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.

Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation

The time has come to finally put my pen down, metaphorically speaking, and take a moment to reflect – and I’m excited!

Early this year I put forward a proposal (which was accepted) to the Faculty of Education for a new degree – the result of extensive discussions, consultations, and research by my teaching partners, and in consultation with key advisers, around future directions in our academic programs.

Now in May I’ve completed in rapid fast time the extensive work required to develop the bones of a fantastic new degree.  We have it folks – a new internationally available Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) degree, commencing in 2014.

Why it matters?

Technology has significantly impacted the literature and information engagement options for learning. Students are no longer limited to learning materials available within the confines of their school, but are able to draw on almost boundless resources of multiple types and in multiple formats, on digital devices and online. They have become connected learners (Siemens, 2004) who can explore, share and create knowledge with peers in their own classroom and around the world.

Students need guidance from teachers with expertise in navigating diverse information pathways within these personal and creative learning environments, socially connected networks, and globally enriched contexts. The range of literature and information options from books to all manner of media objects, sources and devices means that students need to know how to juxtapose quality text, sound, media and social connections appropriately and in real time;  and how to filter, then mix and match what they see, hear and exchange in order to build personal knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.

We understand that educators are challenged by this 21st century participatory culture and information ecology.

Our response is our new degree for commencement in 2014 that will aim to:

  • provide a critical introduction to the concepts, principles and practices of information and knowledge networks, including systems of information discovery, organisation, dissemination and distribution in digital environments;
  • merge key elements from the two distinctive disciplines of education and information science  to leverage the affordances of digital environments for connected learning
  • use information and communication technologies to research, teach and collaborate;
  • provide detailed knowledge of, and participatory experiences in, the principles and practices of connected learning;
  • provide opportunities to explore a range of innovative learning  frameworks, including physical and virtual environments and resources;
  • develop digital scholarship facilitated by online, networked and open content,

But wait!  There is more, and in the next few months more and more information will become available about this new postgraduate option.

To learn a little more, and stay informed of new updates visit the the Facebook Page for our new degree. Here you’ll find basic subject details, essential announcements and updates about the development processes.

We are offering a global degree – for teachers anywhere in the world to engage with connected learning!

Take a peek at this short slideshare presentation with some content information.  If you like what you see, share in your workplace and with your friends.

Siemens, T N 2004, Connectivism: A learning theory for a digital age, Creative Commons, viewed 2 September 2012, http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Image: Sunday Abstract

Meet the future!

HadfieldHaving followed the tweets of Commander Chris Hadfield, remaining all the while in awe at the connections  between social media and reality (including the intersections with learning and teaching experiences),  I could only gasp at the implications of the video below that has gone viral.  Amazing.

The future is more than a Space Oddity!

The future is amazing and we need to remember that – always – in whatever field of education that we work.

Picture panic!

Back to blogging, and of course one of my ‘go to’ tools is my FlickrCC Attribution Helper.

Heart-stopping moment is over – my Greasemonkey script wasn’t working!!  Luckily all it was – I was due for an update. If you want to learn more about this really cool tool from my pal CogDog then read about GreaseMonkey and Flickr for the Adventurous.

Alan tells us more about his latest coding venture and fix (and the story behind it all) of the script Flickr CC Attribution Helper Fixed.

Check out Find Free Images Online for other image source and management ideas.

Trust me, things will never be the same!  Love your work Alan!

Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age!



Great title don’t you think?  This very title is the name of a new subject – foundation subject no less – that is in the pipeline for 2014 for the new degree that I have been immersed in developing.  As mentioned in my post a while back, I have had my head down and tail up for the last six weeks working live a navvy on scoping this new and exciting degree for next year.

Still a big secret in terms of the whole course program and content of course, because the final approval isn’t through yet.  We still have the last hurdle to face, but fingers crossed, we’ll make the grade. As it happens, the framework, subjects, electives etc are pretty much sorted, as is the focus of each subject.

It’s been a mammoth undertaking in some ways, and not so much in others. Conceptually it’s easy to pinpoint what is needed to fill the gaps in postgraduate learning opportunities to meet our professional learning needs within our networked learning environments. While there are of course many opportunities for professional development in these areas, there is also a need for academic credentialed programs that leverage deep thinking and research, and provide teachers with evidence of their passion, commitment and reasons for choosing them for innovative and/or promotions positions!

The new Australian national curriculum demands a deep understanding of connected learning, particularly if we consider the digitally connected environments that our students are working in.

So the motivation was strong to develop a degree that captured the power of networked learning, knowledge and information environments, learning spaces design, gaming, e-literature and more, in a powerful combination drawing on the disciplines of education, information technology, and information science. We took it on board to examine the key features and influences of global connectedness, information organisation, communication and participatory cultures of learning, aiming to provide the opportunity to reflect on professional practice in just such a networked learning community, and engage in peer dialogue to develop an authentic understanding of concepts and practices for learning and teaching in a digital environments.

So overall, the intention is to allow questioning, review and reconstruction of understanding, with the new subjects framing the challenges of learning in digital environments and setting the context for innovation and change in professional practice.

Everything will be thought-provoking, and will build on the knowledge that teachers bring to the course, rather than being driven by fixed content. By pushing the boundaries, knowledge networking and digital innovation will be the inspiration for this post-graduate program.

So roll on 21 May…..and if all goes well,  I will share all the details of the new degree.  If we hit any hiccups – well, what can I say?  Back to the drawing boards!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by jah~

Learning in Networks of Knowledge

For me, knowledge networks is what it’s all about!  I was honoured to speak with the staff of the State Library of NSW about the issues and drivers that we consider as we work with students in our tertiary learning environments. Learning in Networks of Knowledge was just the beginning of a bigger conversation.

Thank you to the wonderful innovation team [see my last post] for this opportunity.

23 Mobile Things everyone should know

Holiday time or not, the time is right for you all to go and investigate 23 Mobile Things – a wonderful professionally delivered opportunity to learn a few important life-skills for working and living in online environments!

The background

I’m sure most of you have heard about 23 Things for Professional Development - an open-source program for librarians. There are many variants of this course which was first developed in 2006 by Helene Blowers and the team at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County, and now the newish kid on the block is 23 Mobile Things, a course revolving around digital and mobile technologies.

Who created this course?

“The first version of 23 mobile things was developed in Danish by Jan Holmquist. This version of the course is an international collaboration, Jan Holmquist from Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne (Denmark) and Mylee Joseph and Kathryn Barwick from the State Library of New South Wales (Australia) are working together to build the English language version of the course. You’ll learn more about this excellent initiative and how you can learn more about the potential of mobile tools at 23mobilethings http://23mobilethings.net/wpress/

In Australia we have had a few derivatives of the original 23Things program, some of which charge hard cash to participate, which is not in the spirit at all of the 23Things model that was openly shared with the global community.

So it’s a real pleasure to see this latest initiative! The course is open to anyone with a tablet or smart phone. It is a self-paced learning course, with the 23 things providing a framework of resources to look at and information to consider. It can be done at anytime; there are no time-limit or deadlines for the course.

So it’s time for you to consider getting started – jump on into the self assessment survey, then head on over to investigate The Things.  Great for anyone working in libraries, and schools.  This new 23MobileThings is a fantastic initiative. Thank you.

23 Mobile Things …. the list.

  1. Twitter
  2. Taking a photo with a mobile device:  Instagram / Flickr app / Snapchat
  3. eMail on the move
  4. Maps and checking in
  5. Photos + Maps + Apps: Historypin / What was there / Sepia Town
  6. Video: YouTube and screencasts
  7. Communicate: Skype / Google Hangout
  8. Calendar
  9. QR codes
  10. Social reading: RSS / Flipboard / Feedly / Goodreads / Pocket
  11. Augmented reality: Layar
  12. Games: Angry Birds / Wordfeud
  13. Online identity: FaceBook and LinkedIn
  14. Curating: Pinterest / Scoop.it / Tumblr
  15. Adobe ID
  16. eBooks and eBook apps: Project Gutenberg / Kindle / Overdrive / Bluefire / Kobo, etc.
  17. Evernote and Zotero
  18. Productivity tools: Doodle / Remember the Milk / Hackpad / any.do /  30/30
  19. File sharing: Dropbox
  20. Music: last.fm / Spotify
  21. Voice interaction and recording
  22. eResources vendor apps
  23. Digital storytelling

Image: 23 cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by erix!