Commentary Entry: EdTech 597


I am amazed at some of the technologies that were discussed in the 2011 Horizon Report. It is almost overwhelming to know that we, teachers, will probably be using some of these technologies in the coming years. Just when you think you have mastered one form of technology, another form is introduced. At my school, we have already started phasing out textbooks. All of our textbooks are available on line. Students can log in and complete homework without the use of physical textbooks. I guess one day there will not be a need for book bags!  We also have laptop carts so students have access to laptops during the day. I can see that soon students will probably be using electronic books. Many students already have IPads and other mobile devices.

While reading the 2011 Horizon Report, the technology that I found very interesting  was the “gesture based” computing. In gesture based computing, computing is triggered by human gestures. I know that there are computer games that already use this technology, but the idea of using it in teaching is amazing.  According to the 2011 Horizon Report, examples of gesture based computing include:

•Georgia Tech University researchers who have developed gesture-based games to help deaf children learn linguistics.

•The Sixth Sense project from MIT provides a gesture interface that can be used to augment information into real world spaces.

•Wii based medical training-After discovering the significant improvement in dexterity that surgeons-in-training gained from playing with the Wii (48%), researchers are developing a set of Wii-based medical training materials.

In my school district, each classroom has a Promethean Board. I can see being able to use these boards like giant iTouch screen. The students would be able to actually manipulate objects on the screen with a touch, or a gesture. This technology would be easy for students to use, as most of them already have gesture based games such as Wii.

Some web sites to take a look at that use gesture based programs are:

Siftables: The future of play.  A gesture based play platform that has the potential for educational impact. https://www.sifteo.com/

Delicious (a social bookmarking site): Gesture-Based Computing – http://delicious.com/tag/hz10+altinput

Other gesture based technology is already in the works.  MIT researchers have developed a system that could make gestural interfaces much more practical, and inexpensive.  Aside from a standard webcam, like those found in many new computers, the system uses only a single piece of hardware: a multicolored Lycra glove that could be manufactured for about a dollar (Hardesty,Larry). This glove uses finger gestures to manipulate objects. It’s current application would be for games. However, it’s creators envision its use in other platforms.

There are numerous videos available on YouTube about gesture based computing. These are a few that I found very interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8jtplHcAYg  This video discusses the basics of gesture based computing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3garGwa63E  This video is really cool. It discusses Evoluce multi touch and touchless gesture based computing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0OAQX1ZbQs&feature=relmfu  This is a technology that couch potatoes will love. Gesture based remote control.

The implications that I can foresee with using gesture based technology in the classroom is the cost and the complexity. Schools would have to purchase the software and tools to use with the technology. Hopefully, some aspects of computing will still have to be controlled manually. For me, I would hate to see students not learn basic keyboarding skills.

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4 thoughts on “Commentary Entry: EdTech 597

  1. One important thing to remember about introducing new technologies into schools is that teachers need the training to go along with it. I have seen too many times, a school purchase expensive equipment and provide no training. Eventually, that equipment sits in a closet gathering dust.

  2. Debbie, it is amazing to glimpse into the future to see what may be coming down the pipe, but we also have to remember what the Horizon Report actually is and who are behind it. In many instances the board that puts this report together are industry-types and professionals in the field of education technology. They have some vested interest in pushing some of these things, and if you look at the history of the report – not always very accurately. For example, when the 2010 report came out, I wrote a blog entry about it and its mobile learning predictions (see Mobile Learning – Where Are We Exactly?) because they had been predicting that mobile learning would have significant impacts on education since 2006. Similarly, a few weeks later I began to question the nature of the advisory board that came up with at least the K-12 edition of the report (see Obstacles To Mobile Learning ) . If you know the players, you’ll see a lot of evangelicals for technology (many of whom fail to account for any of the real world obstacles).

    Take this gesture-based computing, the Horizon folks have predicted that it would have a significant impact on education in four to five years. In the first K-12 edition (back in 2008), the Horizon folks predicted that social operating systems and collective intelligence would have significant impacts on education in four to five years. We are approaching the 2012-13 school year (i.e., four to five years later). As a K-12 teacher, do you see either of these having any significant impact at your school? How about grassroots videos and collaboration webs, which were predicted in 2008 to be having an impact in one year or less? Have you seen these two items having a significant impact on your school over the past three school years?

    Like you, I think it is interesting to look into that crystal ball to see what might be coming next and how it might affect us personally and professionally (I’m still waiting for my Star Trek-style holodeck personally). But I think we can realistically say that, at least when it comes to this particular project, they haven’t had much of a history of having any sort of accuracy whatsoever when it comes to their timeline or the level of impact that a particular innovation will have.

  3. Lost of interesting stuff here Debbie!

    Loved your last comment about students knowing basic keyboarding. Somehow, I think keyboarding is a technology that will go out in the next decade. Voice recognition is so good right now, I think the only reason we don’t use it for everything is that it’s noisier and not as private as keyboarding. I think someone will solve those issues fairly soon, and then keyboarding will be no more…

  4. Interesting stuff! I can see where gesture based computing would be great for helping learners get the feel of an experience that is impractical, impossible, or too costly to actually have in real life. Similar to the fun of Wii, this same approach could be used to stimulate a situation for learning. For instance when studying science, gesture based computing could give children the experience of flying a plane and how changing different controls impacts the flight.

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