PLAYBACK: Inspiration and Enchantment, The Future of Technology and Learning


"A laptop that can be used outside and charged by the power of the sun," submission from a 12-year-old participant in the study "Children's Future Requests for Computers and the Internet."

7.29.11 | Kids predict the future of technology; How historians are using digital maps; Buffy Hamilton at ISTE 2011; Victor Diaz on teaching to the whole child; and why it’s not too late to recharge with summer pd on web 2.0 tools for the classroom.

If you’re feeling the pull to get off of the computer and onto the beach in this midsummer haze, here are some things to keep you technology dreamin’.

Kids Predict the Future of Technology: Fun research from Latitude, an international research consultant group, was released last month. The study, “Children’s Future Requests for Computers and the Internet,” (pdf) asked more than 200 kids from around the world, “What would you like your computer or the internet to do that it can’t do right now?”

Meris Stansbury at eSchool News reports that some of what the kids envisioned is already in development, like Google’s revamped image search that allows users to place images in Google’s query box.

Here’s more of what the kids came up with:

  • 3D effects
  • Ability to teach/create—The internet can host classes, and computers can allow for game creation and other types of creation.
  • Intuitive interface: verbal/auditory controls, human-level responses, and an idea of the device as merely an extension of oneself.
  • No “online” and “offline” distinction—Technology is no longer something that mediates experience, but something that pervades it. For example, computers that print real food or that allow the user to touch objects on the screen.
  • Social communication functions

“For many kids, the ‘online’ versus ‘offline’ and ‘virtual’ versus ‘real’ distinctions are quickly disappearing,” Latitude’s president Steve Mushkin said. “They naturally think about a future in which traditionally ‘online’ interactions make their way into the physical world, and vice versa—a concept already playing out in augmented reality, transmedia storytelling, the Internet of Things, and other recent tech developments.”

Plus, Grownups Have Chrystal Balls Too: The smart folks at the Mozilla Foundation are not just predicting, but creating the digital tools of tomorrow.  Be wowed by this list of “10 inspiring examples of where the web is headed” posted by Matt Thompson.  If you’re feeling like Google+ is just ho-hum, these examples—from the 3D web that allows you to zoom straight into the human heart to awesome animations and data visualizations—should strike awe. And don’t forget to show them to your students.

How Futuristic Technology is Helping to Recreate the Past: And speaking of the future of new technology, some historians are already there, according to this New York Times article about how scholars are using new methods of geographic analysis to literally recreate the past.

The Times’ Patricia Cohen explains:

Advanced technology similar to Google Earth, MapQuest and the GPS systems used in millions of cars has made it possible to recreate a vanished landscape. This new generation of digital maps has given rise to an academic field known as spatial humanities. Historians, literary theorists, archaeologists and others are using Geographic Information Systems — software that displays and analyzes information related to a physical location — to re-examine real and fictional places like the villages around Salem, Mass., at the time of the witch trials; the Dust Bowl region devastated during the Great Depression; and the Eastcheap taverns where Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Prince Hal caroused.

The article, part of the Times series on “Humanties 2.0,” quotes scholars who say the humanities fields had become “too abstract” and these new digital tools allow them to see new patterns and ask and answer important questions of history, like exactly what Gen. Robert E. Lee saw when he “issued a series of fateful orders that turned the tide against the Confederate Army nearly 150 years ago.”

The full article is definitely worth a read.

Libraries, Learning & Enchantment: Educators from all over the country have been refueling at conferences over the past month or so and many are already getting ready to head back to the classroom. Thanks to the magic of technology you too can enjoy these words of wisdom even if you weren’t lucky enough to make it to Philadelphia or San Francisco.

We liked this talk on Learning and Enchantment from Buffy Hamilton (aka The Unquiet Librarian) at the ISTE 2011 conference at the end of June.  Her talk was part of a panel discussion at the “SIGMS Forum: A Dawning Era for School Librarians.” 

Hamilton, who is a high school librarian in Canton, Ga., says that as libraries face challenges from all sides about their relevancy in the 21st century, creating what she calls “enchantment” is imperative as librarians work to become change agents for 21st century learning and literary.  Enchantment, a term she borrows from author and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki,  means “sustained voluntary delight that is mutually beneficial.” Her piece about helping kids to “self-excavate” and discover their own passions they didn’t even know existed will ring true to any educator who’s allowed kids to experiment and create with technology. Slides are also available on Hamilton’s blog.

Reimagine Education: When I attended the TEDxSFED conference in April, a talk by Victor Diaz, a school administrator from Berkeley, stuck in mind the most. The conference’s theme was “mashEDup: re-imagine education” and as the founder and president of the board of the new Realm Charter School, Diaz is well poised as an expert on this topic. 

This video of this moving presentation about connecting with low-income kids whom many educators have given up on is now available. Diaz focuses on the concept of “deservedness” and approaching each child with “willingness and trust, despite their challenges and history.” He makes an excellent point about how to give kids the literal keys to their own learning. Realm is a middle and high school opening in Berkeley this fall. The school places an emphasis on technology, design learning and giving kids the support they need to develop emotional resiliency. Watch the talk here.

Plus, Earlier this week I covered S. Craig Watkins’ research on how low-income teenagers are using new technologies. Watkins says that despite being early adopters of new technologies, these students still need guidance in order to realize the technology’s full learning potential. Read my full post here.

Learn Something New This Summer: And finally, if after all that, you still need inspiration for using technology in the classroom, check out Edutopia’s summer professional development blog series. The training material is archived online. We like the New Teacher Boot Camp about how to use web 2.0 tools like Storybird and VoiceThread in your classroom.

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