Emerging technology possibilities for educators and their students with diverse learning needs.

 

Technology is a given, not a debate.

“Technology is not technology if it was invented before you were born”

Sir Ken Robinson

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Part 1: Wearable Technology

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It is an understatement to say technology is rapidly changing. For educators and their students, there is an ever increasing array of choice and possibilities when it comes to emerging technology options. Just for starters there is the widespread use of mobile technology, a technology that has been in classrooms for over 4 years. Many students take mobile technology, such as smartphones or tablets, for granted and expect it to be part of their learning, social and media landscape. Educators are just catching up!

It is an understatement to say technology is rapidly changing. For educators and their students, there is an ever increasing array of choice and possibilities when it comes to emerging technology options. Just for starters there is the widespread use of mobile technology, a technology that has been in classrooms for over 4 years. Many students take mobile technology, such as smartphones or tablets, for granted and expect it to be part of their learning, social and media landscape. Educators are just catching up!

So what of the new and emerging technologies on the horizon, technologies that younger students will soon take for granted? The NMC Horizon Report, and the Gartner Hype Cycle, both provide a window to identifying emerging technology options. The NMC Horizon Report “identifies and describes key trends, significant challenges, and emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years in education around the globe”. The latest global report is the 2015 K-12 Edition www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition The Gartner Hype Cycle provides a “graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications”, attempting to show which technologies are on the ascendency, which are waning after an initial burst of high expectation around their usefulness, and finally which technologies have become reliable and commonly used tools   www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3114217  Of course just Google ‘new and emerging technologies in education” to find what the blogosphere is predicting http://bit.ly/1IDP5nD.

Three emerging technology options generating possibilities for students with diverse learning needs are: wearable technology, near field communication, and augmented reality. First, what of wearable technology?

Wearable Technology

While the effective adoption and use of wearable technology in our classrooms may yet be a little way off, this is a technology that has some educators excited about the possibilities.

Perhaps the best known recent wearable technology has been Google Glass, a hands free, voice-controlled ‘smartphone like technology’ mounted as eyewear. While Google Glass now appears to have come and gone, there are a number alternative smartglasses available http://www.wareable.com/headgear/the-best-smartglasses-google-glass-and-the-rest Smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, have been the other wearable technology catching the attention of educators, as discussed in the blogs Assistive Technology Apple Watch Accessibility: Possibilities, Challenges, and Unknowns, and AppleVis An In-Depth Look at Apple Watch Accessibility Features.

Wearable technology is not only appearing as smartglasses and smartwatches, but also as smart wristbands. Yes I know, it seems everyone is wearing smart fitness-tracking wristbands to monitor their exercise regimes (and colour coordinate with their outfits), but what if a smart wristband could unlock your devices, remember passwords, and more? Checkout Nymi. What if a smart wristband could read the electrical activity of your muscles and the motion of your arm to let you wirelessly control technology with hand gestures, including mapping gestures to your keyboard for customized control? Checkout the Myo.

I look forward to getting my hands, and wrists, on the Nymi and Myro to check out the possibilities for students with diverse learning needs. Both companies responsible for these smart wristbands are asking developers to see what applications they can develop to use the this technology. I hope those interested in accessibility and learning are getting on board.  Teaching is indeed a profession for which many of us wear our heart on our sleeve in ensuring we make a difference for all our students. Now it might also be a case of wearing new possibilities on our sleeve as well.

More Wearable Technology resources

Wearable Technology Pinterest boards

https://www.pinterest.com/gregoconnor/wearable-tech/

Stay tuned for Part 2: Near Field Communication

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/11458183003