Last year I wrote an article for the Guardian on the future of technology in education. This article focused on ‘The Cloud’ and its impact on education, whilst only briefly mentioning devices. As its now 2014, I thought it would useful to revisit this subject and take a look at some things to look out for and how they can be used to support teaching and learning over the coming years.
Schools are taking tablets very seriously at the moment and many are investing in new devices. Apple has a bit of a strangle hold in education with its iPad but with an influx of cheaper tablets more and more schools may opt for Android devices like the Tesco Hudl. Microsoft are trying to get involved with its new Surface 2, so 2014 or 2015 may see Apple losing its grip. For me, the iPad is my prefered device but it is expensive and schools need to decide how tablets will be used to support teaching and learning before they splash out. From a personal point of view Apple need to make some improvement in order to keep ahead. Not all schools want to go 1:1 and there needs to be far better ways to manage devices used across the school. Multiple profiles on devices would be fantastic as would true multitasking with apps working side by side, some operating systems are already offering this. Apple and other providers need to start talking to schools if they want us to invest money in their devices. Tablets are not always suitable for some needs, Google Chromebooks are making headway in schools as many are looking at adopting Google Apps, which is free for education use.
Wearable tech is all the rage at the moment, especially smart watches. Samsung and Sony are both getting in on the action and lets not forget the Kickstarter funded Pebble watch. Apple are also rumoured to be getting in on the action this year with their iWatch. These devices are a great way for students and teachers to be connected to their smartphones. Emails, texts, reminders about homework/assignments/lesson plans or even notifications from their social networks could all be useful in a education environment. The usefulness of these devices will all depend on how productively students and teachers are using their smartphones. The next big device in wearables is of course, Google Glass, although it has a vival on its way called iOptik which looks like an exciting product. These sorts of devices could be used to easily film and share lessons, searching the internet whilst doing something at the same time, easily taking photos/videos, using augmented reality to interact with the environment inside or outside of school or pushing resources to students devices, among other things. Students could watch educational videos anywhere and without the need of a tablet or computer. There are a lot of possibilities but will students and teachers be willing to use these sorts of glasses? Privacy is a concern, as is the problem with monitoring such devices not to mention the cost.
Virtual Reality (VR)
When people think of Virtual Reality (VR) they envision The Lawnmower Man and the 90’s. However, with the advent of products like ‘Oculus Rift’ people are really beginning to see the possibility of a product that actually work as intended. Originally designed for video games, it won’t be too long before it is adopted by others, especially when you look at the current trend of ‘gamification’. VR could bring a fantastic immersive experience into the classroom in all subjects. I love the idea of students exploring environments or historical moments in time without leaving the classroom all the time feeling like they are actually there. Combine this with motion sensors like Kinect 2.0 and you have something really special. Could VR be used by absent students or distance learning students so that they can a virtual presence in the classroom? Its sounds like something from a science fiction film but this is certainly something I would love to see. Imagine all the people that would benefit from this technology. This will not replace a traditional classroom, simply extend upon it.
Motions Sensor Devices
Another piece of gaming technology that has exciting possibilities are motion sensors like the Kinect 2.0 that comes with the new Xbox One or a stand alone device like Leap Motion. I love the idea of students and teachers being able to augment and control what they see on the board or screen. This could be 3D models of the human body all the way control to basic controls of on screen presentations. Think about how Kinect 2.0 could be used in design and technology. You only have to look at this video of Kinect and Oculus Rift from NASA to get excited about the possibilities, a powerful educational tool indeed when combine with VR. Doctors are already using it during surgery and its just a matter of time before it start to be used more in schools. Some educators are using Kinect with applications like scratch to make interactive games, whilst teaching young people how to code. With this new technology, the sensors are so powerful they can work out the heart rate of an individual or the pressure exerted on parts the body. PE, Games or Science anyone? This is another example of the gaming world crossing over into education.
The videos below were created as part of our iPad trial and were used to help support and train members of staff. They are a little old now but they are still relevant.
If you need to offer staff training at your school or ideas how iPads can be used for teaching and learning head over to www.realiselearning.co.uk.
Back in September we began an iPad trial. I have finally written my report.
If you would like me to come into your school to talk about iPads, offer training or give you some advice drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Realise Learning page.
The report includes the following sections:
- Analysis of teacher and student evaluations
- Some of my possible recommendations for the future
- Integrating iPads into teaching and learning
You can download the whole report from the link below:
You can read more about the trial below:
Firstly, I have got to say, I’m a massive fan of Adobe Photoshop and I love using it with my students. I was curious how a stripped down version would work on my iPhone 5, after all, the screen is pretty small. It has to be said, after using it, its clear that a lot of work has gone into this . I’m very impressed.
When I first opened the App I wasn’t sure what to expect or how it would compare to the iPad version. The interface is very similar, with changes only made to take into account of the screen size. From what I can see all the functionality is the same. The UI is simple and not too overwhelming, it looks clean and it is easy to navigate.
So what is it like to use…
In order to give it a proper test, I decided to try and replicate an album cover that I produced in Photoshop for school a couple of months ago. I wanted to see how it compared. You can see the original below:
As a Creative Cloud user, I was able to download the images the original cover was made from, onto my iPhone from the cloud. Easy. You can also import images from your camera, photo library or clipboard.
Cutting out the original image of Jay-Z was a bit awkward, but I was impressed with the various option available to do it. You can use the lasso tool or use your finger to trace around the parts that you want. What really blew me away was the ‘Refine Edges’ tool. Very similar to ‘big’ Photoshop. But, again, a little bit awkward because of the screen size. If I was a bit more patient and with practice I am sure it would get easier.
Once I cut Jay-Z out I then added more layers which are images from the cloud. The laters can all be arranged as you would do in the desktop version of Photoshop. You can even change the blending options of each layer. Happy days.
You can add adjust each layer by changing things like Brightness/Contrast, Saturation, Levels, Curves and many more.
And of course, Photoshop would not be the same without some image effects. The effects available are pretty good, but I am sure we will see more added in the future.
Once I had added my layers, made some adjustments my album cover was ready. I was even able to add some lens flare. I love lens flare and there are several options, even a JJ (Abrams option). There are several options for export, you can upload to creative cloud, save to Camera Roll, share in different ways or save to iTunes.
The final album cover looked pretty good, compared to the original. I found it quite difficult during the cutting out the image process and you can see it isn’t perfect. The screen size is not ideal for this sort of editing, the iPad is obviously far better for this sort of thing. I would also like to see more fonts available. However, for an iPhone App I am very impressed and really enjoyed using it. The available tools and options are amazing for a iPhone App. I would definitely recommend. It is especially good for anyone who wants to quickly mock up a design for a larger project. To be honest though, the results can be really professional.
As you can see the image created on my iPhone is impressive when you compare it to the one I created on my MacBook Pro on Photoshop CS6.
My verdict: 4 out 5
(UPDATE: Read the final report and evaluation)
We are currently running an iPad trial at school and investigating their effectiveness for teaching and learning.
In order to fully understand the impact of these devices it is important to evaluate their use.
I created two evaluations. One for students to fill out once and one for teachers to fill out. These were created in Google Forms and a short cut was added to the iPad to make it easier for students to access.
It was important to me that the evaluations were short to encourage staff and students to fill them out.
Once the evaluation period is over, I will use the evaluations to help formulate a report.
The PDF evaluations are below:
The great thing about Google Forms is that it is free, plus it gives you a great summary of results with a selection of graphs.