#4 Apple employee

If you are interested in the history of Apple Computer, you might find the TWIT Triangulation interview with Bill Fernandez. Mr Fernandez was Apple employee #4 and he provided interesting insights into the early Apple, Steve Jobs, and Apple since Steve’s death. The way Fernandez described events and issues was impressive. There were stories I had not heard before and clearly articulated thoughts on the perception and reality of Steve Jobs.

Cindy said she met Fernandez at an Apple ADE event. Her comment that in the early ADE days Apple wanted to communicate with educators, but was unclear just how to do this or what the ADEs were to accomplish. Her thought is that there was a transition from these early experiences to a selection process and mission that were more marketing oriented.

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Maybe it is about the tools – at least partially

Ed Tech types learn to make statements such as “it is not about the tools, it is about the learning”. Part of this was so we did not scare off teachers who focus on helping learners and give the impression we are wrapped up in our preoccupation with the latest technology. We learned to avoid implying that we were about “computer literacy” and began to use phrases such as “technology integration” (I take some credit for this).

I wonder if we have been too defensive. I am not proposing that we go full bore on expecting educators to always use the newest thing, but I think a good case can be made for expecting students to learn to use specific technology tools and perhaps even of greater important learn how to learn about new technologies on their own (my grad students – pay attention).

I have been reading about the history of the controversy between those advocating for work on artificial intelligence and those advocating augmented intelligence. I would describe some of my research (when I was involved in research as falling within the augmented intelligence camp).

Perhaps the new “computer literacy” is about learning the technology tools and tactics that allow the application of augmented intelligence to whatever area of endeavor we find necessary. For learners (or educators), does this argument suggest a different emphasis?

I suggest this post by Heather McGowan which makes what I think is a similar argument.

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3D Scanner

One last post from FETC.

3d printers have become popular. One of the issues for classroom applications is generating the data representing the object to be printed. The approach followed likely depends on what educators expect students to learn from the experience. A 3D scanner is likely most appropriate when the product is the goal and not the process of generating the representation that will eventually be printed.

We saw an inexpensive 3d scanner from Structure.iostructurea at FETC. The device is attached to the back of an iPad (the weird pink thing is an iPad stand and not part of the scanner). It appears you can purchase the device alone, but the sales rep suggested that you purchase a combination on an iPad with the device installed because calibration takes some time and it makes most sense to have this task completed by the company. You would then use this iPad just for 3d scanning and pass it from classroom to classroom.

Here is a quick scan the rep generated of me. It looks grestructurebat with the exception of the weird hair it attached to the top of my head (it was a quick scan). The rep tried to send me the raw file, but it did not show up. It sometimes difficult to get a good cell signal from the exhibit hall floor so I had to resort to this photo.

So, I guess there will be no printing of mini-me.

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Google photo find

I created a Google Photos account as a backup to my Flickr account, but I am discovering that Photos has some unique capabilities. I realized that it classified your photo library in various ways, but I did not know you could search for images as if you were searching for words.

I  was attending a FETC session and the search capability was demonstrated. The presenter searched for pizza. I tried the same thing.

image

I have been working with tech since the mid 80s and I still am amazed.

 

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FETC 2016 Convention Center Photo

We have been making the trip to Orlando for the Florida Educational Technology Conference for many years. Part of the reason we keep going back is the venue is perfect for a large conference. This may not sound like a big deal but conferences located in a place not capable of handling the crowd of participants can be very frustrating.

The Orange County Convention Center is a spectacular building and I always find a striking picture to post during my visit. I found something different this year. Rather than focusing on the outside of the building I caught this view coming up the escalator after registration. Obviously, there were few people around. I had to use the highest ISO setting my phone had because of the brightness of the sun roof.

fetc2016

Tomorrow I will have to begin posting some tech news from the conference.

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Coding for Sphero

Did you purchase Sphero as a Christmas present or were several Spheros made available for your classroom? Techno Rookie offers some basic ideas for coding with Sphero.

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Don’t be a wimp, be a participant

If all you do is spend time with Twitter and Facebook, you are contributing to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. Make the small expenditure necessary to purchase your own space on the web, generate a blog, and offer your expertise. Learn how to make use of RSS to locate others to learn from and with. This is the true benefit in appreciating coding and how technology works – understand the value of making independent contributions. Major services offer you an easy alternative for a reason.

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More than 140

 

Rumors has it that Twitter may move beyond the present 140 character limit.This makes a lot of sense to me and is something I have been supporting for a long time. Some of the speculation regarding the motives makes it sound like Twitter would like to encourage greater “stickiness”. Facebook would be a comparison. Folks spend great amounts of time on Facebook and do not have to follow links elsewhere to get the full message intended by a writer. Capturing attention in one place is a business move, but the opportunity provided may offer other productive consequences.

Users have attempted to apply Twitter to many different purposes, but some of these make little sense to me. I just do not see Twitter as a vehicle for meaningful discussion. It may be great for sharing links, for greetings and shout outs, but I do not see it as a useful tool for writers, readers or learners (if one assumes learning results from the generative processes of writing or reflection upon what is read). Expecting longer posts to Twitter chats would likely change the experience, but I think the changes would result in greater productivity.

As I understand the proposed modification, longer Twitter posts will be experienced pretty much like an RSS feed. One would see the first segment and then click to expand to read the rest. This would not eliminate the short Tweets, but offer a way to provide access to more. Writing in this way would take some practice, but it seems similar to the way news articles are constructed.

 

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Educational or Educational Technology Podcasts

Cindy and I listen to podcasts. We frequently travel by car and spend most of the time listening to podcasts rather than say audiobooks or music. I guess we are more likely to agree on a podcast than we are on a music genre or book.

We enjoy several podcasts from the TWIT network (This week in Google, MacBreak Weekly, Tech News Today) and a few others Upgrade. What I realize is that I have yet to find an educational podcast we can stick with. We have tried a few, but they tend to lack the substance that keeps you coming back.

I wonder why this is the case. I recognize that the TWIT network and RelayFM (Upgrade) are professionally done. The participants have great experience, devote considerable time even full time to podcasting, and have the advantage of organizations that can afford high quality production assistance. I would think educational organizations (e.g., ISTE) would have the size to provide similar services but I am guessing ISTE is mostly about their conference and may see a quality podcast as competing with the popularity of the conference. The multiple education conferences also support keynote speakers who make their money as professional presenters moving from conference to conference and probably workshop to workshop presenting one of a limited number of presentations. In contrast, podcasting is more demanding. You can’t get away with using the same content over and over again. You also must rely on ad support  rather than guaranteed fees derived from attendee admission costs. Without institutional support provided most attendees and the fees charged vendors, I wonder if the conference model would persist.

My point is that the organizations are primarily about the conference (ISTE, FETC, etc.) rather the conference being one of the services of the organization.

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Machines of loving grace

Allow me to offer a book recommendation with an explanation. The explanation is necessary because the title of the book and even the focus may not seem relevant to educators. I think the topic is very relevant.

The book is “Machines of loving grace” by John Markoff. The focus of the book is the past and future of artificial intelligence. I admit to having a thing for the history of digital technology. This is perhaps the only historical topic that interests me or that I have studied with any intensity. The historical component is only relevant to most because it reveals the trajectory and direction of the field.

The treatment of the topic is multifaceted and incorporates history, capabilities, ethics and many other components. A fundamental theme is the contrast between the visions of AI (artificial intelligence) and IA (intelligence augmentation) traced back as far as John McCarthy and Doug Engelbart. Engelbart happens to be one of my wife's heroes dating back to some interaction she had with him at an Apple conference (or some conference). Perhaps one way to contrast these perspectives is to suggest AI proposes systems that can function independently of humans (replacement) and IA proposes systems that facilitate the functioning of humans (augmentation).

No spoilers here so what does this have to do with education. I propose that the comparison of AI and IA offers a way to address the concern so many may have with instructional technology. Are the developers of ever more sophisticated instructional systems intending these systems to replace humans? If so, is the outcome inevitable or can it be headed off by decision makers? I am not claiming the author answers these questions, but the comparison to so many other fields provides a great way to examine the issues. Are we educators the cab and truck drivers of the future fighting to hold on to our jobs even though self driving vehicles are far safer and more productive? If we object, on whose behalf are we making our arguments (learners or ourselves)?

One thing about venturing out from a narrow focus on our daily focus is the “forest and trees” opportunity. The role played by technology is disrupting many fields and keeping this in mind may allow a broader perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

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