Thursday, January 31

Are the robots taking over? Augment your reality, don't lose it!

When is technology helping, and when does it hinder?
How can you ensure "enthusiasm for the new" doesn't blind you to what is good right now?

I'm not sure I have any perfect answers, but I spent a very interesting hour at the trendy studios at LondonReal being interviewed by Brian and Nic, who were not educators, but wanted to understand what we are up to, and exactly how far is too far to take technology

You can catch the (visual) podcast, below, or scan down the page for a few snippets

Here is a hastily transcribed synopsis, below, to help you navigate your way through:

[6-7 mins] What's mobile learning all about?

[7.30] Thinking about touch screens. Voice control. Google glass.
- what's augmented reality all about
- where's the meaning, and sense in that, and what could you do for learning ?

[10 mins] And how soon with augmented reality be real?

[14 mins] Nic the AR cynic - "is technology swamping our humanity"?
- tech is flooding us like a wave. our choice is how to deal with it
- your mission: how to use it for good!

[16 minutes] So what should we be doing differently at school to prepare for this?
- thinking about the skills you need for future life, rather than narrow focus on a few subjects

[18:30] If you have to measure schools, maybe you should be looking 10 years down the line. How many of their graduates end up doing awesome, new jobs that weren't even invented when they were at school! That's enlightened schooling

[21 mins] Singing the praises of the MAKR / maker movement. Especially some of the cool coding tools like Rasberry Pi and Arduino.

[24:30] Nic again - "Is technology making us more stupid then?"
- all about a trade-off. Using technology to help me, but not letting it remove my humanity
- we need to learn new social skills about living with always on technology. Should you answer your phone while talking to friends?
- introducing Phone Stack - the ultimate game for phone-addicted diners!

[29:30] Ubuntu. Introducing a cool philosophy that helps keep your place in live. Your success is connected to our success, my friend!
m-Ubuntu project: Several pieces on this blog, a talk I did on it at TEDxLondon, and further info here:

[34 mins] People need people. Adding a bit of "social" into a very dispersed virtual learning environment.
- technology can help fill the gaps

[36:30] Should we all be getting cybernetic implants?
- awesome medical applications
- same story as augmented reality. It can be used for awesome good, but it is up to you to maintain your humanity!!

[39 mins] So are machines taking over? Are we becoming one with the borg?
- humans have always used tools. Technology is no different.

[43:30] Your brain is very good at tricking you. Re-writing your own personal narrative
- technology can help you understand your own narrative a little better
- you can't trust your own recollection of past events!

[46 mins] Who are the technology companies to watch?
1) the big guys, like Google, Qualcomm, HP etc (who have the weight to explore the peripheries of the mainstream)
2) the visionaries. Like Mozilla, Wikipedia, GitHub (who have a bold mission they champion)

[50:30] Has apple peaked? Has blackberry died? Who is winning the mobile mega-race?
- my thoughts? People should stop over-agonising about who is top dog. In reality it is mostly irrelevant to our lives. And often very geographically skewed

[53 mins] What about MOOCs / iTunesU? Are these important? Are they game changers?
- Are they important? Absolutely
- Are they the future? Not as they are right now, though already they are doing some meaningfully open / egalitarian things.
- the next generation of them will move from "broadcast" mode to a more empowering educational model
- Another important angle is OER (open educational resources), as well as sites that help you practice, and build skills like

[57 mins] How did you end up with your job? Are startups a good place to start?
- You really need the underpinning technology skills, but after that, the real value is in all the other disciplines that get layered on top.
- Startups are great fun, but can be abusive for young techies. If you are joining one, make sure the startup REALLY gets technology, and lets you help shape it. And that you believe in the vision.

[101 mins] Find people who inspire you. Learn from the masters. Mine were all in the tradition of Adult Learning. Empowerment. Education to make a difference. People like Paolo Friere, Seymour Papert, Desmond Tutu as well as my personal mentors (that's you Dad, and Martin!)

Final word: Technology is GREAT for education. But use it as tools to do things, don't slip into the trap of letting it DO things for you.

If your educational technology starts feeling like a sausage machine, with pre-digested knowledge being shoved into you, you are doing it wrong. Turn and run away.

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