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Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee, circle-of-excellence.

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Investing Wisely in Educational Technology

Enhancing Teaching and Accelerated Learning in the Second Decade of the Twenty First Century

Dr Peter EH Smee November 2008 Basel, Switzerland.

Text original and copyright to Dr Peter EH Smee, Pictures downloaded from Google Images.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 2

In the near future, a number of technical revolutions are going to profoundly transform the nature of teaching and learning, as we enter into the second decade of the Twenty First Century... ...Such as the prevalence of inexpensive hand held computers, like those from the One Laptop Per Child initiative...

I forgot to make a back up copy of my brain, So everything I learned last semester was lost.

The aim of this document is to outline a broad range of educational technologies and technical initiatives that might be considered useful to both staff and students, engaged in both teaching and learning in a modern university level institution. In order to achieve this aim, the document that follows is divided into four main sections: Section One outlines and discusses the four key criteria by which to assess the merit of a proposed technical initiative, designed to enhance teaching or learning. Section Two uses the proposed criteria to review and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current trends in educational technology. Section Three peers into the near future and discusses how a number of imminent technical innovations are about to transform the field of educational technology. And finally, Section Four outlines the authors own thoughts on short, medium and long term initiatives that might be of interest to a university level institution.

...To be followed in a few years time, by OLED screens that unfurl and unwrap, adding functionality to even smaller pocket sized computers...embedded in your mobile phone...

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In terms of key themes, a recurrent focus for discussion within this document is the notion that: the design, implementation, rollout and maintenance of a new technical initiative needs to human centred if it is to be effective. Here the term human centred is used to underline that discussion of a new technical initiative needs to take place within the context of a broader debate over the needs and expectations of all the potential end users. What is it that end users want to achieve? What are the issues, problems and challenges that are faced by end users? To what degree can technology be used to ease the way towards future success?

A key theme throughout this document is the need for new technical innovations to be human centred in nature. End users need to be seen as more than carbon copies ...They need to be seen as individuals with a stake and a voice in the techniques and technologies being planned for them...

And...importantly... How does a technical initiative compare with the available alternatives, in terms of price, utility, desirability and kudos?

These questions are important to ask of future end-users because the history of technology is clear... ...Technical issues account for less than half of all the strengths, weaknesses, successes, problems and challenges, associated with a new educational initiative. Rather, it is issues associated with peoples beliefs, attitudes, emotions and political machinations that are more indicative of the degree to which a new technology or educational initiative will bear a return on investment. When properly engaged and enthused, the end users of a new technology or educational initiative will often find many ways to integrate the new technology within their working life - and with each new creative insight, the technology will yield and ever utility...often far beyond the expectations of the original design and development team. In contrast, where the designers and developers of a new initiative make assumptions about end users, the tendency is to create system that those users find unworkable...and that users therefore ignore...thus wasting time, effort and cash on systems that degrade morale and reduce productivity. And thus, to underline the importance of human centeredness, the pages that follow contain many examples, case studies and vignettes associated with the deployment of new technology in schools and colleges over the last few decades.

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One important implication of the notion that we need to be human centred is as follows... ...Consider any two institutions of teaching and learning, and while those two institutions may be superficially similar, they also represent a collection of very different individuals...they may therefore require very different educational technologies in order to thrive. Here it is worth recalling a vignette from the 1960s Race into Space. The US spent $20 million developing a pen that could write in orbit. The more thrifty Soviets issued all their cosmonauts pencils and paper purchased from a local store. Here we see two valid solutions to the same problem. Each designed to suit the culture and the individuals concerned - one of which cost $20 million while the other cost only a few roubles. Now: With the preceding notion of human centred-ness in mind, this document will demonstrate how the following four key criteria can be used by any institute of higher education to assess the worth of a new technology that is supposedly designed to enhance teaching or accelerate learning: (1) Budget (i.e. What will be the Return on Investment? How much money is there available to spend on technology? And, What are the wider budgetary considerations of not spending that money elsewhere?) (2) Utility (i.e. What can we expect the technology to achieve? Preferably a set of expectations that can be framed in quantitative terms, but at the very least a set of expectations that can be framed in terms that are amenable to a qualitative analysis.) (3) Desirability (i.e. When we make a new educational technology available to staff and/or students, to what extent can we expect them to be enthusiastic in using it? Again, it is helpful if we can frame our expectations in a quantitative manner and/or have a notion of the degree to which prior familiarity and the perceived utility of an educational technology will affect the numbers of early adopters).
(4) Budget

Section One discusses four key criteria by which to assess the desirability of a new technical initiative, from a human-centred perspective... Utility



Kudos (i.e. To what degree does possessing a certain technology send a signal to staff, students and external entities that the institution is forward looking and investing in the future? In an age in which institutions of Higher Education need to vie for funding, it is worth noting that a technical intuitive that adds to the reputation of an institution may help attract additional funding that would not otherwise be forthcoming.)

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After Section One is complete, an overview of the rest of this document is as follows... Section Two progresses on to consider a number of current initiatives in Educational Technology. Section Three reviews and discusses a number of new and imminent technologies that are liable to impact the way that teaching and learning is undertaken in future culture. And finally, Section Four offers a flexible outline strategy that might immediately be used as the focus for institutional debate. Now, in more detail... Section Two presents discussion with regard to: (1) items of technology that many teachers now routinely expect to find in a classroom, along with a review of the simple principles that make such core technologies usable or useless, (2) the emerging options associated with free open source software, such as LINUX, (3) notes about interactive media that can be used to support teaching and learning, (4) the intriguing opportunities associated with commonly owned consumer electronics, such as iPODS and VoIP phones, which create new educational opportunities with minimal institutional outlay, (5) the emerging options associated with low cost hardware platforms, such a web computers, which are easy to carry around and which tend to have a good battery life, (6) the costs and benefits associated with a variety of Virtual Learning Environments, (7) the potential of an Innovations Laboratory to integrate computer technology with business-oriented creative thinking techniques, in a well designed physical space, to give rise to a more enhanced teaching and learning experience, and (8) the implications of new Mind Technologies on the kinds of digital resources that will be of interest as we proceed towards 2015. Section Three then discusses a number of ways in which new technologies may impact the field of Educational Technology. Specifically, Section Three investigates: (1) the enhanced computing power of mobile phones, (2) the impact of instantly rechargeable water based batteries, (3) the trend towards WiFi, WiMax and broadband that is delivered via a mobile device, (4) the advent of OLED and eInk roll up and foldable computer screens, (5) bandwidth that makes it feasible to run applications and store data on web servers, in real time, (6) and more future Mind Technologies that may be of interest to anyone who wants to accelerate the rate at which people teach and learn... ...for example, through the development of audio presentations that can flip a students state of consciousness into a super learning mode (as measured using an EEG device).

Section Two of this document reviews existing technologies that can be used to facilitate teaching and accelerate learning...from low cost and inexpensive initiatives, such as the dissemination of free Open Source software, such as EduBuntu (top) the development of Virtual Reality CAVES (middle)...and the distribution of New Mind Technologies (bottom)...

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In the course of Section Three, this document also discusses the inevitable movement of education and training away from physical lecture halls and towards a distance learning model. To some sceptics of technology, this is a sign of that technology is driving pedagogy, with a concomitant fear that standards will slip...In contrast, to many evangelists of educational technology the utilisation of new modes of communications, combined with the power of new digital media, is set to usher in an unheralded opportunity to redefine the nature of teaching and learning ... an age of Continued Professional Development, in a society where Lifelong Learning is the norm. Being neither sceptical nor evangelistic in tone, this document attempts to weave a pragmatic path between the two extreme positions. In order to achieve this pragmatic tone, the suggestion is made that ... the best way to determine the degree to which technology can assist in the facilitation of teaching and the acceleration of learning, in a specific institution, is to notice: (1) what it is that humans already do well and (2) what it is that humans could do better by using technology, (3) what new opportunities a new technology might provide, whilst at the same time (4) what might be lost by changing the nature of the ways in which humans currently interact. For example, a colleague in the Mathematics department in a local University was recently involved in setting up a scheme by which teenage mathematics students in the UK could use VoIP telecommunication in order to receive lowcost-one-to-one home tuition by mathematics undergraduates in India. The UK is currently short of mathematics teachers ... and in contrast India has many mathematics undergraduates. The economics of using existing technology to outsource mathematics tuition to India made good sense, because there are many competent English speakers on the Indian subcontinent. Thus, while it might be ideal to have a tutor who is physically present, it can easily be argued that an internet tutorial is better than no tutorial at all. In short, we can see that new technology provides both opportunities and challenges to institutions of Higher Education. Those with a reputation can generate world-wide revenue via distance learning or via the contracting out of tuition to local teachers, who are overseen from the home base. As an example, the authors own previous intuition had more part time, distance learners, undertaking Postgraduate degrees as a form of Professional Development, than it had undergraduates. The post graduate scheme being coordinated via a virtual learning environment supplemented by a number of systems of computer mediated communication.

Sceptics fear a dumbing down of standards, as technology makes it easier to gain a qualification without having to think.

In contrast, Evangelists of educational computing view it as liberating learning from the classroom and making it practical for a new generation of lifelong learners to push the frontier in many professions, irrespective of geographical location.

While Pragmatists want to explore best practise in order to roll out new Ideas across the institutions within which they work...such as the development of an Innovations Laboratory at the University College of St Mark & St John, in Plymouth, in the UK.

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Section Four brings completion to the ideas raised in preceding sections by suggesting a number of initiative that are worthy of consideration. These include the following ideas: To institute a forum in which staff and students can feedback their perceptions with regard to the current level of technical provision. The aim of this forum being: (1) to determine the effectiveness of the current provision, (2) to determine changes that are needed in order that the institution can function more efficiently, (3) to put a monetary and human cost on suggested changes, and (4) to put a monetary and human cost on doing nothing. To undertake an analysis of the ownership and enthusiasm of staff and students towards hardware, software and gadgets which are normally associated with leisure pursuits. For example, the ownership and use of iPODS, digital cameras, digital video devices, and VoIP. This review to be followed by the establishment of one or more fora for discussion and experimentation, to explore creative ways to enrich the teaching and learning experiences. To undertake a review of free open source software and also a review of low cost shareware. Unknown to many teachers and students is the fact that the catalogue of software produced by gifted amateurs, students undertaking higher degrees, and professional academics working under government grant is huge and is worth tapping into. With a modicum of assistance, both teaching staff and students can access a large number of resources. To negotiate with commercial companies to make hardware and software available to students and staff at minimal cost, on the basis of a variety of sponsorship arrangements. To identify an appropriate set of tools, such as a Virtual Learning Environment, like FirstClass or Blackboard or Moodle, by which to support communication and interaction between staff and students and students and other students....and to ensure appropriate technical and creative support to enable such an environment to be used in creative ways. To work with appropriate colleagues to undertake a review of the potential for the institution to reach a worldwide market and to establish and/or re-enforce a worldwide reputation for excellence.

To invest in the design and construction of one or more physical spaces which embed technology within a variety of other approaches to creative thinking and innovative teaching. In effect, this would create what many commentators now refer to as an Innovations Laboratory. Such a space should be viewed as both functional and inspiring for teaching and learning, but should also be viewed as a vector for acquiring kudos and engendering networking within the local business community and with local dignitaries. For example, by inviting important business leaders and politicians to use the space for strategic planning. And by inviting leading designers and presenters to use the space to launch products and to plan new innovations.

Section Four provides a map by which you can assess your future options...

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Section One: Four Criteria by which to judge Success

Previously, we introduced four criteria by which to judge the success of a technical initiative intended to enhance teaching and/or accelerate learning. These criteria were as follows: (1) Budget (i.e. What will be the Return on Investment? How much money is there available to spend on technology? And, What are the wider budgetary considerations of not spending that money elsewhere?) (2) Utility (i.e. What can we expect the technology to achieve? Preferably a set of expectations that can be framed in quantitative terms, but at the very least framed in terms that are amenable to a qualitative analysis.) (3) Desirability (i.e. When we make a new educational technology available to staff and/or students, to what extent can we expect them to be enthusiastic in using it? Again, it is helpful if we can frame our expectations in a quantitative manner and/or have a notion of the degree to which prior familiarity and the perceived utility of an educational technology will affect the numbers of early adopters). (4) Kudos (i.e. The degree to which possessing a certain technology sends a signal to staff, students and external entities that the institution is forward looking and investing in the future? The corollary of this being that in an age that institutions of higher education need to vie for funding, a technical intuitive that adds to the reputation of an institution may help attract additional funding that would not otherwise be forthcoming.) In the pages that follow, we unpack each of the listed criteria and then provide some examples, case studies and vignettes to illustrate the successes and failures that flow from ignoring any or all of the suggested items. It quickly becomes apparent that there is nothing better than the practical experiences of others to underline the importance of keeping in mind that technology only works when it meets the needs of the humans who will use it ... and when it is delivered in a form that fits into the culture of the intuition for which it has been designed. The worth of practical experience over theoretical planning cannot be overemphasised.

MONEY: Im sure there are better ways to disguise sensitive information, but we dont have a big budget.

UTILITY: See? If you get close enough to the screen, a 15 monitor looks just as big as a 20 screen.

DESIRABILITY: Our palm top computer is available many options, including the nose top printers, scanner hat and 100MB removable storage socks.

KUDOS: I want my resume to be the one that you remember. Its also available as a music video, interpretive dance and haiku.

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Although it may sound like an exercise in stating the obvious ... it is important to note that broader budgetary constraints always need to be taken into account, whenever discussing a new educational initiative, designed to deliver a technology that can be used to enhance teaching or accelerate learning. One particular issue to consider is whether the institution is getting value for money. It is easy to find many ways to spend large amounts of money on hardware and software. But the question is whether that money is liable to bring an effective return on investment. As a case in point, in the late 1990s, one of the authors undergraduate students undertook a survey of the purchasing strategies in place in a number of schools in the UK. In a typical bureaucratic manner, the government of that day had allocated a specific amount of money to be spent on educational technologies, within a specific window of time. However, in the closing years of the Twentieth Century, few UK schools had IT specialist staff ... and so purchasing decisions worth many tens of thousands of pounds were often being made by barely computer literate personnel, who only had a vague idea of the possibilities and pitfalls involved. Hence many decisions were made that were less than wise. The point being made here is the need for qualified and insightful staff to look at the cost of new technology in broad terms. In particular, analysts need to identify what it is that staff and students would like a new technology to achieve ... and then decide what that achievement is worth to the institution, in terms of human and monetary costs. It then becomes easier to view expenditure in terms of being an investment; or even in terms of yielding a saving. And it also becomes easier to decline to invest in an initiative that will not yield a suitable return. For example, a UK university recently advertised that it would give each new student a new laptop. This was a very popular idea and produced a huge flurry of additional applications. The problem was that the universitys marketing unit demanded that the new computers be loaded with Microsoft Vista, but the budget was not made available to ensure that the machines could cope with the new operating system. Thus, a machine that could have run very fast, running Windows XP, had insufficient memory and so Windows Vista. ran very, very slow. As a result, new students became frustrated and the computers became the butt of many jokes. Indeed, many people just stopped bringing the computers to class. And neither staff nor students could therefore integrate the technology into their teaching or their learning. And all because there was a lack of clarity with regard the broader budgetary and technical issues associated with the initiative.

Technology can do very many wonderful things. For example, new virtual reality CAVES provide tools for modelling the world around us in many new and exciting ways.

But unless an institution has access to limitless funds, two questions always need to be addressed...what will we gain by adopting the technology? And, is that gain worth what will be lost by not being able to spend money on other, non technical initiatives? ...Such as more one-to-one tutorials by human mentors.

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When we think about the utility of an educational initiative, we are primarily thinking about what the technology that we purchase will enable us to do. Any assessment of the utility of a proposed educational technology requires those who specify that technology to understand the potential end user....for the utility of a new technology is as much about how people think and behave as it is about what the technology can theotically deliver. It also requires that those who specify the purchase of a new educational technology be insightful...preferably with a crystal ball that can peer into the future. With regard to understanding the potential end user... There is a joke that appears in many computer magazines that 80% of users only ever use 20% of the functionality of a modern software application. This is because many modern applications have been over engineered. So while users keep on buying up-to-date, applications, because those applications are well advertised, in effect they might find more utility by making use of free downloads. A classic example of this phenomenon is the competition between Microsoft Office and the free open source office application, Open Office. During the change over from the old versions of Office to Office 2007, large numbers of users became functionally illiterate with regard the new application, which is severely confusing to a naive user. A significant proportion of these individuals then began to read reviews of the free alternative, called Open Office, which ironically is modelled on older versions of Microsoft Office ...making migration easy. The result was that Microsoft lost many potential customers to the free system. The lessons here are two-fold: (1) when it comes to utility, unless a computer user is a power user, they probably just want to be able to access the few basic facilities that they need to complete their work ... and they would prefer not to be confused by an over-engineered interface, (2) if you give people what you think they want...instead of what they believe that they need...they will ignore you. Consider the following vignette... In discussing the use of interactive whiteboards with colleagues in a UK university, it became evident that the huge investment in computer-driven white boards in every teaching room had gone awry. The computers controlling the interactive white boards had been poorly configured. As a result, no one really knew how to get the cursor to work with the interactive pen. And so both staff and students distrusted the computers to work on demand. They therefore tended to bring in their own personal laptops or to use over head slides or pen based white boards!

Good analysts ask prospective users what they want...and do not make assumptions...a case in point being the Apple iPOD and the Apple iPhone which utilise a user interface that has led both devices to dominate their market.

...Poor analysts make assumptions and create hardware and software that gets left on the shelf...or simply results in functions that are rarely used...a case in point being the difficulty many people have programming old style video recorders. In the 1980s and 1990s, the author knew may people who never mastered the timer buttons on the VCRs.

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As a second example of the need to measure what you are attempting to achieve with a new educational system... and of the need to provide measurable criteria by which a new initiative can be assessed...consider the impact of the British Government automated tests for computer literacy amongst trainee teachers, used in the UK over the last few years. The tests sound like they would be a good way to standardise the quality of computer literacy amongst prospective teachers. Trainee teachers arrive at a test station, which consists of a desktop computer connected to a web-based server. Thus the computer based test enables the standardised mass testing of trainee teachers for relatively little outlay in terms of time and money. All of which is a laudable intention. However, a key problem with the tests was that their impact on the teaching and learning of computer literacy was never properly considered. Until recently, the quality of a web based simulation of a desktop computer product was so far below the actual utility of the real application that the designers of the test system had to omit many common ways of accessing commands in Microsoft Word, Excel and Access. So the test did not and could not be programmed to give a realistic test of the actual application that the students would use in real life. Thus, in a valiant attempt to mimic a desktop application, initial tests of computer literacy tended to be keystroke based, which of course is not how anyone with a mouse tends to interact with an office application. And if this were not bad enough, even worse, the shift towards a dependence on key board based input, in exams, had a knock on effect. Many IT tutors found they had insufficient time to teach computer literacy skills. Thus, they began to alter the content of their lessons to maximise the pass rate in the exam. As a result, the existing mouse-based training materials for Microsoft products were scrapped and new keyboard based materials written. Thus, the adoption of a limited form of testing had a wholly unforeseen impact on the curriculum, and arguably led to poorer computer literacy amongst teachers. Rather than ensuring the computer literacy of a generation of trainee teachers, the test has actually driven the wholesale alteration in the syllabus, away from computer skills that are intuitive and easy to learn, towards the kind of keyboard based computing that was characteristic of the days of MS DOS in the early 1980s.

The impact of a new technology can never be wholly anticipated. In as far as is possible, designers, analysts and planners need to make use of a wide variety of predictive techniques in order to maximise opportunities and minimise negativities. They need a modern version of a crystal ball, such as, Soft Systems Analysis or Scenario Planning, as devised by Shell Strategic Planning

. As an example of an unforeseen impact of a new technology...the original SMS texting services were initially devised by mobile phone engineers as a test process...and only included on the final product as an afterthought...yet unexpectedly...SMS texting quickly became more popular than voice messaging, once mobile phones were introduced into the market rise to a market that mobile phone operators had not anticipated.

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As an example of an ideal way to implement a human centred approach to the specification, design and planning of a new educational technology, consider the following story... For several years, the author shared an office with a senior member of computing staff, who was responsible for the roll out of large college wide systems of Educational Technology. For example, two university-wide Virtual Learning Environments, one based on the server technology Blackboard and the other on the server technology FirstClass. The manager was successful because he would begin by getting together with key stakeholders (potential users), both in group fora and also in one to one meetings. In each of these venues, he would paint a verbal picture of what he believed the technology could do for potential users. The verbal picture would consist of a narrative or story that was tailored to each user group, in the language of that group, and with minimal technical jargon. The manager then invited discussion. Having facilitated a consensus with regard an overall set of aims and objectives, the manager would then spend time generating a set of more specific criteria for success... and also reviewing the technology within the context of the abilities and attitudes of those who were expected to use it. He would also spend time identifying a group of enthused colleagues who might act as early adopters and who would be pleased to contribute to testing and experimenting with the new technology. Thus... ...By the time the technology became widely available within the institution, many of the teething problems had been resolved, and more often than not, the manager would have many concrete examples of how the new technology was already helping and assisting in making teaching and learning easier for both staff and students. This provided yet more easy-to-understand stories that would help sell the new system to a wider body of staff and students. In addition, the manager would have also noted unforeseen side effects of the technology and mitigated the impact of those effects. Finally, by encouraging and working with the early adopters and with people who were intrigued by the potential of the new computer systems, the manager generated a cluster of advocates. These advocates were invaluable in helping the manager to overcome inertia and even opposition from techno-sceptics, who distrusted that the technology was needed, and who also disagreed that the technology was worth the price being paid. And thus, by being human centred in focus the manager was able to head off any political and cultural opposition to the new systems and processes being introduced to the institution.

A huge part of the human brain is setup to understand the world through the filter of stories and narrative. Thus, the importance of a story and a clear narrative cannot be over emphasised when discussing an impending new technology with potential end users. The majority of people are not technophiles and so a few apposite stories of good practise in other institutions can be very powerful in communicating what a system can do.

Early adopters of a new technology add enthusiasm to a project ... and are also invaluable as ambassadors who can help overcome political and cultural inertia. Importantly, early adopters also help a new initiative by identifying possibilities and pitfalls prior to a final institution wide roll out...

Shuhhh Zog...Here comes one now.


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In the 1990s, the author spoke with a number of training managers from a variety of large companies. In those discussions, many trainers spoke of multimedia presentations that cost thousands of pounds to create, but which were disliked by trainees ... and therefore rarely used. They were therefore consigned to a dusty shelf, giving rise to the nomenclature of shelf ware for a badly designed product. One problem was that the designers of many of the training systems had not taken the time to find out the needs, desires, abilities and attitudes of the humans for whom the systems were to be authored. Thus no one wanted to use them. When considering desirability, in the field of technology, there is the notion of the killer-app. In general terms, a killer app is a technology that is so attractive and desirable that people change their work and life habits in order to embrace it. Reasons for this may be that the new technology is: (1) so much fun to use, or (2) so effective in saving time and money, or (3) enables users to do things that would otherwise be impossible, or (4) a combination of one to three, inclusive. Of course, desirability has much in common with usability and so here it is best to begin this section by reiterating comments made previously: When designing and rolling out a new technology, it is vital to take into account the needs of potential users and to generate a set of specific aims and intentions for the project. But of course, desirability also goes beyond a list of basic needs... A good systems analyst will also find out about the expectations, attitudes and behaviours of potential future end users. A good place to start is to follow the example of a group of professionals known as cool hunters and to review the technologies that people use out of order to understand what it is about those technologies that attracts that they can then build aspects of that desirability into future educational systems. For example... If an educationalist discovers that staff and/ or students: (1) are attracted to authoring digital video and uploading that video to YouTube, (2) enjoy taking digital photos, (3) like to spend time playing computer games, (4) possess mobile phones, (5) often speak to friends via Skype and (6) play music on MP3 players and iPods .... then with a little creative thought a large number of educational initiatives become very little cost to the institution...and yet with potential educational spinoff.

The fashion, advertising and games industries employ Cool Hunters to find out what will sell and what people will be motivated to buy. Cool Hunters work with designers and planners in order to make a new product or service irresistible.

Ultimately, the usability of a technology is embedded within a lot of cultural values, all of which go beyond whether the technology is good in the sense of utility. For example, in the 1980s, VHS video won out over Betamax, even though Betamax was the superior system.

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For instance: As we will discuss in later pages, there is a huge scope for delivering audio and video material via podcasting to mobile computers, mobile phones and iPods. And as the technology for embedding subliminal messages within ambient sound increases, it will become ever easier to embed aspects of coursework within music and sound tracks that a student might listen to out of enjoyment, irrespective of the need to learn. Commercial computer games can be adapted to many subjects. There are also many educational games that can be purchased off the shelf, in a wide number of subjects. These can act as either a simulation in which theoretical knowledge is applied ... or as a talking point in face to face tutorials and seminars. Modern mobile phones have more computing power than was available in the 1960s to get a man to the moon...and their power and adaptability increases every year. As more and more phones gain access to web enabled technologies, the utility of mobile phones as a medium for teaching and learning increases exponentially. All it takes is some creativity and some imagination. New and emerging digital art forms can be utilised as a method of learning, providing a basis for both formative and summative coursework submissions. For example, students might be asked to generate a digital video in which they create a short documentary or training video explaining a subject in which they need to show competence. A variety of communications technologies can be adapted from the home and into a teaching-learning context. For example, Skype and social networking sites can be utilised to stream lectures over the web, to connect tutors with students and to also connect students to one another in study groups.

Podcasting provides a technology by which to stream lectures via the web.

Digital forms of art provide students with multiple means of expression. For example, research indicates that some, such as mind mapping, may well be better ways to test for understanding than is a standard essay. Below, we see a mind map generated by a Graphic Facilitator to summarise a business meeting.

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Budget, utility and desirability are all useful foci for discussion, when critiquing a new educational intuitive. But sometimes kudos needs to be the deciding factor. As mentioned repeatedly in the last few pages, only a half of the success or failure of a new technology has to do with the technical aspects of the implementation and roll out. The other half has to do with human attitudes and behaviour. Or to put it another way, the perceptions of those who use the technology...and the perceptions of those who talk to those who use the technology... The modern university has to compete for students and also has to compete for research funding. It is therefore true to say that the perception of the brand and of what the institution stands for is very important. It has a price value. Just as one would not walk into a major corporate office and expect to see a dowdy desk, so the mangers of an educational institution need to bear in mind that their investment in new technology says something about the university and what it stands for. The authors own view is that by making economical usage of free and low cost hardware and software and by making use of technologies that students already possess, such as mobile phones, an institution can do a lot to enhance both teaching and accelerate learning, with minimal outlay... ..Then, having initiated a few effective low cost educational strategies, a larger budget becomes available to pay for more costly prestige-driven projects, such as: (1) a well resourced Virtual Learning Environment, (2) virtual reality CAVES, (3) a commercial grade Innovations Laboratory and (4) conference suits that contain 3D modelling and 3D video systems. In the authors experience, gained while designing and marketing the first Innovations Laboratory in the South West of the UK, entrepreneurs, business managers, government officials, designers, architects and engineers all love the kinds of facilities just mentioned...and they believe that those facilities are useful enough to be willing to pay a high price to use them. Thus an institution willing to outlay seed money to invest in the construction of the kinds of high profile facilities, listed above, can attract commercial users who then subsidise the educational use of the technology. As a social spin off from such a strategy, university staff gain the opportunity to network with influential individuals, for the mutual benefit of staff, students, as well as to the benefit of both the institution and the visiting commercial client.

High cost educational initiatives, such as Virtual Reality CAVES, 3D visualisation suites and Innovations Laboratories are the kind of prestigious technologies that indicate an institution is at the leading edge of educational technology, and which attract interest and both direct and indirect funding from potential sponsors. Below are two 3D visualisation systems from Fake Space.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 16

Section Two The current State of the Art

In the pages that follow, we discuss the following ways in which technology is currently being used to enhance teaching and accelerate learning. Of course a full summary would in itself be book length in itself, and so the reader should consider the following list of items as illustrative, rather than exhaustive: The emerging options associated with free open source software, such as LINUX, Items of technology that many teachers now routinely expect to find in a classroom, such as computer projector and interactive white board. And how, with a little outlay, the utility of these can be vastly enhanced. Items of technology now routinely used in schools and colleges to facilitate administrative tasks, from roll call, to student monitoring to testing, to marking and providing feedback on both summative and formative submissions of work. Intriguing opportunities associated with commonly owned consumer electronics, such as iPods and VoIP telecommunications, which utilise technologies that everyone possesses to enrich the teaching and learning environment with minimal financial outlay, Emerging options associated with low cost hardware platforms, such a web machines, which are easy to carry around and which tend to have a good battery life, The costs and benefits associated with a variety of Virtual Learning Environments, The integration of technology with creative thinking techniques and innovative approaches to learning, in a well designed physical space, called an Innovations Laboratory, which is designed to give rise to a more enhanced teaching and learning experience.

There arent any icons to click. Its a chalk board.

The implications of new Mind Technologies on the kinds of digital resources that will be of interest as we proceed towards 2015. And of course, as we discuss each of these educational technologies, we make repeated reference back to the four criteria by which to judge to desirability of each of the technologies that we discuss, and we keep in mind a human centred critique of each technology, so that the attractiveness of each may be assessed...

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 17

Free and Open Source Software

The community of Open Source Software authors is now extensive and the motivations varied. But the underlying message is the same, whoever the developer...the software is free at the point of use. Sometimes the software is designed and implemented as part of a Masters degree or a PhD. Sometimes the software is produced under grant to a government and then entered in a database of free educational resources. Sometimes the developer is a knowledgeable and gifted amateur who simply produces software for his or her own use, and then makes it available to others. Sometimes there is a commercial motivation, such as one company supporting the development of free software that undermines the competitiveness of a rival, such as the free software for programming dot net applications and the free office software Open Office. And sometimes free software is offered as a loss leader, such as the current policy of Microsoft to make cut down versions of its .NET development languages available to students. But the important point to note here is that, whatever one thinks of the current state of Free and Open Source software, the tendency is for Open Source applications to develop and evolve at an exponential rate. And because the software is free, as each new sub variant of the software is stabilised, it is released...for free....for end users to install. For example, the author uses Paint.Net as his default imagine editing software. Paint.Net can sense each time a new version is available and can download and install the update, for free, and in a matter of seconds. Given that the application is already more powerful than many commercial graphics packages, including some that are relatively expensive, it makes no sense to use anything else, unless one is a specialist designer. The degree to which Free and Open Source software is mature enough for use by the average computer user, is now evidenced by the fact that the free operating system, Linux, is now deployed on may low cost hand held PCs, purchasable in shops. Linux runs much faster than the expensive operating systems Windows XP and Windows Vista ... and is thus creating an expanding market of users. Those users applaud the way in which the operating system comes with a huge number of free applications, and with software to keep all those applications up to date, with relatively little intervention by the end user. Given an Open Source specialist technician in a university, a lot can be done to reduce the cost of software that is used by both staff and students.

Free software, such as Open Office and Paint.Net, is now becoming mature enough to distribute to users with a low level of computer literacy. Also worth distributing are a number of free limited demonstration pieces of software, which are more than powerful enough for anyone whose needs are general in nature. Below are screen shots from the Open Office text editor, draw package and slide show. Also below are screenshots from Paint.Net.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 18

Classroom Technologies
There are a number of items of technology that many teachers now routinely expect to find in a classroom, such as a computer, a digital projector and an interactive white board. But now consider that with a little additional outlay, the utility of these items of technology can be vastly enhanced. The first outlay is for students and staff to have access to some basic training tailored to their personal need. With regard training and support, we return to the notion that educational initiatives need to be human centred. The author has witnessed many failures of technology, due to lack of support. It is really true that the majority of people want to plug in a technology and for it to work...they do not want to have to learn half a dozen work-arounds for when it does not. Neither do they want to have to prepare one lesson that uses the technology and another lesson, just in case the technology fails to work!...which is often the case. This is just not helpful. As an example of how a simple five minute training item can cause end users to adjust their perceptions... In a recent series of training sessions, the author discovered that not one member of staff that he trained had been taught that Microsoft PowerPoint possesses an embedded feature than enables a tutor to scribble with an interactive pen. Thus no one realised that they could have been using PowerPoint as a medium for creating templates that might then be filled in by students, via pen input in a classroom. And with regard to students making use of the interactive whiteboard in a class...there are now WiFi and network solutions that enable a student to access the main screen in the classroom, at the click of a button...or for a tutor to access a students screen and display what is there. Two examples of these technologies being: (1), the network software NetOPs and (2) the wireless dongle Presto. And with regard the usage of laptops in a classroom, such usage could be easily increased if each tutor is able to give students access to a universal external battery that can be placed under each laptop, such as those from MaxPower. There is then a reduced need (and tendency) for students to try to string electrical cables around a room, with little or no awareness of the laws relating to Health and Safety. Thus, by using simple and inexpensive plug in batteries, student laptops can become a truly useful and dependable resource.

By attaching a WiFi receiver to a projector, students can access the main interactive display.

NETops gives tutors an ability to find out what students are doing on their laptops, during class time.

External batteries from MaxPower, enable complete wireless freedom.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 19

Admin Technologies
There are now a number of items of technology that are routinely used in schools and colleges to facilitate administrative tasks, from roll call, to student monitoring, to testing, to marking and providing feedback on both summative and formative submissions of work. Useful examples include: The use of swipe card to indicate presence at an event. This makes it easy for a college administration to track those students who are attending face to face sessions. If such a system is linked with tutors perceptions of student participation, which itself might be generated via a student undertaking online tests for comprehension and memorisation, then non attending students can be identified and counselled with relative ease. If a tutor has wired or WiFi access to a database of students, in which student details can be accessed and also edited, then those tutors can more easily be aware if a problem is developing with a student. And be aware of whether the problem is with regard one module, or is more generalised between all the students modules. Having worked in a modular scheme in which a college administration had very little concept of what a student was doing and where they should be doing it, the author can attest to the utility of a system that provides timely and up to date information. Even a system that provides a list of names and photographs is useful to a tutor who wants to make a personal impact on a group of students that they meet only a few times in a semester. Programs, like NetOPs provide tutors with an ability to remotely monitor and control computers that are logged onto a network. If students are undertaking a technical task, then an investment in an application like NetOPs is invaluable as it means that students and tutors can communicate ... and the tutor can assist, with relative ease. As an amusing anecdote, a colleague was demonstrating NetOPs to the author and found a student playing an internet game...she then took control of the students computer and opened Word, and wrote the student a humorous note to concentrate more fully in future. In terms of automating the level of participation of a student, there are many Virtual Learning Environments which can provide logs which indicate which students have logged onto which resources and for what amount of time. Finally, there are applications that can make it easy to copy and paste banks of comments into feedback related to assignments. This reduces marking time, whist at the same time providing students with a transparent set of marks and a clear and extensive set of accompanying suggestions for the future.

A growing number of schools use swipe cards to track attendance in class.

When staff have to address large numbers of students, it is helpful to have access to a database of names and photographs, if one wants to address students by name.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 20

Consumer Technologies
As mentioned on previous pages, there are a number of intriguing opportunities associated with commonly owned consumer electronics, such as iPods, digital cameras and VoIP telecommunications. These opportunities are intriguing because they utilise technologies that many people already possess. Hence the skill base for using the technologies is extensive ... and because the technologies are often associated with leisure time pursuits, both staff and students are also more intrinsically motivated to experiment with the hardware and software that is available. Of the many possibilities currently on offer, the one that is of most interest to the author is the use of iPods and other MP3 players to deploy a variety of sophisticated presentations that utilise Hemisync audio and subliminal messaging to alter a listeners of mind. Many people now possess iPods, or MP3 players or mobile phones with MP3 capabilities. Indeed, many new generation mobile phones can receive an audio stream via a wireless web link. This means that sophisticated audio based resources are now easy for students to access, wherever they might be. Hemisync audio utilises embedded audio sounds that flip a listener into a specific state of consciousness, such as a relaxed super learning state, while subliminal messaging can be used to insert information direct into the subconscious brain, where it is most easily retained. For example, there are now language learning audio presentations which embed learning vocabulary within an audio presentation that sounds like ocean surf. The intent is for the student to play the audio as ambient sound and to have the vocabulary embedded at the same time. Moving from audio to video, it is easy to conceive of tutors requesting that students produce and submit a variety of presentations, utilising a variety of media. For example, in a practical subject, such as Sport Science or Chemistry, students might produce video evidence of their competence, or produce video instructional segments, in which they can be seen teaching what they have learned to others. With the emergence of a plethora of digital media devices, along with low cost laptops and hand held web browsers, there are all manner of opportunities for an aspiring tutor to explore. From the use of web technologies and digital communication to stream lessons and media to students, via pod casts, to the use of the web to collect both summative and formative assessments from students who are working in a distance learning mode of study.

Many people now possess a lot of powerful technology that can be used to enhance teaching and accelerate learning.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 21

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs)

There are a number of Virtual Learning Environments, three key examples being: FirstClass, Blackboard and Moodle. Of these three, FirstClass and Blackboard are commercial and the licenses for each cost tens of thousands of pounds per institution, while Moodle is Open Source and is therefore free. But before any readers get too excited by the notion that Moodle is free, it is worth pointing out that it is a free toolset, but as a free toolset tends to need a higher level of configuration and support, and so is more costly in terms of technical staff. Thus, in essence, all VLEs probably cost around the same when all explicit and implicit costs are added together. Most institutions will be charged in the region of several tens of thousands of pounds in software licenses and technical fees in order to get a VLE up and running. And so an obvious question to ask is: Why bother? ...With the implied further question being: Is it worth it? In essence, a VLE provides a platform for distributing resources and for tutors to liaise with students, and for students to liaise with one another, in study groups. The attraction of a VLE is that it provides an integrated environment for the institution. Otherwise individual tutors could create their own ad hoc equivalent to a VLE using free a variety of fee web tools, such as free chat rooms and bulletin boards. For example, as one web site currently suggests: use Moodle and webspace to host courses, quizzes, assessments, use Yacapaca for Assessment for Learning, use Google Apps for full free email which outperforms the pay-for alternatives, use Google Video, Scribd and Slideshare to host multimedia, use forums for interactivity and open-house communication, use blogs for personalised, pupil-centred learning, and use wikis for collaborative learning... ...however, in terms of kudos, and in terms of the student experience, such an ad hoc arrangement would probably be less than optimal. Given the availability of finance, a commercial VLE or Moodle is probably the way to that all the above can be integrated into a single coherent offering that is rolled out across the institution, and which is customised to give an agreed institutional look and feel that is consistent with the brand image that institutional managers wish to promote....and so that training for both staff and students can be standardised ... and so that support can be provided to encourage early adopters, enthusiastic experimenters... and to make it easy to hold the hand of those who find adoption of new technology a little daunting.

The core of the educational technology provision in many schools, college and universities is a Virtual Learning Environment, such as Blackboard, FirstClass or Moodle. A VLE should enable teachers and students to communicate and to transfer files, quickly and easily. Ideally, a VLE will also support various forms of testing and the collection of student work.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 22

Innovations Laboratories (iLabs)

The integration of technology with creative thinking techniques and innovative approaches to learning, in a well designed physical space, is called an Innovations Laboratory (or iLab). The raison dtre of an iLab being is to provide a customisable space that can be used to explore innovations in face to face teaching and learning, and to explore a variety of ways to enhance the teaching and learning experience. The first educational iLab was the University of East Anglia (UEA) iLab, called The Hub. This was such a success that subsequent labs tend to be based on its design.
A schematic of the UEA iLab, called The Hub

The University College of St Mark & St John Innovations Laboratory, called iSpace

Chillout Space Work Space

From the diagram presented above, you can see that there is a single door into the iLab, leading into what is termed the Anteroom. In some ways this is akin to a Chillout Zone in a club. There are plenty of comfortable chairs laid out around the room, colourful toys and gadgets which provide interest for the eyes of a visitor, plus the all important coffee and water dispensers around which people will naturally congregate to chat. In short, the mood of the Anteroom is informal and there is plenty to perk ones interest. Thus the Anteroom fulfils three key roles within the iLab. The first is congruent with psychological theories of group work, which underline that effective groups normally engage in a little social interaction before beginning to focus on the task in hand. The second is to provide a relaxed, Chillout Zone, which a foil and a contrast to the main work space that we will discuss in a moment. The third is to provide a flexible workspace, with plenty of whiteboards, flipcharts and work tables, so that there is plenty of room to jot down ideas, mind maps and plans; thus making the whole room into a single huge interactive workspace.

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As you can see from the schematic, presented previously, the Anteroom leads into a circular work room, containing tables and computers which are laid out in a more formal fashion than in the Anteroom. This space has more formal tables and chairs and all the walls are covered with whiteboard material, so that ideas can be jotted on any surface. So that when encouraged to think big commercial visitors and students really can let their imagination run away with them. Anyone involved in design or media or marketing tends to love the layout of the circular room because the white walls lend themselves to extended brainstorming. Students also like the configuration because it enables them to work in groups to draw large mind maps and concept maps...and then enables them to discuss the maps with colleagues and with tutors in a way that is not possible when diagrams are drawn on an A4 or an A3 sheet of paper.
(Interestingly, this configuration also leads to a very particular acoustic and one which the author believes impacts the human psyche. The experience of entering The Circular Room is not dissimilar to entering a sacred space, like a whispering gallery in a cathedral, where a circular room creates a very tangible audio effect. However, as yet, this perception is based entirely on anecdotal evidence and has yet to be proven with quantitative data derived from EEG readings).

More pictures from iSpace

At the end of a teaching session, a tutor could easily go and digitally photograph the artefacts produced by students and upload them to the institutional VLE for access by those same students at a later date. The experience of the author was that students were more motivated when they knew that their work would be photographed and would be recorded for later access. In terms of computing, the most up to date iLabs utilise Wi-Fi laptop computers. These can be loaded with a variety of applications. Up until the summer of 2008, the authors own iLab tended to utilise the following: (1) ImaginationCubed (0), InfiNotes (0) and Microsoft Journal (0) for scribbling down ideas, (2) cMap Tools (0), TheBrain (0) and eDraw Mind Map (0) for concept mapping, (2) Bubbl.US (0) and Mind Manager (200) for DeBono-like mind mapping, (3) Gliffy (0), DrawAnywhere (0), eDraw Flowchart (40) and eDraw Max (70) for flow charting and UML, (4) Gannt Project (0), Excel planning templates (0), JVC Gannt (90) and MS Project (400) for Gantt diagrams, (5) Skype (0), GoogleDocs (0), FreeBrainstorm (0), SimpleGroupware (0), DimDim (0), Adobe Connect (variable license), and Facilitate (variable license) for online brainstorming and virtual meetings, (6) and TextAloud ($29) with commercial voices (25) for accessibility and for help with proof reading. Future iLabs could easily integrate 3D video and projection facilities, as in one recent visit to the providers of such technologies, the author discovered that prices have now dropped making an entire system available for less that 12K.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 24

Section Three Technologies about to impact and redefine the Classroom of the Future
The following pages discuss a number of ways in which new technologies may impact the field of Educational Computing in the next few years. Specifically, we will discuss: (1) the enhanced computing power of mobile phones, (2) the impact of instantly rechargeable water based batteries, (3) the trend towards Wi-Fi, WiMax and G3 broadband that is delivered via a mobile device, (4) the advent of roll up and foldable computer screen, (5) web-based bandwidth that makes it feasible to run applications and store data on web servers, in real time, (6) access to low cost and light weight immersive 3D modelling and display technologies, and (7) the emergence of an Mind Technologies. Of the items list above, it is possible to argue that the most important is the ever increasing and enhanced computing power associated with mobile phones, combined with the ability of small mobile devices to connect wirelessly to a range of functional devices, such as: cameras, screens, web applications, web space, audio speakers and immersive video displays. Consider... The modern mobile phone now has more computing power than was available to NASA to put a man on the moon. And, in the next few years, the mobile phone, the NetBook and the laptop will fully merge into a single powerful mobile device that will fit into your pocket. All of which will mean that many of the functions that we currently associate with a personal computer will become distributed into the fabric and infra structure of the world around us. Our mobile devices will simply become a portal to a range of additional the devices and services. Imagine the following scenario: Your mobile phone will be able to connect wirelessly to screen technologies that are located around you. OLED and eINK foldable screens are due to enter the market in force in 2009 and 2010. By 2012 they will be widely prevalent. This might be a flexible display that you carry in your pocket, or a fixed desktop display at your place of work, or a hardened screen embedded in a table or a fabric screen imprinted into the clothes that you wear. And with the next generation of Windows, if the display is appropriately enabled, you will be able to engage in functions that make use of multiple-touch...but even if your display is not enabled, then light weight gloves will allow sophisticated interaction with screen objects, akin to that portrayed the movie Minority Report.

How do you expect me to write with this? It doesnt even have a USB port for a keyboard.

I spent a fortune for a 60 inch plasma TV and now youd rather watch programs on a 2 inch iPod screen.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 25

Even with more computing power than was available to take a man to the moon, you might wonder if your mobile device will struggle with the computations necessary to get all your future applications to work. But that assumes a hardware architecture in which applications are stored on the device that you use. As bandwidth continues to increase, this will no longer be necessary. You will be able to log onto web based servers, on which you can use your mobile device to drive server based applications and edit your server stored data. A similar architecture is already used by many schools in which old low powered computers are used as input and output devices that access a powerful virtual machine that is created on a sever when a user logs into the local network. It takes only a little imagination to scale this tried and tested set up to a massively broad banded web. Or as an alternative, you might use your mobile to access a web-based service akin to the current web application Log Me In to enable you to drive a powerful desktop computer in your home or office. Again, your mobile will simply act as an input and output device...akin to the services provided by a graphics card combined with a USB port in a current desktop computer. And with so much power embedded in the web, there will be little need or point in carry around a laptop that is powerful in its own right, or a DVD player, or even a data stick. You will simply, quickly and easily upload and download data, files and resources to and from the web. All of which makes it increasingly likely that the ultimate computational device will be a mobile phone with links out to other services. Of course, many readers will realise that the preceding ideals will only become possible if a massively powerful broadband network is made available in the local ether. With this need in mind, it is worth noting that many mobile phone providers are experimenting with models of phone that auto-switch between mobile internet, local Wi-Fi (and where it is available an area wide Wi-Max). With Wi-Fi becoming ever more prevalent in cities and towns and even in villages, and with many cities experimenting with the provision of free Wi-Fi and Wi-Max hot spots, and with mobile web access beginning to rival the speed of Wi-Fi access points, we are only a few short years from possessing the infrastructure necessary for truly mobile and massively broadbanded computing to become a reality. Finally, powering all this computation will be a new generation of batteries that can be recharged in seconds, thus enabling you to unwire from the electricity grid. To be precise, new generation batteries will be based on sea water. When you are out of charge you will simply squirt more water or fruit juice into your mobile device and it will power back up. There will be no more need to trail wires around a room or to wait for hours while your battery rejuvenates itself. Or you will be able to make use of wind up technology, such as that now utilised in Africa.

New water-based batteries will be recharged instantly, via a squirt of ions. Consumer versions of such batteries are currently on sale in Japan.

Wind up and solar technologies will soon enable us to enjoy truly wireless computing.

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Mobile phones aside, the other big impact on the classroom of the future will be the emergence of consumer devices that (1) provide the kinds of audio and visual displays that enable users to engage in an immersive experience and (2) the emerging field of Mind Technologies, in which thought and hardware computation will become ever more intertwined. By combining these technologies, it is easy to envisage that by 2020 teachers and students will have access to an immersive simulated world in which the emotional components of cognition are well modelled and the emotional aspects of teaching and learning can be embedded within a powerful computer based educational experience. There is so much potential market for immersive technologies within the games industry that it is only a matter of time before the technologies become available for adoption by teachers and students in colleges and universities. Now: To return from the far future... There are two examples of mind technologies of which educational technologists should be aware: (1) Hemisync (aka Binaural Beat and Holosync) and (2) the new generation consumer EEG brain sensors, such as NeuroSky and Emotiv. First, using Hemisync, it is now possible to use audio presentations to entrain a student into an idealised state of consciousness for learning and to also embed information direct into the subconscious. The work of psychologist experimenting with subliminal perceptions is also of interest here. For example, Eldon Taylor and InnerTalk have produced a catalogue of audio products in which autosuggestion is embedded within ambient sound, in order to effect personal change in users. Recently, the same technology was applied to help people learn new languages. Second, when EEG brain sensors, such as NeuroSky and Emotiv, become more widely available, it is easy to envisage the use of these sensors as a way to monitor a students state of consciousness, and to provide feedback to individuals who want to become adept at accessing specific states of mind without the needs for external audio. For example, by students who want to engage in Photoreading. Thus, it is possible to look forward to a day in which the science fiction ideal of learning whilst sleeping becomes a reality. This will open up a wide set of possibilities to people who live busy lives and who would happily embrace systems of learning that mix learning with fun and/or with relaxation. All of which can be used to expand the market for work based and distance learning, as an adjunct to the face to face teaching and learning that takes place in modern institutes of higher education. In short, by gaining access to a students state of mind, all learning can become fun, engaging and intriguing...whatever the subject matter.

Viewscape VR glasses

Hemisync audio that can flip a listeners brain state

Emotiv brainwave input device

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Now to end this section with a final few notes about next generation screens... With the advent of wireless screens of any size, the small size of a mobile phone will no longer be a bar to the use of a phone as a computer. You will unfold a portable screen or you will borrow a screen from where-ever you happen to be. The cost of the new screens will ultimately be on a par with a plastic bag, because the screens are basically manufactured in a similar way to plastics. Thus, your mobile might easily link to a web based movie or an interactive game ... and stream that movie or game wirelessly onto a home cinema screen or onto a portable immersive display. Once that can happen...then the educational uses for a mobile phone will expand exponentially. For example, imagine a fully portable educational game in which a user interacts within a physical geographical area. For instance, a visit by history students to the location of a famous battle, in which the students see both the physical space and also see a computer reconstruction of the battle, combined together on a pair of portable, immersive 3D glasses. The name for this kind of technology is Augmented Reality (AR)...and it is a technology that can be used to enhance field trips and research by engineers, architects, chemists, biologists and name but a few. As a half way house, towards the preceding vision of a fully immersive virtual and augmented reality, inexpensive 3D video and modelling and display systems are already available for purchase. In a recent visit to, the author viewed 3D video on a massive screen, using polarised glasses. The whole system, including recording and display elements, was priced at only 12k. The author was also intrigued to be able to interact with the display using 3Dmice and wands, all of which would enhance the experience of those using the system. For instance, imagine such a system being used by student designers, architects and engineers to model and demonstrate their work to tutors and to future commercial clients. Ultimately, this is truly an exciting time for institutions who have a strong vision for what could be achieved, and who also possess a network of commercial and governmental partners with whom to work on the basis of sharing the facilities in the future.... ...a strong by-product of this relationship being an expanding network of links between tutors, students and the key businesses driving the local economy. Ideally, teachers and students in the future will utilise new technologies (1) to enable aspects of teaching and learning to migrate out of the classroom and towards the download of a variety of digital media, thereby (2) freeing teacher time to lead discussion and to lead students in practical experiences that make use of iLab and immersive and interactive audio/video experiences.

Concept phones that employ foldable OLED screen technology.

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Section Four A flexible Strategy for the Future

Drawing on all the ideas discussed in preceding sections, a robust plan for developing a strong, effective and cost-conscious vision for the future for educational technology in an institution of Higher Education could contain one or more of the following... 1. The generation of a web portal that uses text, graphics, animations and video in order to inspire, inform and teach tutors and students: About how to make use of psychological techniques that are often referred to as Accelerated Learning. About best practise by teachers and students making use of technology in teaching and learning within the institution. About best practise by teachers and tutors, as it is experienced in other institutions. About how to integrate free and low cost software into various approaches to teaching and learning. Alongside the web portal, it would be useful to institute a number of fora for discussion by interested tutors and students, who: Want to discuss the current perceived state of educational technology, in terms of: (1) what works well, (2) what could be done better, (3) what needs rethinking, and (4) what could be added to existing hardware, software and the provision of technical services. Want to explore how new technologies might be incorporated into teaching and learning, and are willing to experiment and to share the results of experimentation with colleagues. In summary, the preceding ideas should be easy to institute. They should also be relative inexpensive, and yet will enable mangers to plug gaps in the provision of educational technology, whilst at the same time encouraging staff and students to feel they have a say in the technologies made available to them. All of which meets many of the criteria for success described in Section One.

The future of technology in education is an exciting one. (Images from concept art for the movie Minority Report)

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 29

Having instituted a number of ongoing low cost initiatives, the way will then become clear to build upon these and to engage with an intuitional wide discussion with regard the establishment of a core Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that is able to support the work undertaken by teachers and students. At the same time, it would be ideal if the institution would commit to exploring one or more high profile projects, designed to catch the eye of local dignitaries, highly placed governmental figures, along with prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs. In particular, based on the authors own experiences, the following can be expected to elicit a very positive reaction from potential commercial users and sponsors: To identify and to then convert a physical space into a full or a partial Innovations Laboratory (iLab). The cost of such an initiative will be between 50k and 100. (Keeping in mind that UK institutions have found that the initial cost of development can quickly be reclaimed by running the lab as a semi commercial entity and by gaining funding via commercial sponsorship). To identify one or more performance and/or presentational spaces in which traditional forms of presentational technology can be integrated with 3D interactive displays. Again the cost of such an initiative might be expected to be in the region of 100K. To identify one or more physical space s in which to trial a 3D digital immersive space, such as a Virtual Reality CAVE, for use by researchers engaged in fields that require visualisation and 3Dmodelling.

Polyvision Thunder: An impressive commercial system for institutions who want to mix innovative teaching with rooms into which to invite commercial partners. Each of the posters on the wall is an interactive digital screen.

To establish links with the authors and producers of various Mind Technologies, in order: (1) to seek sponsorship for associated research and (2) to seek to become involved in experimentation and testing of the new technology...thereby placing the institution at the forefront of this exciting new field...and potential market. To review the feasibility and desirability of using new technologies to widen and deepen market penetration in aspects of teaching and learning related to (1) work-based learning and also to (2) distance learning both for academic awards and also for awards linked with personal and professional development.

Investing Wisely in Educational Technology - Copyright Dr Peter EH Smee,, January 2009, Page 30



Two years, as a UI/UX Designer, conceiving and authoring resources to facilitate group discussion and collaborative planning; Seven years, as a UI/UX Designer, researching innovations in e-learning, accelerated learning and new mind technologies.

My name is Dr Peter EH Smee; and, I am a Learning and Development Consultant, specialised in the user experience design and delivery of new programmes of study and new educational technologies. Within this role, my key skills relate to: accelerated learning, innovation facilitation, leadership development, and the UI/UX design, programming and testing of innovative educational technologies; in support of: classroom teaching, systems modelling, collaborative planning and digital communication. To date, I have acquired over twenty years of award winning and award nominated success; connected with: (i) the client-centred scripting and presentation of face-to-face trainings; (ii) the coaching and mentoring of professional skills; (iii) the instructional design and authoring of blended learning solutions; (iv) the user centred design and programming of new systems modelling technologies; and, (v) the usability testing of new e-learning software. My most recent work experience includes:
One year, as a Commercial Trainer, conceiving and delivering workshops in business analysis and systems modelling; One year, as an Innovations Facilitator, facilitating team meetings in support of business analysis and systems modelling; Two years, as a Senior University Lecturer, conceiving and delivering courses related to presentation skills; Two years, as a Senior University Lecturer, conceiving and delivering courses in the design of educational technologies; Two years, as a Senior University Lecturer, conceiving and delivering courses in systems modelling and business analysis; Two years, as a Senior University Lecturer, conceiving and delivering courses in innovation facilitation and project planning; Two years, as a UI/UX Designer, conceiving and authoring nlp-based neuromarketing software; Two years, as a UI/UX Designer, conceiving and authoring resources to facilitate creative thinking and innovation facilitation;

My background being: a Doctorate in the design of Educational Technologies; a Masters Degree in the design of Intelligent Computer Systems; a first degree in Sport Science and Dance, specialising in Performance Psychology; professional level certifications in: NLP, DHE, ETF, Psych-K, Reiki and Ericksonian Hypnosis; and orientation trainings in: Photoreading, Brain Entrainment, Biophysical Effect, Remote Viewing, Systematic Kinesiology, Bodynamics and Somatic Experiencing. In terms of what I might do for you: 1. Personal Coaching and Consultancy... I can provide you with personalised coaching, consultancy or mentoring, in my office in Basel, in Switzerland, or via Skype, over the web. For example, I can: (i) provide one-to-one mentoring on aspects of accelerated learning, creative thinking and leadership development; (ii) coach and choreograph public presentations; (iii) tutor research and report writing skills; (iv) advise on the structuring of an integrated long term programme of personal health and personal development; (v) deliver counselling related to stress, bullying, phobias, addictions or trauma; and (vi) contribute to the user experience design of new programmes of study and educational technologies. 2. Training Workshops... I am working with Anthony McCarthy, the Director of the Cross Border Banking Consultancy, based in Zurich, in order to deliver trainings in business analysis and systems modelling; for individuals and groups, working within Finance. Tony is a Senior Business Analyst, with over fifteen years of experience, heading up major international banking projects. Our training thus combines his experience as a commercial Business and Process Analyst, with my experience as a Learning and Development Consultant; the result being a view of business analysis and systems modelling that is unique. As well as clear and detailed instruction in modelling techniques, our intent is to help you understand the psychology and philosophy that you need to have to hand, if you want to succeed as an analyst, within a modern corporate environment. Or as we put it: the Who, What, Where and Why of Analysis. If you are interested, visit the website, in order to find out more.