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2011 Educators' Choice Awards: An Adobe reboot?

Make no mistake. Adobe makes great products. But, it is hard for educators and students to connect with them. First, the company produces professional-grade tools (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, etc.), and, as a result, they are very expensive for resource-starved institutions to purchase (even with discounted education pricing). Second, these professional-grade tools often come with a steep learning curve. Many education professionals do not have the time or resources to make the most of the software.

To address this second issue, Adobe is launching an initiative to reach out to educators through the Adobe Education Exchange, which is an online community (initiated by secondary-level teachers) to share, discuss, and collaborate on the development of educational resources that make use of the company’s tools. Launched just over a year ago, the exchange also connects educators with software engineers to increase the level of support in the classroom.

To promote the AEE, Adobe announced the 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards this week:

The 2011 Educators’ Choice Awards will recognize and reward Adobe Education Exchange members who submit the most innovative teaching and learning materials. Your fellow members will choose the winners of the Awards by rating one another’s work, so impress your colleagues and compete for valuable prizes by submitting your best projects, lesson plans, curricula, and tutorials. For inspiration and examples, join or sign in to browse the resources on the Adobe Education Exchange.

This is perhaps indicative of a larger, much welcomed, external relations refresh. Previously, Adobe and Apple engaged in a very public war over the fate of the Flash platform, and Adobe lost.

Adobe appears to have reconciled with the reality of a post-Flash Web, and is previewing Edge, a HTML5 development tool that promises much of the same functionality as Flash, but with less of a headache. This enables developers to make better use of standards-based toolsets, and deliver products that can interact better with native architectures. For the end user, this provides hope for speedier integration, better compatibility, and (hopefully) improved reliability. For schools that need to rely on outdated or underpowered hardware (or are using the latest, cutting-edge technology), this is welcomed news.

Adobe’s education reboot is a good sign for content-producing educators and students. The humble remake of core Flash concepts into Edge, along with AEE, suggests that the future is starting to look very bright. Stay tuned…


Note: Adobe provided a copy of their software for evaluation. A thorough review will appear in the upcoming months after field testing in academic environments. Please read our review policy for more details on how we review products and services.

Ethical cheating: Getting ahead in formal education

My frequent collaborators, Arthur Harkins and George Kubik, recently published an article on “ethical” cheating for On the Horizon. That is, “cheating” within “the context of digital-era learning that involves open-source collaboration and the ready sharing of ideas, knowledge, and information.”

In other words, we use technologies to help us get ahead in other areas of life. Why not embrace them? I prefer that my banker use a computer to help her compute my finances rather than employing long division and other “analog” approaches to doing math. Why not permit the purposive use of technologies to help students get ahead, too?

From the article:

We assert that advancements conferred by the increasing capability and availability of digital technologies are altering the definitions of scholarly literacy and scholarly practice. Three technological advancements in particular are accelerating these changes: telecommunications; networking; and digital retrieval, copying, and pasting. It is a world in which knowledge relevance overtakes knowledge fidelity as significant measures of competency and application. This is nothing less than a shift from just-in-case to just-in-time knowledge access, development, and application.

Will it blend? Social media and education

This morning, MPR’s Midmorning aired a forum on the role of social media and education. From the program’s description:

How can social media and technology influence the way students learn and the way teachers teach? Kerri Miller hosted a live forum discussion with a Minnesota-based entrepreneur who is pioneering a social teaching project called Sophia, an internet (sic) platform that aims to enhance student learning both in and out of the classroom.

I also give my two cents at 30:41 into the program:

Sophia is featured in the broadcast. To request a beta invitation, click here.

Three alternatives to temponormative pedagogy

When most people mention the word “pedagogy,” they are likely to think of it within a temponormative framework. It is a framework that embraces linear time and Cartesian thinking. This continues to be the most prevalent framework within Western educational contexts. A linear conceptualization of time ensures that the learning process has a beginning and an end, with predictable (and measurable) waypoints between. The causal linearity of the temponormative frame allows for the developmental procession of teaching and learning that is often best suited for transmitting explicit knowledge to learners.

The temponormative approach has worked well in the industrial era, but afforded the purposive use of technologies, can we break away from this old framework to one that is organic and synergetic, rather than mechanical — one that supports the creation of knowledge workers and innovators over factory automatons? Pekka Ihanainen (at HAAGA-HELIA and Ihanova) and I think we can. To start the discussion, in a paper we submitted for a special issue of time in Studia Paedagogica, we propose three alternatives to break us away from temponormative pedagogies: pointillist, cyclical, and overlapping. The following text is excerpted and adapted from the paper.

Pointillist learning

Elements for pointillist learning are masses of fragments and pieces – i.e., as used within Twitter messaging. They transmit, separately, beginnings for events, middle-points of events and endings of events in an order that may seem perceptibly vague. Among others, they comprise experiences, opinions, perceptions, comments, and “what if” scenarios.

The spontaneous nature of pointillist learning has always been a natural part of everyday human activity. When pointillist learning is examined from a pedagogical point of view, it opens itself as an anti- or a de-pedagogy. The greatest challenge for de-pedagogy is that we must trust that learning actually takes place, and that de-pedagogical learning is both valuable and significant. For pedagogical activity, de-pedagogy means that, as facilitators of learning, we have to give up our role as teachers and to start being and working as co-learners and peers within the pointillist environments we are involved.

Cyclical learning

In online forums, where participation (usually discussion) occurs within threads as a more or less dialogical activity, densification and diffusion of learning intensity are present to experience and take part in. The cyclical activity and learning is connected with an ability to observe intensive periods of online interaction and to join them. New competencies emerge in the perception of pulses from within emerging processes of thoughts, emotions, and understandings (among others). Often times, people wish to continue their explorations and re-understandings of pointillist events and contextualize the knowledge to better suit their own needs and interests. For this reason, we label this phenomena a re-pedagogy.

Overlapping learning

The above three frameworks do not necessarily exist exclusive of each other, but can coexist and overlap within simple or complex relationships. Overlapping may occur as 1) fragments within fragmentary entities; or, 2) waves within pulsating content processes. In regard to the former, for example, it recognizes the ability to move from pointillist activities to cyclical learning and vice versa. In regard to the latter, this includes an ability to construct new insights, conceptualizations, and contextual applications for knowledge given pulsating waves of cyclical, pointillistic and/or temponormative pedagogies. Overlapping pedagogies may be expressed through the overlapping uses of technologies. For example, in online education, microblogging (a pointillist activity) may be layered with intense activity within discussion forums (a cyclical activity).

Overlapping learning is knowledge building of everything/anything, everywhere/anywhere and at all times/anytime. In other words, overlapping learning is boundless in its scope and capabilities. When the learning of everything/anything, everywhere/anywhere and at all times /anytime is examined from pedagogical point of view, it can be seen as pedagogy of encoding. The overlapping education is therefore labeled en-pedagogy.

Temponormative

Pointillist

Cyclical

Overlapping

Pedagogy

Traditional

De-

Re-

En-

System

Cartesian, linear

Moments

Pulsating

Chaordic

Knowledge produced

Explicit

Personal (explicit and tacit)

Personal and social

Personal and social

Learning happens through…

Direction

Serendipity

Evolution of dialog

Convergence of direction, serendipity and evolution

Learning outcomes pre-defined

Yes

No

Sometimes

No

Examples

Lectures, readings

Microblogging, podcast

Online forums

Mashups

Our challenge

The problem is, although we are familiar with many of the technological tools that enable these pedagogies, we still view the process and the experience through the lens of temponormativity. Recognition of this framework with expanded temporal characteristics calls on us to develop new, purposive approaches that embrace and maximize the best of any configuration of de-, re-, and en-pedagogies.

Afforded the post-temponormative capabilities of online environments, how can we best leverage these multidimensional understandings of pedagogical time to facilitate multidimensional learning and meaningful new knowledge production?

Fab Lab: Build 'almost anything'

“The Fab Lab program has strong connections with the technical outreach activities of a number of partner organizations, around the emerging possibility for ordinary people to not just learn about science and engineering but actually design machines and make measurements that are relevant to improving the quality of their lives.” [MIT Center for Bits and Atoms] Moreover, each Fab Lab is connected with others around the world, sharing ideas and experiences. Every Fab Lab user is required to document how they created products so that their inventions may be replicated anywhere around the world.

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the Fab Lab at Century College in Minnesota. A Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop with an array of computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, and is the brainchild of MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld. The facility, faculty and institutional support for the initiative is amazing. Loaded with 3D printers, laser cutters, and other rapid prototyping and small-scale fabrication tools, allows uses to make “almost anything.”

My take on Fab Labs is that they provide school students and other members of the community with valuable expertise and resources to transform their creative ideas into tangible products … and, hopefully, meaningful outcomes and innovations. Since the Fab Labs blend social and fabrication technologies, I feel that school systems should consider either investing in the concept for every school, or collaborate actively with an institution that already has a Fab Lab.

Last November, I also had the privilege of visiting the Fab Lab hosted by the Waag Society in Amsterdam (the video in this link is worth watching). A couple of the key differences is that this Fab Lab is open to the public (at a cost), but is also integrated with the other services provided by the Waag Society (i.e., Creative Learning Lab, incubators) and its use is eligible for subsidization by the Dutch government through innovation grants.

An observation from my whirlwind tours of both facilities is that is the Minnesota-based Fab Lab seems to produce things that already exist, whereas the Dutch Fab Lab produces many new creations — things that have not existed yet. The question on my mind is, why is there a creativity gap? Is it a cultural phenomenon? Or, is it structural:

  • Is it because our education system is no longer producing many creatives (focusing instead on creating functionaries)?
  • Is it because the Dutch have access to a broader support system that draws creatives to the Fab Lab?

Or, is something else happening?

Noel Sharkey on the inexorable rise of robots

From Silicon.com:

In this video interview, Noel Sharkey, professor of robotics and AI at the University of Sheffield, discusses developments in robotics – from the proliferation of robots in Japan’s automotive industry to the stair-climbing dexterity of Honda’s Asimo robot and beyond.

He also discusses ethical issues, and in which countries we can find the most robots … and some implications.

Read the original article…

The Education Futures timeline of education

Education Futures celebrates its first five years of exploring new futures in human capital development with a timeline of the history of education from 1657-2045. This timeline provides not only a glimpse into modern education, but plots out a plausible future history for human capital development. The future history presented is intended to be edgy, but also as a conversation starter on futures for education and future thinking in human capital development.

As always, we invite your feedback and suggestions for further development! We expect many enhancements and updates to this resource in the near future.

Curriki: Open source education materials

Screen shot 2009-11-11 at 2.27.05 PMOpen source collaborative content holds the promise of freely distributed high-quality education materials. Developing and sustaining the community to needed to accomplish that is the difficult part.

Curriki, an online community of over 100,000 educators, learners and experts collectively developing curriculum resources freely available to anyone who wants them, seems to be meeting the challenge.

The organization behind the web community aims to produce a breadth of high quality education materials that can be globally distributed at no cost. Dr. Bobbi Kurshan, Executive Director of Curriki, believes the budget-friendly aspect of the service could fuel its growth.

“We license the materials under Creative Commons,” Kurshan explained, “so it is free to use provided you give attribution.”

By using the open source process for education, Curriki hopes to empower educational professionals to become active in the creation of “world-class” curricula. That includes lesson plans, student activities and text books.

While it is difficult to say how widely the content is being used, Curriki has been involved in several high profile endeavors both in the United States and globally.

“We’re doing quite a bit of international work, often filling the void in areas without access to text books,” said Kurshan.

Curriki was founded by Sun Microsystems in March 2004 as the Global Education & Learning Community (GELC), it was later spun off as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit to focus on developing open source curricula. The group has so far gotten by on money from foundations and grants, but Kurshan must now think about maintaining the effort long term.

“We’re interested in engaging in conversations about sustainability.”

Curriki is among the winners of the WISE Awards 2009, recognizing outstanding practice and achievements within the themes of Pluralism, Sustainability and Innovation in education. EducationFutures.com will be covering this WISE Summit through next wekk.