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Digital World 2020
The Emergent Near Future
As I wrote in an earlier post, our technological near future is driven by four major forces:
1. The Cloud: In the PC era, innovation was driven by Moore’s Law. Computing processing speeds doubled every eighteen months and that determined what we could get our hardware to do.
These days, however, Kryder’s Law, which projects a doubling in storage capacity every year and Nielsen’s Law which sets the pace for bandwidth capacity at every 21 months, are more determinant. We are now able to store huge amounts of data and access it from anywhere and our ability to do so is increasing rapidly.
2. Evolution of Client Side Scripting: In the early days, the Web was merely a bunch of static electronic pages linked together. You could access documents, but there was no functionality.
Today, mobile apps and HTML5 are enabling entirely new experiences. Not surprisingly, that’s where a lot of innovation efforts are going.
3. Linked Data: As early as the late 90’s, Tim Berners-Lee recognized a shortcoming of the Web he created. While it helped give much greater access to the world’s information, that same information was still trapped inside of incompatible databases. So he invented a new, semantic web to unify them.
A decade later, linked data is finally gaining traction and is becoming an important technology driver in it’s own right.
4. The Mobile Explosion: As my agency, Moxie, described in a recent report we are increasingly operating in a post-PC computing environment. We now carry around multiple connected devices, all of which have greater computing power than our office desktops did a decade ago.
Those four trends are what drive innovation today and the stuff coming online now, such as augmented reality, app driven digital TV and mobile sharing sites like Instagram combine two or more of them to create something truly new and exciting.
However, around 2020, all the rules will change and we will enter the realm of the unknown. What exactly happens then is anybody’s guess, but there are already early signs of what’s to come.
Technology Future Inventions
What is Virtual Reality?
The definition of virtual reality comes, naturally, from the definitions for both ‘virtual’ and ‘reality’. The definition of ‘virtual’ is near and reality is what we experience as human beings. So the term ‘virtual reality’ basically means ‘near-reality’. This could, of course, mean anything but it usually refers to a specific type of reality emulation.
We know the world through our senses and perception systems. In school we all learned that we have five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. These are however only our most obvious sense organs. The truth is that humans have many more senses than this, such as a sense of balance for example. These other sensory inputs, plus some special processing of sensory information by our brains ensures that we have a rich flow of information from the environment to our minds.
Everything that we know about our reality comes by way of our senses. In other words, our entire experience of reality is simply a combination of sensory information and our brains sense-making mechanisms for that information. It stands to reason then, that if you can present your senses with made-up information, your perception of reality would also change in response to it. You would be presented with a version of reality that isn’t really there, but from your perspective it would be perceived as real. Something we would refer to as a virtual reality.
So, in summary, virtual reality entails presenting our senses with a computer generated virtual environment that we can explore in some fashion.
In technical terms…
Answering “what is virtual reality” in technical terms is straight-forward. Virtual reality is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a person. That person becomes part of this virtual world or is immersed within this environment and whilst there, is able to manipulate objects or perform a series of actions.
How is virtual reality achieved?
Although we talk about a few historical early forms of virtual reality elsewhere on the site, today virtual reality is usually implemented using computer technology. There are a range of systems that are used for this purpose, such as headsets, omni-directional treadmills and special gloves. These are used to actually stimulate our senses together in order to create the illusion of reality.
This is more difficult than it sounds, since our senses and brains are evolved to provide us with a finely synchronized and mediated experience. If anything is even a little off we can usually tell. This is where you’ll hear terms such Ignore and realism enter the conversation. These issues that divide convincing or enjoyable virtual reality experiences from jarring or unpleasant ones are partly technical and partly conceptual. Virtual reality technology needs to take our physiology into account. For example, the human visual field does not look like a video frame. We have (more or less) 180 degrees of vision and although you are not always consciously aware of your peripheral vision, if it were gone you’d notice. Similarly when what your eyes and the vestibular system in your ears tell you are in conflict it can cause motion sickness. Which is what happens to some people on boats or when they read while in a car.
If an implementation of virtual reality manages to get the combination of hardware, software and sensory synchronicity just right it achieves something known as a sense of presence. Where the subject really feels like they are present in that environment.
Why have virtual reality?
This may seems like a lot of effort, and it is! What makes the development of virtual reality worthwhile? The potential entertainment value is clear. Immersive films and video games are good examples. The entertainment industry is after all a multi-billion dollar one and consumers are always keen on novelty. Virtual reality has many other, more serious, applications as well.
There are a wide variety of applications for virtual reality which include:
Virtual reality can lead to new and exciting discoveries in these areas which impact upon our day to day lives.
Wherever it is too dangerous, expensive or impractical to do something in reality, virtual reality is the answer. From trainee fighter pilots to medical applications trainee surgeons, virtual reality allows us to take virtual risks in order to gain real world experience. As the cost of virtual reality goes down and it becomes more mainstream you can expect more serious uses, such as education or productivity applications, to come to the fore. Virtual reality and its cousin augmented reality could substantively change the way we interface with our digital technologies. Continuing the trend of humanizing our technology.
Features of virtual reality systems
There are many different types of virtual reality systems but they all share the same characteristics such as the ability to allow the person to view three-dimensional images. These images appear life-sized to the person.
Plus they change as the person moves around their environment which corresponds with the change in their field of vision. The aim is for a seamless join between the person’s head and eye movements and the appropriate response, e.g. change in perception. This ensures that the virtual environment is both realistic and enjoyable.
A virtual environment should provide the appropriate responses – in real time- as the person explores their surroundings. The problems arise when there is a delay between the person’s actions and system response or latency which then disrupts their experience. The person becomes aware that they are in an artificial environment and adjusts their behaviour accordingly which results in a stilted, mechanical form of interaction.
The aim is for a natural, free-flowing form of interaction which will result in a memorable experience.
Virtual reality is the creation of a virtual environment presented to our senses in such a way that we experience it as if we were really there. It uses a host of technologies to achieve this goal and is a technically complex feat that has to account for our perception and cognition. It has both entertainment and serious uses. The technology is becoming cheaper and more widespread. We can expect to see many more innovative uses for the technology in the future and perhaps a fundamental way in which we communicate and work thanks to the possibilities of virtual reality.
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Growing Food With Hydroponics In the Arctic
The landscape is virtually treeless around a coastal hub town above Alaska’s Arctic Circle, where even summer temperatures are too cold for boreal roots to take hold.
Amid these unforgiving conditions, a creative kind of farming is sprouting up in the largely Inupiat community of Kotzebue.
A subsidiary of a local Native corporation is using hydroponics technology to grow produce inside an insulated, 40-foot shipping container equipped with glowing magenta LED lights. Arctic Greens is harvesting kale, various lettuces, basil and other greens weekly from the soil-free system and selling them at the supermarket in the community of nearly 3,300.
“We’re learning,” Will Anderson, president of the Native Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corp., said of the business launched last spring. “We’re not a farming culture.”
The venture is the first of its kind north of the Arctic Circle, according to the manufacturer of Kotzebue’s pesticide-free system. The goal is to set up similar systems in partnerships with other rural communities far from Alaska’s minimal road system — where steeply priced vegetables can be more than a week in transit and past their prime by the time they arrive at local stores.
There are other tools for extending the short growing season in a state with cold soil. One increasingly popular method involves high tunnels, tall hoop-shaped structures that cover crops.
But the season can last year-round with indoor hydroponics, which uses water and nutrients to grow vertically stacked plants rooted in a binding material such as rock wool.
Anchorage-based Vertical Harvest Hydroponics, which builds enclosed systems out of transformed shipping containers, partnered with Kikiktagruk. The 2-year-old company also sold the system to a farmer in the rural town of Dillingham.
“Our vision is that this can be a long-term solution to the food shortage problems in the north,” said Ron Perpich, a company founder. “We’re hoping that we can put systems anywhere that there’s people.”
But the operations have challenges, including steep price tags. Startup costs in Kotzebue were around $200,000, including the customized freight container and the price to fly it in a C-130 transport plane from Anchorage, 550 miles to the southeast.
The town also relies heavily on expensive diesel power, so operations could eat into profits.
In addition, moving tender produce from its moist, warm growing enclosure to a frigid environment can be challenging. And farming can be a largely foreign concept to Native communities with deeply imbedded traditions of hunting and gathering.
Still, the potential benefits outweigh the downsides, according to Johanna Herron, state market access and food safety manager.
Grown with the correct nutrient balance, hydroponics produce is considered just as safe as crops grown using other methods.
“It’s not the only solution,” Herron said. “Hydroponics is just a piece of it, but certainly an excellent thing for communities to look into.”
Alaska Commercial Co., which has stores in nearly three dozen remote communities, is carrying Arctic Greens in the Kotzebue store. This week, the Dillingham AC store is beginning to sell produce grown in the local farm’s hydroponics system. The chain will bring the Arctic Greens brand to more locations if expansion plans prove cost-effective, AC general manager Walter Pickett told The Associated Press.
“The produce is fantastic, at least what we’ve been seeing out of Kotzebue,” he said. “The customers love it.”
Lisa Adan is among the Kotzebue residents who regularly buy the produce. She said there are plans to start providing it at the local hospital’s cafeteria, where she is an assistant manager.
Adan said the locally grown greens are superior to the produce that’s transported north.
“It’s so much better,” she said. “It tastes like it just came out of your garden.”
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S.A.R.A – Socially Aware Robot Assistant
Using cameras and a microphone, the Socially Aware Robot Assistant is able to not only listen to your queries but take in how you are feeling about the interaction. A normal answer coupled with detection of a smile will make S.A.R.A. reply differently than someone frowning and offering a response that doesn’t comply with social norms. “She looks at your behavior and her behavior,” says Justine Cassell, Carnegie Mellon professor and director of the project, “and calculates on the basis of the intersection of that behavior. Which no one has ever done before.”
The S.A.R.A. project consists of three elements never before used, says Cassell: conversational strategy classifiers, a rapport estimator, and a social reasoner. “The conversational strategy classifiers are five separate recognizers that can classify any one of five conversational strategies with over 80 percent accuracy.”
Simultaneously, S.A.R.A.’s rapport estimator gives the virtual assistant a readout of how well you and her are getting along. “That one uses a kind of A.I. algorithm that’s brand new called a temporal association rule.” The algorithm works in real time, calculating in the moment.
Then the social reasoner “decides what to say based on the level of rapport, the conversational strategies last used, and the non-verbal behavior.” This is where S.A.R.A.’s ability to recognize smiling and social norms comes in.
When I chatted with S.A.R.A. about the conference, its answers were not too much different than what I’d get from something like Siri. As my smile increased, S.A.R.A.’s responses got more conversational. When stating my goal for the Frontiers Conference was “to meet Obama” S.A.R.A. responded saying “I bet you’re not the only one with those goals.” After S.A.R.A. showed me what panels the president would be a part of, I tried to steer the conversation towards other queries, but S.A.R.A. coldly brought it back around to the topic of Frontiers Conference panels.
What is the future of technology in education?
Forget devices, the future of education technology is all about the cloud and anywhere access. In the future, teaching and learning is going to be social, says Matt Britland.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked what I thought the future of technology in education was. It is a really interesting question and one that I am required to think about all the time. By its very nature, technology changes at a fast pace and making it accessible to pupils, teachers and other stakeholders is an ongoing challenge.
So what is the future? Is it the iPad?
No, I don’t think it is. For me, the future is not about one specific device. Don’t get me wrong, I love the iPad. In fact, I have just finished a trial to see if using them really does support teaching and learning – and they have proved effective. I’ve written about the trial in more detail on my blog.
iPads and other mobile technology are the ‘now’. Although, they will play a part in the future, four years ago the iPad didn’t even exist. We don’t know what will be the current technology in another four. Perhaps it will be wearable devices such as Google Glass, although I suspect that tablets will still be used in education.
The future is about access, anywhere learning and collaboration, both locally and globally. Teaching and learning is going to be social. Schools of the future could have a traditional cohort of students, as well as online only students who live across the country or even the world. Things are already starting to move this way with the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs).
For me the future of technology in education is the cloud.
Technology can often be a barrier to teaching and learning. I think the cloud will go a long way to removing this barrier. Why? By removing the number of things that can go wrong.
Schools, will only need one major thing to be prepared for the future. They will not need software installed, servers or local file storage. Schools will need a fast robust internet connection. Infrastructure is paramount to the future of technology in education.
We don’t know what the new ‘in’ device will be in the future. What we do know, is that it will need the cloud. Schools and other educational institutions will need to futureproof their infrastructure the best they can.
This should be happening now. If you want to start to use mobile technology in your school, whether it is an iPad program or a bring your own device (BYOD) program your connectivity must be fast and reliable. Student and teacher buy in, is so important. If the network is slow and things are not working properly students and teachers will not want to use the devices. Make the sure the infrastructure is there before the devices.
Teachers can use the cloud to set, collect and grade work online. Students will have instant access to grades, comments and work via a computer, smartphone or tablet. Many schools are already doing this. Plus, services such as the educational social network Edmodo offer this for free.
This is where devices come in. All devices, not matter which ones we will use in the future will need to access the cloud. Each student will have their own. Either a device specified by the school or one they have chosen to bring in themselves.
School classrooms are going to change. Thanks to the cloud and mobile devices, technology will be integrated into every part of school. In fact, it won’t just be the classrooms that will change. Games fields, gyms and school trips will all change. Whether offsite or on site the school, teachers, students and support staff will all be connected. In my ideal world, all classrooms will be paperless.
With the cloud, the world will be our classroom. E-learning will change teaching and learning. Students can learn from anywhere and teachers can teach from anywhere.
The cloud can also encourage independent learning. Teachers could adopt a flipped classroom approach more often. Students will take ownership of their own learning. Teachers can put resources for students online for students to use. These could be videos, documents, audio podcasts or interactive images. All of these resources can be accessed via a student’s computer, smartphone or tablet. As long as they have an internet connection either via Wifi, 3G or 4G they are good to go.
Rather than being ‘taught’ students can learn independently and in their own way. There is also a massive amount of resources online that students can find and use themselves, without the help of the teacher.
This of course means the role of the teacher will change.
Shared applications and documents on the cloud, such as Google Apps will allow for more social lessons. How often do students get an opportunity to collaborate productively using technology in the classroom? It isn’t always easy. However, students working on documents together using Google Apps is easy. They could be in the same room or in different countries. These are all good skills for students to have. Of course, these collaborative tools are also very useful for teachers. I for one have worked on several projects where these tools have lets me work with people across the country. Some of which I have never met.
What we must remember is that when schools adopt new technology and services, they must be evaluated. This way, as a school, you know if they are successful and what improvements are needed. Staff will also need training, you can’t expect staff to use new technology if it they are not confident users or creators. Any initiative is doomed to failure without well trained, confident staff who can see how technology can support and benefit teaching and learning.
Plenty of schools have already embraced this, but there’s still a way to go to ensure all schools are ready for the future of technology. It is time for all schools to embrace the cloud.
Matt is head of ICT at Kingston Grammar School and the director of education consultancy Realise Learning. You can follow him on Twitter: @mattbritland.
Technology in 2029…
3 Scientists Win Nobel in Chemistry for Creating World’s Smallest Machines
Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa (left to right) jointly shared the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
A trio of scientists — Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa — has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for designing and creating the world’s smallest machines, turning linked-up molecules into contraptions that could do work, the Royal Academy of Swedish Sciences announced this morning (Oct. 5). These include a tiny lift, artificial muscles and a mini motor.
The molecular machines, which are 1,000 times thinner than a strand of hair, have “taken chemistry to a new dimension,” according to a Nobel Prize statement.
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A Dozen Strategies for Improving Online Student Retention
Online student retention is one of the most critical components for the success of any college or university. The key to a successful online retention program is the realization that student retention is everybody’s job.
The main objective of a well-established online retention program is to maintain a student’s enrollment and to keep him highly satisfied with the level of education he is acquiring in an online environment. This is not an easy task since there are many reasons why a student might need or want to withdraw or leave the program of study.
Below are a dozen strategies for improving online student retention for administrators and faculty:
- Make a good first impression. The first day of class should be both welcoming and informative. The instructor should create a welcome letter with a few details about herself and the course and have students introduce themselves as well. After students post their introductions in the discussion board, the instructor should respond to each and every student. These first-day activities help set the tone for the course as a community of learners.
- Never underestimate the importance of instructor presence. Providing students with immediate feedback and being highly visible in the classroom and online threaded discussion boards will improve the online experience for learners.
- When grading student assignments, it’s best to provide constructive recommendations for improvement that are highly motivating and encouraging. It’s easy for attempts at humor to fall flat or words to be misinterpreted in the written word, so be sure reread your comments before hitting submit.
- Answer all questions posed by students in the faculty forum section within 24-48 hours, and communicate this feedback window to students so they know what to expect. A student could be encountering a discouraging issue or a personal emergency that could lead him or her to withdraw from the program, so a timely response is critical.
- Make students feel they are a part of the program by letting them know how important their contribution is to the class. One of the most important factors impacting retention is whether students feel they belong to part of a larger community, which can affect whether they continue on a course of study or drop out (DeVries and Wheeler, 1996; as cited by Ludwig-Hardman and Dunlap, 2003).
- Let students know they were missed when they return from being absent. This gives awareness to the student of how important they are to the class, that their classroom contribution was greatly missed, and that you’re aware of their absence.
- Practice proven adult learning principles and strategies in the classroom. For example, students should perceive that the goals of their learning experience are directly related to their own personal goals. Also, their learning experience should be organized around what they see as relevant to the “real world.” The student is provided with self-directed and independent learning activities. The faculty should ensure that the learning environment is characterized by mutual trust and respect, freedom of expression, and acceptance of differences.
- Introduce collaborative learning techniques in the classroom. The famous Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1978), who contributed to the later formation of constructivism, theorized that students learn more effectively in a collaborative environment where they can share their ideas and experiences.
- Engage students by hosting live webinars. In addition to the classroom experience, introduce a variety of career skill topics that will provide students with learning tips and other strategies that will help them in the future.
- Establish an early alert system. Identify and assist underperforming students who are at risk. Recommend to the students to seek assistance with the appropriate support staff.
- Help students establish specific goals for attending the program and each course. At the very beginning of the course, in the announcement section, the instructor should establish the course expectations. This ensures the students know early on what is required of them for a successful completion of the course. If the student does not meet their weekly goals, the faculty should contact the student and remind them of the course goals and help to get the student back on track.
- If you’re an administrator, be sure to involve faculty in student retention matters. Because faculty have the most interaction with students, they serve as a tremendous resource for helping improve online student retention and success.
The Advantages of Having a Smart Board in a High School Classroom
by Katherine Bradley, studioD
The interactive whiteboard — Smart Board is one brand — is a technological advancement that has significantly affected teaching and learning in the high school classroom. A Smart Board or generic version provides quick and easy assess to online resources and enables teachers to reach more students by addressing a variety of learning styles. Graphics, music and other instructional resources can be called upon at the push of a button. Additionally, their interactive nature provides the opportunity for students to become involved in the instructional process.
Immediate Access to Online Resources
Using interactive whiteboard technology enables high school teachers to integrate the lesson with a variety of instructional modalities quickly and easily. A teacher can call upon a segment of an online video or news headline to help reinforce a social studies unit. A virtual field trip becomes possible. Higher level math teachers can use a Smart Board graphing calculator to not only work a problem, but also to demonstrate graphing the process.
Smart Boards are interactive, providing the opportunity for high school students to take part in the instructional process. Students who are engaged in the instructional process tend to learn more. Interactive whiteboards provide the ability to touch, write or draw to demonstrate understanding, and students’ work can be saved to be used later. The interactive whiteboard also provides an avenue for quick assessment with immediate feedback. Students can complete multiple choice assessments using clickers that communicate with the whiteboard. This provides immediate feedback to improve instruction by quickly identifying areas that need to be reviewed.
Multiple Technologies and Diversity of Software
The possibilities of integrating other technologies and a variety of software packages are impressive. A video camera, camera or document camera can be attached to the whiteboard for instruction. In a high school science class, the dissection of a chicken can be projected onto the whiteboard. Through even greater technological advances, the viewing lens of a classroom microscope can be connected to the interactive board. It presents the same technological possibilities as a computer. Students can access or contribute to the presentation via a notebook or tablet.
Data Storage and Retrieval
Interactive whiteboards make possible for the data generated during the class lecture to be stored and later retrieved for review or to email to an absent student. Everything that is done in a high school class, whether student or teacher generated, can be saved and later altered. Portions of the data can be redacted so that during review, students can test their understanding by attempting to replace the missing information. Teachers can share examples generated in one class with the next class. Instruction becomes comprehensive for across classes, and material can then be downloaded, printed or even emailed to absent students.
A House that Walks
A new prototype house walked around the campus of the Wysing Arts Centre in Cambridgeshire, England.
The eco-friendly house is powered by solar cells and miniature windmills, and comes with a kitchen, a composting toilet, a system for collecting rain water, one bed, a wood stove for CO2 neutral heating, a rear opening that forms a stairway entrance, and six legs.
A collaborative effort between MIT and the Danish design collective N55, the house walks about five kilometers an hour similar to the walking speed of a human.
The legs require a software algorithm to calculate the movement and position of the legs to provide stability over varying terrain.
The house can turn, move forward or backwards, or change height as required and can be programmed with GPS waypoints for traveling to destinations.
– See more at: http://www.inventor-strategies.com/Latest-technology-inventions.html#sthash.hRAzyxjd.dpuf
Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle
“Autonomous Concept Vehicle” is a long way to say “robot tractor.”
Tractors revolutionized farming. We’ve written about tractors in Popular Science for a century, and like the use of domesticated animals before them, tractors greatly increased the amount of land a farmer could use, and because tractors ran on fuels and not grains, using tractors instead of horses and mules freed up former animal feed land for other crops. The revolution first took off in the 1920s, and it continues to this day. Only this time, instead of a human driving the tractor across the land, autonomous tractors drive themselves.
New Home Automation Technology is Making Homes Smarter
We’ve all left the house and suddenly remembered – too late – that we’ve forgotten something important. The coffee maker is still on, or the garage door was never closed. Then you start to doubt that you locked the doors or turned the heat down.
You feel helpless, and you’re stuck worrying until you get home again.
Smart homes are breaking that cycle.
Imagine simply taking out your smart phone and pressing a button to shut that garage door and make sure the lights are off. And at the end of the day, using your phone again to turn on your heat, the lights, and your favorite music before you even leave the office.
Making homes “smart” is a growing trend that has gone from button-press security systems to controlling and observing your home from anywhere.
Here are 5 Trends in Smart Home Technology:
- Décor-Friendly Gadgets. Home automation technology can blend in better with your décor than traditional devices. TechCrunch highlights thermostats with good design that are aesthetically pleasing, and smart door locks that look sleek and modern.
- Programmable or Zone-Based Thermostats. Have you ever heated your home for no one? Turn the heat on or down from anywhere with your smart phone or tablet with a programmable thermostat. Zone-based thermostats use motion sensors and heat only occupied rooms.
- Wireless Power Controls. Home automation allows you to control myriad devices with the touch of your finger. This California man installed an automated sound system for music inside and outside his home, along with HVAC, lighting, security and pool/spa features that could all be controlled with his family’s iPads, wall touchpanels or remote controls.
- Automated Door Locks. If you’re carrying heavy grocery bags or a crying child, unlocking your door can be quite a feat. Smart locks take the guesswork out of using a key by automating your front door to unlock or even open as you approach.
- Advanced Security Systems. Watch your kids get home safely from school, make sure they’re doing their homework and not watching TV, or simply set up and arm your security system and other alarms while you’re away with the touch of a button.
Quite a few devices for home automation made their debut at CES 2014 in January that take the concept of a smart home to a whole new level. In general, innovations in technology for the home are becoming widespread, and the ClearViewTM Audio ClioTM is among those new innovations as the first invisible speaker that produces great sound without compromising your décor.
Head In The Clouds: New Tech Leaders Focus On Cloud And Digitization Innovation
As technology leaps forward at an ever-quickening pace, market leaders of the two leading secular trends – cloud technology and enterprise digitization – are steadily expanding their lead while leaving the competition in a cloud of cyber-dust.
Even though technology has been one of the worst performing sectors of the S&P 500 in 2016, there has been no slow-down in the pace of innovation. More likely, the slump in tech stocks is simply a normal reversion to the mean following a spectacular year in the market in 2015. We believe long-term prospects remain very promising for the leading innovators.
Cloud technology, in which data and applications are moved offsite to a centralized “cloud” server, has become standard practice among a growing legion of businesses. “Cloud technology provides businesses with much greater agility and security of their technology infrastructure while allowing them to focus on their core competencies,” explains Nabil Elsheshai, Senior Equity Research Analyst for Thrivent Asset Management. “The early leaders in this area include Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Salesforce.com, with ServiceNow and Google occupying specialized niches while trying to catch the leaders.”
Digitization has come to encompass a large number of sub-trends that change how companies do business. For example, digitization entails automation of business processes, multi-channel interactions with customers (such as mobile), and new ways to market or interact with customers, such as social networking, videos, e-commerce, and other interactive mediums.
As these new platforms replace the older models, some of the early software and hardware titans, such as IBM, Oracle, EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and VMware, may see a steady decline in market share.
What is an App?
Recently I spoke at an event and used the word “app” in my remarks. Afterward, someone approached me and said, “I enjoyed your talk … but, can you please explain, what is an ‘app’?”
Talk about a reality check! It was like getting a bucket of cold water in my face. It was a perfect reminder of a lesson I know to be true and often preach, but in this case didn’t live up to. That lesson is: we sometimes throw about the latest tech words that we assume others will know, because we spend much time online and dealing with technology and the words are common to us. But the general population may still consider words such as “app” to be unintelligible lingo.
In January 2011, the American Dialect Society named “app” the word of the year for 2010. That action alone says a lot. Being named word of year signifies that a term is trendy and growing in popularity. However, just because the use of a word is growing, we shouldn’t assume that everyone knows it — yet. That’s because being named word of the year also implies that the word is newly prominent. If the word were utterly commonplace like “dog” or “cat” it wouldn’t have been singled out. Therefore, we should recognize that not everyone will know the word “app” at this point.
So I am going to try to explain what an app is. And it’s one of those words that sounds harder to understand than it really is.
The word app is a noun, and it’s short for “application.” Application in this case refers to a software application — in other words, an app is a software program.
But an app is not just any old software program — it’s a special type of software program.
An app typically refers to software used on a smartphone or mobile device such as the Android, iPhone, BlackBerry or iPad, as in “mobile app” or “iphone app.”
But the phrase “Web app” or “online app” is also used in a business setting as an abbreviation for “Web application” or “online application” — meaning software that you access and use while online, via a browser, instead of software residing on your computer (such as Microsoft Word).
We could get more esoteric, as this definition does, preferring to think of an app (at least in the sense of an app used on a mobile device) as being a “shortened” or narrow software application, that perhaps does just one function or that provides a small bit of entertainment. While that definition holds some appeal when referring to mobile devices, it doesn’t really address the word “app” when used in the sense of an online software service.
For small-business purposes, we don’t need to get complicated.
For most of us, it’s sufficient to think of an app this way: an app is a software program that you use online or on mobile devices.
Apps often have a specific narrow use, such as a “shopping app” for your smartphone. But that’s not always the case. Some are very broad and perform a lot of tasks. However, they all share one thing in common. They are all a piece of software that you use.
Why An App Is Important
Now that we’ve got that figured out, the next question you’re probably asking is “why should I care about apps?” Two good reasons:
(1) Web apps or online apps can be a faster, cheaper, more efficient way of deploying software in your business. Rather than buying a software license, having to install it on your servers or local computers, keeping up with updates — all of which can be expensive and take time — you can simply go online and sign up for an account. In a few minutes you are using the software. And typically you pay a monthly fee, meaning that you don’t have to pay license fee up front. For more on what you can do with Web applications, read: How Small Businesses Use Web Apps – and What to Look For.
(2) Mobile apps extend the reach and productivity of your business. Once you equip your mobile device and/or your employees’ mobile devices with apps, then you and they can perform all sorts of business functions while out of the office traveling, on sales calls, making service calls, etc. A mobile app usually enables you to do something specific, like accessing your bank account in the case of a banking app, or run payroll with a payroll mobile app. Check out: 10 Ways to Use Mobile Devices to Run Your Business.
So the next time someone bandies about the term “app” you’ll be in the know.
More importantly, perhaps you’ll be in a position to say, “Oh sure, we use all sorts of apps to run our business better.”
How do Green Screens Work
In movies and on television, actors walk — and sometimes fly — through elaborate and fantastic landscapes that simply don’t exist in the real world. They ride on dragons’ backs, grow crops on distant planets or visit magical realms with towering citadels inhabited by bizarre creatures. Sometimes the story takes place in a familiar city, but in the distant past — or the far-off future. Sometimes characters stage epic battles that seem to pulverize landmarks or places that audiences know well or where they live. And sometimes, the characters themselves are physically transformed, or defy the laws of gravity.
All of this high-tech fakery happens with the help of backdrops of brightly colored fabric or paint, and a process called “chroma key,” also referred to as “green screen” due to the backdrops’ color, which is typically a vivid green.
Chroma keying allows media technicians to easily separate green screens and panels from the people standing in front of them and replace those backgrounds with pretty much anything — from animated weather maps to the skyline of 1930s-era New York City to the icy Wall guarded by the Night’s Watch in HBO’s hit TV series “Game of Thrones.”
Uber Revs Engine in Self-Driving Race
Uber on Thursday announced plans to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh later this month. Its first partially self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles will be assigned at random to customers who use the company’s app, according to a Bloomberg report.
Each of the prototype cars will have an actual human on board to act as copilot and monitor the vehicle’s performance from the driver’s seat. The passengers who are provided transport in one of those vehicles reportedly will receive a free ride.
Uber, which launched in 2014, has its headquarters in Pittsburgh.
The company on Thursday also announced that it would acquire Otto, the self-driving commercial vehicle startup founded earlier this year by Anthony Levandowski, who previously worked on Google’s autonomous vehicle program; Lior Ron, the former project lead for Google Maps; Don Burnette; and Claire Delaunay.
Otto, which currently has a team of around 90 employees, retrofits commercial vehicles including semi-tracker trailers with radars, cameras and laser sensors. The company completed a demo of its autonomous technology on public highways in May.
Bridges, Winding Roads and Snow
Pittsburgh offers a number advantages for testing a semi-autonomous car.
“It is a good test-case location,” said Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst at IHS Markit.
“You have some weather. You do have some congestion, some winding roads. It is not as big as New York or Chicago, but it is a nice size to test in,” she told TechNewsWorld. “The weather conditions are favorable, but you do have snow and cold, and that can be a benefit in testing a self-driving vehicle.”
The unique Pittsburgh terrain also is a plus. Known as the “City of Bridges,” Pittsburgh includes many hills and winding roads as well, unlike many other cities’ uniform grids. Uber may need to keep its tests localized in order to succeed.
“The downside of this test program will be if they go too big too fast,” warned Kyle Landry, research associate at Lux Research.
“Even in a medium-sized city such as Pittsburgh, they need to approach this in scale,” he told TechNewsWorld
Science Daily – For what trending in Science News
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No other web site offers readers the depth and breadth of breaking news about the latest scientific discoveries that ScienceDaily does in such a user-friendly format – all freely accessible with no subscription fees. With over 140,000 research articles, 50,000 images and thousands of news videos — covering science, health, technology and the environment — there is something for everyone on ScienceDaily.
Updated several times a day with breaking news and feature articles, seven days a week, the site covers discoveries in all fields of the physical, biological, earth and applied sciences. Stories are integrated with photographs and illustrations, links to journals and academic studies, related research and topics, encyclopedia articles, and videos, to provide a wealth of relevant information on almost every science topic imaginable – from astrophysics to zoology. And thanks to a custom search function, readers can do their own research using the site’s extensive archive of stories, topics, articles, videos, and images.
ScienceDaily is best known for showcasing the top science news stories from the world’s leading universities and research organizations. These stories are selected from among dozens of press releases and other materials submitted to ScienceDaily every day, and then edited to ensure high quality and relevance. Universities have come to rely on ScienceDaily to spread news about their scientists’ findings to a wider audience. And through ScienceDaily’s email newsletters and RSS newsfeeds (offered freely to both commercial and non-commercial web sites as well as individuals), news about these important discoveries is further amplified.
Over the past 20 years, ScienceDaily has been linked to by thousands of schools and universities, professional associations and research organizations, reference sources and other information authorities, newspapers, magazines and other news services, and increasingly bloggers and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. ScienceDaily enjoys high rankings with popular web search engines such as Google and Yahoo for hundreds of scientifically important keywords, including the word “science” for which the site comes up in typically the top three search results.
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How Technology Is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus
The Huffington Post – By Doctor Jim Taylor
Thinking. The capacity to reflect, reason and draw conclusions based on our experiences, knowledge and insights. It’s what makes us human and has enabled us to communicate, create, build, advance and become civilized. Thinking encompasses so many aspects of who our children are and what they do, from observing, learning, remembering, questioning and judging to innovating, arguing, deciding and acting.
There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, advantageous and detrimental. The uncertain reality is that, with this new technological frontier in its infancy and developments emerging at a rapid pace, we have neither the benefit of historical hindsight nor the time to ponder or examine the value and cost of these advancements in terms of how it influences our children’s ability to think.
There is, however, a growing body of research that technology can be both beneficial and harmful to different ways in which children think. Moreover, this influence isn’t just affecting children on the surface of their thinking. Rather, because their brains are still developing and malleable, frequent exposure by so-called digital natives to technology is actually wiring the brain in ways very different than in previous generations. What is clear is that, as with advances throughout history, the technology that is available determines how our brains develops. For example, as the technology writer Nicholas Carr has observed, the emergence of reading encouraged our brains to be focused and imaginative. In contrast, the rise of the Internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently.
The effects of technology on children are complicated, with both benefits and costs. Whether technology helps or hurts in the development of your children’s thinking depends on what specific technology is used and how and what frequency it is used. At least early in their lives, the power to dictate your children’s relationship with technology and, as a result, its influence on them, from synaptic activity to conscious thought.
Over the next several weeks, I’m going to focus on the areas in which the latest thinking and research has shown technology to have the greatest influence on how children think: attention, information overload, decision making and memory/learning. Importantly, all of these areas are ones in which you can have a counteracting influence on how technology affects your children.
You can think of attention as the gateway to thinking. Without it, other aspects of thinking — namely, perception, memory, language, learning, creativity, reasoning, problem solving and decision making — are greatly diminished or can’t occur at all. The ability of your children to learn to focus effectively and consistently lays the foundation for almost all aspects of their growth and is fundamental to their development into successful and happy people.
Attention has been found to be a highly malleable quality and most directly influenced by the environment in which it is used. This selective attention can be found in the animal kingdom in which different species develop attentional skills that help them function and survive. For example, wolves, lions, tigers and other predators have highly tuned visual attention that enables them to spot and track their prey. In contract, their prey, including deer and antelope, have well-developed auditory attention that allows them to hear approaching predators. In both cases, animals’ attentional abilities have developed based on the environment in which they live.
The same holds true for human development. Whether infant recognition of their parents’ faces or students paying attention in class, children’s immediate environment determines the kind of attention that they develop. In generations past, for example, children directed considerable amounts of their time to reading, an activity that offered few distractions and required intense and sustained attention, imagination, and memory. The advent of television altered that attention by offering children visual stimuli, fragmented attention and little need for imagination. Then the Internet was invented and children were thrust into a vastly different environment in which, because distraction is the norm, consistent attention is impossible, imagination is unnecessary and memory is inhibited.
Technology conditions the brain to pay attention to information very differently than reading. The metaphor that Nicholas Carr uses is the difference between scuba diving and jet skiing. Book reading is like scuba diving; the diver is submerged in a quiet, visually restricted, slow-paced setting with few distractions and, as a result, is required to focus narrowly and think deeply on the limited information that is available to them. In contrast, using the Internet is like jet skiing, in which the jet skier is skimming along the surface of the water at high speed, exposed to a broad vista, surrounded by many distractions and only able to focus fleetingly on any one thing.
In fact, studies have shown that reading uninterrupted text results in faster completion and better understanding, recall and learning than those who read text filled with hyperlinks and ads. Those who read a text-only version of a presentation, as compared to one that included video, found the presentation to be more engaging, informative and entertaining, a finding contrary to conventional wisdom, to be sure. Additionally, contrary to conventional educational wisdom, students who were allowed Internet access during class didn’t recall the lecture nor did they perform as well on a test of the material as those who weren’t “wired” during class. Finally, reading develops reflection, critical thinking, problem solving and vocabulary better than visual media.
Exposure to technology isn’t all bad. Research shows that, for example, video games and other screen media improve visual-spatial capabilities, increase attentional ability, reaction times and the capacity to identify details among clutter. Also, rather than making children stupid, it may just be making them different. For example, the ubiquitous use of Internet search engines is causing children to become less adept at remembering things and more skilled at remembering where to find things. Given the ease with which information can be find these days, it only stands to reason that knowing where to look is becoming more important for children than actually knowing something. Not having to retain information in our brain may allow it to engage in more “higher-order” processing such as contemplation, critical thinking and problem solving.
What does all this mean for raising your children? The bottom line is that too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games and good old unstructured and imaginative play will result in your children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology.
11 Ways Your Kids Learn Using Technology
Technology, says Larry Berger, executive director of Wireless Generation, is becoming more social, adaptive, and customized, and as a result it can be an amazing teaching tool. Now, programs are connecting kids in online learning communities, tracking kids’ progress through lessons and games, and customizing each students’ experience. So, before you press the off button, consider these eleven ways that you can maximize your child’s technology time at home and at school.
Learning with Technology at Home
Whether you’re passing back your touch-screen phone to your child, or your toddlers’ preferred playtime is at the computer, here are eight ways to make sure your child’s experiences with technology are educational and fun.
- Focus on Active Engagement Any time your child is engaged with a screen, says Shelley Pasnik, director of the Center for Children and Technology, ask questions. Stop a program, or mute the commercials, and ask engaging questions. What was that character thinking? Why did Clifford do that? What would you have done in that situation?
- Allow for Repetition DVDs and YouTube videos add an essential ingredient for young minds: repetition. Allow your young child to watch the same video over and over, and ask him what he noticed after each viewing.
- Make it Tactile Unlike computers that require a mouse to manipulate objects on the screen, new tablet computers allow kids manipulate “physical” objects with their fingers. Hands-on apps, like Montessorium, are good for young, tactile learners.
- Practice Problem Solving An emerging category of games will force your child to solve problems as he plays, building concentration and analytical skills in the process. Berger recommends games that kids have to figure out, such as Max and the Magic Marker or Crayon Physics. If your child is stuck, encourage him to find new ways to approach the problem.
- Encourage Creation Use technology for creation, not just entertainment. “Kids have so few opportunities to express their will or make choices,” says Pasnik. Let your child record a story on your iPod, or sing a song into your video game system. Then, create a totally new sound using the playback options, slow down and speed up her voice and add different backgrounds and beats until she’s created something uniquely her.
- Show Him How to Use It Many computer games have different levels and young children may not know how to move up or change levels. If your child is stuck on one level that’s become too easy, ask if he knows how to move up and help him if he wants more of a challenge.
- Ask Why If your child is using an app or game the “wrong” way, always pressing the incorrect button, for example, ask her why. It may be that she likes hearing the noise the game makes when she gets the question wrong, or she might be stuck and can’t figure out which group of objects match number four.
- Focus on Play Young kids should be exploring and playing with technology. “Bring a spirit of play,” says Pasnik, “rather than a focus on drilling skills.”
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Technology In the Classroom
Find more information on U.S. News Education webpage
The proliferation of social media and technology has changed the way educators teach, how students learn, and the way teachers and students communicate. Discover how technology is shaping high school and college classrooms around the country.
Study: Emerging Technology Has Positive Impact in Classroom
“They wanted so much more time in the classroom to work on problems,” Roshan says.
To meet the needs of her students, Roshan made radical changes to her lesson plans. Using Camtasia Studio, a screen recording and video editing program, Roshan uploaded her lectures to iTunes and assigned them as homework. “We’ve kind of reversed the whole dynamic of the class,” she says. “Instead of lecturing in class, I lecture to them when they’re at home, and we work problems together [in the classroom]. I liken it to an English classroom where the kids go home and do the reading and then they come into class and have this lively, engaging discussion.”
Taught with the video lectures, Roshan’s students in the 2010-11 school year scored an average of 4.11 on the AP calculus test, compared to the 3.59 average among her students who took the test and were taught in the traditional classroom setting the year before. And a third of the class—a 10 percent increase from the previous year—scored a 5, the highest score a student can achieve on an AP test.
Jim Tracy, headmaster at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., sees the “process of technology coming into the classroom as inevitable.” Under Tracy’s watch, Cushing has provided an interactive whiteboard in every class and wifi access across the high school’s campus for students to use laptops and tablets. Perhaps most noteworthy, however, is Cushing’s implementation of an all-digital library.
“We were able to offer our students a library that was anywhere on campus where they were,” Tracy notes. “For the same amount of money you would pay for a few thousand books on a shelf, you could have access to digital databases that give students access to literally millions of sources.”
Working with a larger budget gives a school system more freedom and flexibility to purchase new tools and technology to use in the classroom. According to the study by CompTIA, 27 percent of K-12 educators believe obstacles, such as budgetary restraints, will make the adoption of new technology more difficult during the next 12 months. Respondents to the survey were instituted at schools with operating budgets ranging from less than $5 million to more than $100 million.
Tracy notes that, while having the luxury of a larger budget, Cushing’s goal is to provide a technological guide for public schools. “Everything we try to do is designed to be an experiment,” he says. “If it’s successful, it’s designed to be replicable in the public schools.”
For a public school district, such as the Chicago Public Schools, budget concerns “are always an issue,” says Talha Basit, the client computer service manager at CPS. Though there are more than 400,000 students among 675 schools, only about 100,000 computers and 5,000 iPads are available for student use.
CPS made iPads available through a grant process in which teachers had to apply for the technology and articulate how the tool would be used in their lesson plans. Using a management program called Absolute Manage MDM, Basit was able to track and oversee the usage of the tablets during the school year. “You can’t just hand out iPads just for professional development or training for the teachers,” Basit notes. “If you have the teachers who are motivated and know how to use a tool, we’ve seen some good results.”
Basit says the jury is still out on test score improvements, but that the schools have seen improved attendance and a lot more enthusiasm from students. “The kids are eating this stuff up,” he says.
While many educators have expressed goodwill toward the use of technology in the classroom, others are resistant to change. According to the study, 17 percent of respondents stated that purchasing new technology provides little benefit for students or instructors.
Kristen House, a former instructor at Belmont University and founder of A Novel Idea, a novel-writing workshop for middle school and high school students, believes that any school with a limited budget should be spending the money on training teachers. “As educators, we’re expected to do so much with so very little,” House says. “And instead of sitting down and getting to the root of the issue, which is the [student], we throw gadgets at the problem.”
Cushing Academy’s Tracy believes that educators who are against the implementation of technology in the classroom are fighting a losing battle. “Students inhabit a 21st century world for 18 hours a day,” Tracy says. “And, all too often, educators put them in a 19th century classroom for six hours of that day, and the students feel a tremendous disconnect. We have a responsibility to teach them the skills to optimize these tools.”
With the implementation of technology being such a popular topic in high school, Bullis School’s Roshan—who plans to introduce iPads into her AP calculus class next school year—suggests teachers stick with what makes them the most comfortable. “I don’t think that your material ever gets old if you’re delivering it effectively,”she says.
Enjoy fun science games for kids while learning more about science and technology. There’s a range of free online activities to try with something for everyone whether you’re interested in animals, plants, chemistry, biology, physics, space, magnets, electricity, forces, light, sounds, gases or other science related topics. Put yourself to the test by trying to complete as many of the interactive challenges as you can, the games start off easy but will be fully testing your technology skills and understanding of the science behind the game in no time.
Have fun learning online with these cool science games. It’s free and easy to use so just scroll down the page, find a game you like the look of and give it a go!