Beyond mobile to technology as ‘me’



Last year I spoke to my mobile phone. I wasn’t ringing anyone, but I asked my phone a question. No answer. Last week I spoke to my phone, and it gave me some answers right there on my screen. Soon there will be no need to read an answer, and in another few decades there may not even be a question. The singularity is rising, and futurists tell us that we will be our technology, and information will be who we are or what it made us. As we watch the fast-paced changes taking place in technology, the web of data and the social connections between us, the value of information as knowledge remains the core business of librarians, teachers and info-nerds.

It starts with the mobile device in your hand and Siri is a tool that I am constantly being surprised by. Here’s why.

Siri Speaks to Me | Class Tech Tips

For Apple lovers like me the iPhone 4S was at first a mixed blessing. I was desperately in need of a new upgrade, but initially underwhelmed with the features of the 4S. (Where was the iPhone 5 I had been dreaming of?)
Siri (voice recognition software on the new iPhone operating system) has made my life easier and most importantly it has increased my productivity.
How?  In the data driven world of education that demands consistent documentation–evidence that I’m doing my job– Siri has enabled me to document student conferences and create comments to post on student work. Here’s a link that lays out everything for you.
There are, of course, a number of other tools that are being used to re-engineer our use of interactive technologies. Just two examples in daily use by educators the world over are Diigo and Evernote. These fall in the category of “oldies but goodies” these days!

Use Diigo to annotate and organize the web

In short, Diigo is an amazing tool for knowledge workers to annotate, archive and organize the web – either for yourself or in collaboration with others. And as an educator, you even get a free upgrade to a Diigo Education account with unlimited highlighting. Cha-ching!!

Diigo - highlighting and annotate the web

Evernote Blog | 10 Tips for Teachers Using Evernote – Education Series

As a teacher, my Evernote use falls into three categories:

  • Prior to class
  • During class
  • After class

Evernote for Teachers is is a great tool for teachers to capture notes, organize lesson plans, collaborate on projects, snap photos of whiteboards, and more.

But seriously, I wonder where it will actually end. Using tools FOR empowering our thinking and organisation of ideas and workflow is one thing. Using technology to BE me is quite another.

If you have followed the topic of the singularity, and the merger between humans and machines, you’ll have an idea why this news report about cyborg futures is weirdly scary.

3D printing is a mere blip on the creative horizon of Dmitry Itskov and his project. Scientists are taking tiny, incremental steps towards melding humans and machine all the time. Ray Kurzweil, the futurist and now Google’s director of engineering, argued in The Singularity Is Near, a 2005 book, that technology is advancing exponentially and that “human life will be irreversibly transformed” to the point that there will be no difference between “human and machine or between physical and virtual reality”.

This man is not a cyborg. Yet.

To change that picture, he reasons, we must change our minds, or give them a chance to “evolve,” to use one of his favourite words. Before our minds can evolve, though, we need a new paradigm of what it means to be human. That requires a transition to a world where most people aren’t consumed by the basic questions of survival.

 

Hence, avatars. They may sound like an improbable way to solve the real problems on Itskov’s laptop, or like the perfect gift for the superrich of the future. But the laws of supply and demand abide in Itskov’s utopia, and he assumes that once production of avatars is ramped up, costs will plunge. He also assumes that charities now devoted to feeding, clothing and healing the poor will focus on the goal of making and distributing affordable bodies, which in this case means machines.

 

For now, just acquiring a lifelike robotic head is a splurge. Among the highlights of the New York congress will be the unveiling of what Itskov describes as the most sophisticated mechanical head in history.

Weird, right? Check out our progress in this timeline from the same article.

On the road to avatars

Some random stops along the way to joining humans and machines.

1784: First known use of the word “avatar”, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. From Sanskrit, it refers to a Hindu deity in human form.

1924: Hans Berger begins the history of brain-computer interfaces by developing EEG, which measures electrical activity in the brain.

1958: In Sweden, Arne Larsson becomes the first person to receive a surgically implanted pacemaker.

1961: The first cochlear implant, called a bionic ear. It marks the first time a machine is able “to restore a human sense”.

1987: Max Headroom, about a fictional avatar, makes its debut on TV. In the story line, Max was created by downloading the memories of a TV reporter into a computer.

1992: Snow Crash, a Neal Stephenson novel, helps popularise avatars. “If you’re ugly,” he writes, “you can make your avatar beautiful.”

1997: Researchers at Emory University teach a stroke victim to use electrodes implanted in his brain, and sensors taped to his body, to move a cursor and spell words with his thoughts.

2003: Linden Lab starts Second Life, an online world that allows users to create avatars that can interact with other avatars.

2008: At Duke University, a monkey implanted with a brain-computer interface controls a robot on a treadmill in Japan.

2011: Dmitry Itskov starts the 2045 Initiative.

2012: At the University of Pittsburgh, a quadriplegic woman, Jan Scheuermann, eats a chocolate bar attached to a robotic arm controlled by implants in her brain.

2013: The MIT Technology Review reports that Samsung is working on a tablet computer that can be controlled by your mind.

Image: Warhol bots.

Creativity and knowledge in Science

The 46th Anniversary  of StarTrek on Saturday co-coincided with the Science Teachers Association NSW annual conference.  Perfect really!  The Google Doodles were fabulous. (Even better, there is a video of it all. If you are a fan, you will want to play it over and over again.)

I got to play with the Google Doodles while I waited to present a Keynote that used the theme of Science Fiction to talk about learning and teaching in a digital era. Science Fiction has been part of my life since primary school after being booted out of the children’s library in Albury and sent off to the ‘adult’ library – because there was nothing left for me to read!  My first book borrowed from the adult library (yes, it was a different building then) was an Isaac Asimov book -  and the rest, as they say, is history. While I never quite made it to become the astrophysicist of my dreams, nor did I pursue science at tertiary level, my personal interest (and my bookcase) shows my interest in real science and science fiction!

It’s this imaginative and expansive capacity of science fiction to relate to and extend science that I particularly wanted to draw upon. I also wanted to show how the changes taking place mean that a good science teacher must connect adroitly in social media environments, must know how to search for information effectively, and must know how to share knowledge in and beyond the classroom.

I met some fab teachers, and loved the opportunity to think
‘science’ for a day. It was great to meet up with @teachercolin, and to make some new science twitter friends too.

So one and all – Resistance is Futile!  I hope you enjoyed the presentation.

Learning without frontiers – social media and beyond

I am really enjoying participating in the ASLA National Conference in Sydney. We have had the most amazing presentations and workshops, which together show the way forward for teacher librarians keen to participate in 21st century learning and library services.

The keynote presentations will be available as a video as well as slideshare presentations, and I will post about these when they have been completed.

Today I started the day off for the crowd with some ideas and provocative thoughts to set the scene for the second full day at the conference. I really want school librarians to embrace social media, and become  builders of knowledge in new media environments by drawing on their passion and their love of culture and learning.

Ultimately we should be Learning without Frontiers!

It isn’t about learning how to use a particular digital tool.
It isn’t about social media.
It isn’t about new media, augmented reality, immersive story-telling.
It is about our ability to understand when and how we move across the everexpanding
meta-literacy environments.

Augmented Reality for Stocktake!

Move over barcode readers and fancy RFID!!

There is now an Awesome Augmented Reality App that Could Save Librarians Hours. This exciting new app uses the Android’s camera to “read” a bookshelf, and with an Augmented Reality overlay, quickly flags those books that are misplaced. It will also point to the correct place on the bookshelf so the book can easily be re-shelved correctly. It will be demonstrated at the Association of College and Research Libraries 2011 – and  may be hinting at the future of library resource organisation.

Yes, school libraries WILL have books for a long time to come! I would love to see this application in action.

via iLibrarian

Our aspirations are being augmented

This week we completed another phase of work on the Horizon Report K-12 Edition.  A couple of things caught my eye as a result, prompted by the revisions we were doing.

I remember just three years ago how we debated, and considered ‘cloud computing’.  It was a new concept in education back in 2009, and so the Time-to-Adoption Horizon was two to three years.  Pretty accurate really!

No mention of augmented reality! No mention of quite a few things that were debated this time, some of which will make it into the 2011 report.  I think this is extraordinary really, and an indication of the pace of change.

Here are the two augmented reality tidbits that I came across – one for everyday shopping experiences, and one for education.  Keep you eye on augmented reality – it really will become a way to augment our best aspirations for making learning new, innovative, and relevant to our kids!

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) is the concept of superimposing virtual content (such as graphics) on top of a view of the real world as seen through a camera. AR transforms your mobile device into what has been described as a magic looking glass where you can interact with the real world. From gaming and play to interactive media/marketing to instructional how-to/aid, augmented reality opens the door for new mobile applications and services. Commoncraft provides the quick explanation which you can share with teachers.

What is Guubes? and how can they be used in education?

Guubes is an augmented reality educational  learning aid designed for Key Stage 1 children. Roleplay, numeracy and word play games provide a real engaging experience in classrooms and at home. Guubes is a scaleable augmented reality learning aid. It can be played with at home on a laptop screen with webcam, or in school using an interactive whiteboard and webcam.

Visit Guubes to learn more.

Augmented Reality for  Shopping

While this was an advertising campaign from Tissot watches,  the potential of AR to  engages consumers, test a product and make choices is tantalising. Visit AR week to learn more.  Visit here and print your own pdf to give it a go!

I do like the smiles that the Ford’s Grand C-Max inspires. Visit AR week to learn more about this and other product

What is Augmented Reality provides a comprehensive review of developments  too. Keep up-to-date with developments at Pocket Link -  AR Week produced in association with Qualcomm.