Connection Revolution

I participated in the ICC Great Technology Seminar on Sept. 21, 2012. It was a great event and an excellent chance to discuss many aspects regarding innovative uses of technology in the classroom (and beyond). There were a limited number of seats in these sessions. I thought those who could not directly participate might be interested in my session (hence this blog post).

In addition to learning a lot from other presentations, I was asked to speak on the following topics:

  • Social Media; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn
  • Blogging
  • Mobile, Handheld Devices, Tablets, eReaders, BOYD (Bring Your Own Device)
  • iPad Apps, Android Apps
  • Multi-Screen Learning

I was also asked to present this in terms of Challenges, Innovations, and Strategies (both in the classroom and other learning environments). Yep, that was a lot of material to cover in an hour and 15 minutes. I also needed to leave time for discussion.

Given that I wanted to have sufficient time for a meaningful discussion, I decided to concentrate on the “big picture” and show how these items are related. I provide a copy of my slides (for those who are interested). Obviously, we discussed a lot more once my formal presentation concluded. Unfortunately, I don’t have notes to share from that part as I was busy interacting ith many participants.

In order to better understand how all these pieces fit together, I used the term “Connection Revolution.” I firmly believe that the teaching and learning landscape is changing dramatically with the advent of many technologies (from mobile/ multi-screen devices – such as tablets, smartphones, and many other devices) to social media to cloud computing and beyond.

Although many of the participants had a deep understanding of technology and apply it in their daily lives, I wanted to discuss in light of what I view as “best of breed” approaches. I began by focusing on the need for appropriate use of available screen real estate. This implies extensive use of responsive design techniques. Pinch and zoom on a smartphone is no longer tolerated (and hinders the experience). I demonstrated our use of the Moodle Learning Management System and how it has been themed to appear on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. In my opinion, the original intent for the creation of the WWW by Tim Berners-Lee is starting to be realized. This would be to allow access to information on any device, at any time, from anywhere.

Focusing on tablet devices, I reviewed possible scenarios for use in education. I relied on the Tutorial Player app by Adobe as an example. In this case, the tutorial is viewed on the tablet while the software is running on the desktop/ laptop. Since Photoshop is a complex tool and there is limited screen real estate to see both a tutorial and work with the software, having the tutorial on a separate device helps. The fact that the tutorial on the tablet and the software on the desktop (in this case, Photoshop) communicate seamlessly is what makes this a “best of breed” example. One clicks on a link on the tutorial to “show me in Photoshop” and Photoshop opens the appropriate image or interaction. When one successfully completed that interaction, the tutorial on the tablet automatically advances to the next step. Obviously, this can be done with many other software. My point was to make everyone aware of this possibility and its implications for learning simultaneously using multiple devices.

I next focused on ideation as one of the main benefits to using a tablet. Relying on the Adobe Touch Apps as “best of breed” examples, I demonstrated Kuler, Collage, and Proto (and discussed others such as Ideas). My point was that tablet devices are more likely to be available where actual interactions occur with clients. Such applications help by showing your ideas immediately to clients and receiving meaningful feedback from those clients. This can significantly reduce non-billable hours. Since the resulting code is in the proper format for subsequent work (such as HTML5 with CSS and jQuery) for Proto, other team members can begin work much sooner. My students (aspiring web professionals) need to know how these apps are used and how they relate to the additional software. They also need to be keenly aware of the changes happening because of these devices and apps.

A common theme of many discussions during the day was on cloud computing and I also included a section on my discussion. Obviously there are many clouds. I chose to focus on the Adobe Creative Cloud (since I had spend a fair amount of time demonstrating the Adobe Touch apps). I also discussed the Kindle ecosystem (where you can read a book on one device, switch to another device and pick up immediately where you left off). Again, my emphasis was on connections.

My last major connection was to discuss social media (in its many forms) and why this is so important to teaching and learning today. Obviously these media sites facilitate relationships and sharing of information. They can (and should) be used as part of the overall teaching and learning environment. I focused on a few examples of the potential uses of Twitter in teaching and learning.

I concluded by discussing the amount of data and pace of change we are presently experiencing. For example, 1.8 zettabytes of data was generated, stored, and manipulated in 2011. If you took 32 GB iPads, you would create a stack 25 times the height of Mt. Fuji to store a comparable amount of data. If these were 16 GB iPads, one would need to build a wall of iPads 60 feet high stretching from Miami, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska. I concluded with a few random statistics (about YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter).

We then began a great discussion of the implications of the connection revolution on teaching and learning.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts and comments on these ideas. Regretfully, I need to approve all comments (be sure to thank a weblog spammer the next time you meet one). I will approve all legitimate comments (positive or negative) and look forward to them.

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