of duty game

13. A good conversion product from flash to html5

14. A good html5 development tool (ie adobe edge)

15. Apple to open up their app store or create a business app store. Right now their app store is not developer friendly towards businesses that create apps that apple just denies.

16. A robot that watches kids and does house work

17. An invisibility cloak

18. Real life Halo Armor

19. A tv that knows what I want to watch and uses voice commands to change the channel

20. My car, tv, computer, phone, and tablet all synced together

21. Spotify that works for free on wifi on ipad

22. A MMORPG and FPS combined in one to make the ultimate video game

23. Netflix or amazon prime to get all the disney movies on instant play

24. Amazon prime to work on apple tv

25. PHPBB to include good spam protection in their builds

26. Phone carriers to stop charging the cost of your phone when your contract is up.

27. A phone carrier that competes with ATT and Verizon that is just as good that lowers prices, not keeps increasing them to make more money

28. No more cable tv. Let streaming internet take over finally

29. Video conferencing that allows for holograms instead of 2d/3d people so its like the person is really there in the room

30. virtual reality from the 90s that actually works

31. accessibility plugins software for me and my friends!

Bonus – Hover boards – I have been waiting for these since Back to the Future part II

Australian university to issue 11,000 iPads next year

Some excerpts from the article:

“The University of Western Sydney said in a statement that it plans to distribute 11,000 iPads next year to every new student and member of the faculty “to support learning and teaching innovations across the curriculum and in informal learning environments.””

“The iPad initiative is part of a curriculum overhaul at UWS that will stress “flexible study options” and “a blended learning model,” The Australian reports. Traditional lectures will be augmented by a more interactive learning approach, Krause said.

“Mobile technologies will be a key part of this strategy,” she said. “We want to support our academic staff to make the most of iPads and custom-designed apps in class so that, even in the largest lecture theater, students have access to just-for-me, just-in-time interactive learning experiences.””

My thoughts:

While I am personally more inclined to use laptops over tablets because they do so much more, I think things like this can be very beneficial if implemented correctly – and that is the key. If they just buy professors and students a bunch of iPads, I would not expect much good to come out of them…at least not a large % anyway. Now if they train the professors and students how to use them, provide good resources, and support, then it could be an awesome initiative.

Software Patent Solution

Decent article here explaining the problems with patents in the tech world – Article. Now we all know patents are a problem and hindering innovation in technology, even if people find out the benefits of the online format vs traditional patent style. Maybe there are some solutions that would work for everyone? Just think about this problem when you read the following quote from the article:

“Patents threaten every software developer, and the patent wars we have long feared have broken out. Software developers and software users – which in our society, is most people – need software to be free of patents.

When Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation studied one large program (Linux, which is the kernel of the GNU/Linux operating system) in 2004, he found 283 U.S. patents that appeared to cover computing ideas implemented in the source code of that program. That same year, it was estimated that Linux was .25 percent of the whole GNU/Linux system. Multiplying 300 by 400 we get the order-of-magnitude estimate that the system as a whole was threatened by around 100,000 patents.”

Minnesota Bans MOOCs….then doesn’t

Last week the state of Minnesota banned MOOCs. Why? Apparently they have a law that states that any university trying to operate within their border must meet state standards (as in get approval to operate). This would be OK if Minnesota had some kind of quality program but my guess is that the people in charge are not even educators and that there are companies that stand to lose money if the state pushed to get MOOCs out. Here is an excerpt from the chronicle:

“The state’s Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It’s unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution:

Notice for Minnesota Users:

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.”


Apparently, facing backlash from the higher ed community, Minnesota plans to ignore the law and let these programs exist within its borders –

Now there are a lot of good issues here. First, these MOOCs are free and offer no credit….plus they are online. How could a state really police them? Should a state really be able to police what is on the internet? On one hand you have states rights and on the other you have a state telling its citizens what they can and cannot see online which brings up a whole host of issues. I would not be surprised if we see more of these types of situations in the very near future so keep your eyes peeled:)

Google Chromebook: $250 laptop

Google has created the $250 laptop. Why do I see these as important? Well when a school is choosing whether to buy tablets (iPad) for $400 vs a laptop which has more functionality for $250, they are going to be getting full computers.

Features of this computer:

    • 11.6” display
    • 0.8 inches thin and 2.5 lbs
    • Over 6.5 hours of battery
    • Boots up in less than 10 seconds
    • Dual band Wi-Fi
    • Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor (meaning processor was built for tablets not a computer)
    • 100 GB Google Drive Cloud Storage (free for 2 years) with Solid State Drive (16 GB built in)
    • Built-in dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
    • VGA Camera
    • 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
    • HDMI Port
    • Bluetooth 3.0™ Compatible
    • 2 GB Ram

Link to website with more info on the computer