February 2012 Archives

Engagement and Wonder

The Chronicle interviewed Michael Wesch of Kansas State University, the famous (at least in my world) and inventive professor who creates engaging, learner-oriented lessons with YouTube, Twitter, Google Docs, and many other types of technology. (See his World Simulation project for just one example.)

The key theme of the article is that it is not technology that makes these lessons amazing; it is the fact that the technology helps create an environment of wonder, exploration, and connectedness. We know this already, from the literature and best practices - students who are engaged with other students and their professor are more likely to be successful (see Quality Matters among many others), students learn better when they can scaffold (Bloom's taxonomy, e.g.) and apply what they learned previously to new situations, etc. But it is an easy point to lose track of in the exciting world of tablets, simulations, and mobile learning.

Good teaching is good teaching. Technology can facilitate good teaching. Technology for technology's sake is not useful and can distract from learning.

Finally, follow Michael Wesch for inspiring uses of technology to create engaged learners.

2012 Horizon Report

The New Media Consortium's Horizon Report was released today. The Horizon Report is published every year and attempts to identify emerging technologies that will have an impact in teaching and learning. The report lists technologies in three time-to-adoption time frames.

For 2012, the Horizon Reports lists Mobile Apps and Tablet Computing as 1 year or less. Game-based Learning and Learning Analytics are 1 to 3 years out, and Gesture-Based Computing and the Internet of Things being 4 to 5 years out.

The "internet of things" concept stems from the work of Vint Cerf. He describes the "internet of things" as

"The Internet of things is on its way. The clear evidence of that, of course, is mobile to begin with, appliances that are now Internet-enabled, picture frames, refrigerators and things like that, office appliances, appliances at home. The smart grid is going to accelerate that process because more and more appliances will be part of the smart grid and its ensemble. They will be reporting their use. They will be accepting control saying, "Hey, don't run the air conditioner for the next 15 minutes, I'm in the middle of a peak load." We'll see many, many more devices on the Net than there are people [and] more sensor networks on the system, as well".

When I first heard of the Internet of Things, I thought of home appliances and consumer goods. The Horizon Report connects the concept with learning, and is well worth the read.

Beyond labs and museums, where do you see the Internet of Things impacting higher education?

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