Augmented Education

I know that I am supposed to like this product because of its advertising—the simulacra of spontaneous discovery and multicultural cast—but I do anyway.

Here is a wonderful example of subordinating the machine to the use of actual “manipulatives” in a potentially one–to–many relationship with children. Here the machine facilitates action and interaction IRL, “in real life.” I love the simplicity of the hardware, a plastic stand, plastic–housed mirror for the front–facing camera, and plastic manipulatives; and the sophistication of the artificially intelligent classroom.

I can only hope that this would be adopted in classrooms that already have iPads in use. I give you Osmo, “play beyond the screen.”

Scholars Sound the Alert From the ‘Dark Side’ of Tech Innovation – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Drone by Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images

Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images

Given the detailed description of the event, I don’t think this was a gathering of mere Luddites. I’m glad to see The Chronicle publish this report, given that it also came out this week with a special supplement on “digital learning” that was mostly complementary. Technology is full of wonder, but what are its implications not only for academic freedom, but more importantly for learning.

Companies, colleges, and columnists gush about the utopian possibilities of technology. But digital life has a bleaker side, too. Over the weekend, a cross-disciplinary group of scholars convened here to focus attention on the lesser-noticed consequences of innovation.

Surveillance. Racism. Drones. Those were some of the issues discussed at the conference, which was called “The Dark Side of the Digital” and hosted by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee‘s Center for 21st Century Studies. (One speaker even flew a small drone as a visual aid; it hit the classroom ceiling and crashed.)

After a week of faculty backlash against online education, including the refusal of San Jose State University professors to teach a Harvard philosophy course offered via edX, the down sides of digital learning emerged as a hot topic, too.

via Scholars Sound the Alert From the ‘Dark Side’ of Tech Innovation – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

QR Codes and Digital Exclusivity? » Sociological Images

A QR, or Quick Response, code on a bulletin board of a college campus:

by Guest Bloggers Dave Paul Strohecker and David Banks, 19 hours ago at 10:43 am

Steve Grimes shared this image and some interesting thoughts about how Quick Response codes, or QR codes, can contribute to inequality. That is, QR codes such as these serve to make certain content and information “exclusive” to those who have smartphones. He states,

There is a general thinking that technology can create a level playing field (an example of this is can be seen with the popular feelings about the internet). However, technology also has a great ability to create and widen gaps of inequality.

In a practical sense the company may be looking for students who are tech savvy. Using the matrix barcode may serve that purpose. However, the ad also shows how technology can exclude individuals; primarily in this case, students without smart phones. Ironically it is especially the students who need work (“need a job”) who may not have the money to afford a smart phone to read the ad.

Grimes’ thoughts are judicious, and reveal the inherent structural difficulties in alleviating inequality.  QR codes are one form of “digital exclusivity,” the tendency of technology to re-entrench (mostly) class disparities in access to information. Though they may be able to access the information later when they have access to a computer, the person who has the smartphone is certainly living in a much more augmented world than the person without.

via QR Codes and Digital Exclusivity? » Sociological Images.

Yesterday in class I used QR codes to direct people to a link to a blog post I was discussing. Was I being “exclusive” of people who don’t have smart phones? Education is supposed to both help us learn new things and “level the playing field.” How should we both embrace technology and level the playing field in college classrooms?