Like I mentioned in the previous post, the CES show next week promises to reveal a slew of new android tablets and phones, so we’ll see what is announced (and what is actually released).
Here are some android tips & resources I’ve run across in the past year:
- How to root the Droid (the first droid)
- How to root the NookColor
- How to read library e-books on an android tablet – right now the only official way is to use Adobe Digital Editions (ADE, which only runs on windows or mac) and use a device that ADE supports, such as the NookColor or Pocket Edge. Here’s an ADE video tutorial.
- If you’ve got an older android phone or tablet with only a few screens, I’d recommend LauncherPro or a similar app to improve your home screens. See this comparison between LauncherPro and other options like ADWLauncher.
- Keeping up with android news: See this twitter list for various sources like androidcentral: http://twitter.com/#!/edtechdev/android
- Places to find recommended, popular apps
- Open source apps – see these lists of open source apps and open source games (you’ll have to google to find the actual source though).
- Android development
Some free educational apps:
- X Construction Lite – bridge building game
- Google Sky Map – shows the names of stars, planets, constellations that you point at, using the accelerometer and compass
- There are apps or android-friendly mobile front-ends for Blackboard (requires university subscription) and Moodle (see also http://mle.sourceforge.net/ and http://code.google.com/p/moodbile/)
- Video podcasting is possible with apps from Qik or Ustream viewer or broadcaster
- Physics: space physics lite, space simulator, physics calculator
- Musical instruments: mypiano, guitar solo lite
- Programming: IProgram, scripting layer for android, ruboto
- Various math practice apps like Math Workshop or Math Attack
- Of course there are all the e-book reader apps such as Aldiko, Nook, Kindle, …
- See also AppBrain’s education section and this list of 101 best android apps in education
- See also the IEAR site for many educational apps, but they are mostly iphone/ipad apps at this point.
Some free games:
- angry birds, of course
- hungry shark
- falling ball
- hit the penguin
- air attack
- my paper airplane
- toss it
- winds of steel
- flying high
I guess I never blogged this before, but I keep seeing references to the 10 year old distinction between digital natives vs. digital immigrants as it relates to educational technology. This is the idea that “kids today” are born in a digital world and have their brains wired differently than us old fogeys. The “single biggest problem facing education today” is that teachers, being digital immigrants, don’t know how to teach digital native kids, who want nothing but video games and so forth.
Quite a lot has been written about how this idea isn’t really substantiated. At the very least, the distinction is quickly growing irrelevant. Unfortunately, the idea is still uncritically accepted even in some journal articles, and perhaps used as an excuse or crutch too often for poor or ineffective teaching practices. The result may be a self-fulfilling prophecy, but for teachers, not students. We currently teach pre-service and in-service teachers less technology skills than we do middle schoolers and high schoolers, perhaps because of an implicit belief that adults can’t handle anything more than powerpoint or a basic HTML page.
Anyway, here are some references to criticisms of the idea you can point people to if it ever comes up:
- Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation – by Jamie McKenzie – the most scathing criticism
- Net Gen Skeptic – a whole blog devoted to the topic
- Some blog posts expressing disagreement with the distinction:
- Some journal/conference papers:
- The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence – “the debate can be likened to an academic form of a ‘moral panic’.”
- Immigrants and natives: Investigating differences between staff and students’ use of technology – “These findings support a growing evidence base that, while some differences exist, the ‘digital divide’ between students and staff is not nearly as large as some commentators would have us believe.”
- The ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’: a dangerous opposition – “empirical data is emerging which questions some of the blanket claims made in the growing body of literature which takes the native/immigrant binary as its starting point.”
- Is There a Net Gener in the House? Dispelling a Mystification – “This essay represents both a critical analysis of such allegations and assumptions.” Here is a longer version of this essay by Rolf Schulmeister in German: http://www.zhw.uni-hamburg.de/uploads/schulmeister_net-generation_v3.pdf
- Is there a Net generation coming to university? – “making use of new technologies but in ways that did not fully correspond with many of the expectations built into the Net generation and Digital Natives theses.”
- [update] Digital natives: where is the evidence? - “generation is only one of the predictors of advanced interaction with the Internet. Breadth of use, experience, gender and educational levels are also important, indeed in some cases more important than generational differences”
- [update] Guo, R. X., Dobson, T. & Petrina, S. (2008). Digital natives, digital immigrants: An analysis of age and ICT competency in teacher education. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 38(3), 235-254. “Findings from this study show that there was not a statistically significant difference with respect to ICT competence among different age groups for either pre-program or post-program surveys. This study implies that the digital divide thought to exist between “native” and “immigrant” users may be misleading, distracting education researchers from more careful consideration of the diversity of ICT users and the nuances of their ICT competencies.”
Even Marc Prensky, who came up with the digital natives / immigrants distinction, wrote last year that it is at the very least growing less relevant. [thanks to Antonella Esposito for two of the refs]
Update December 2010 – some new references:
- College Students on the Web – Jakob Nielsen, usability guru, debunks myths about students’ use of technology
- Learning, the Net Generation and Digital Natives – special issue of the journal Learning, Media, and Technology
- Deconstructing Digital Natives: Young People, Technology, and the New Literacies – a book on the topic forthcoming in 2011
- Some recent educational books – posted to the Learning Sciences & Educational Technology group
- GameMaker 8 and Wonderland 0.5 have released preview versions
- Learn 4 Life wrote a great summary of educators using the OpenSim virtual world and ReactionGrid (opensim hosting). Linden Lab has been upsetting some educators recently.
- The National Research Council’s Committee for Learning Science held a recent workshop on Computer Games, Simulations, and Education, with a few commissioned papers posted.
- This computerworld article summarizes Sony’s new Library Finder site that lets you find e-books that you can check out from your local library for free. See also this pcworld comparison of Amazon Kindle and Sony E-Reader
- WizBang is an open source drag and drop procedure builder – that exports to Java, C++, Python, etc.
- Some interesting articles:
- Nice post-mortem article on the development of Wolfquest, an educational 3d game that lets you live the life of a wolf. Another more general article discusses the challenges of online game development for education.
- The Art of Writing Proposals
- Real Lives and White Lies in the Funding of Scientific Research
- Keith Taber wrote a nice review and history of constructivism (pdf)
- Some papers on reality-based interaction – HCI in the post-WIMP world (window-icon-menu-pointer), such as tangible interfaces, gestural input devices, etc.
- An overview of conceptual change theories (pdf) – published in an open access journal
- Insidious pedagogy: How course management systems affect teaching
- LMS evaluation reports by universities: Moodle vs. Blackboard vs. Sakai, etc.
- Some new wikis: New Media Literacies Wiki, Perceptual learning wiki
- Some new kids’ sites (mostly via kids-software.com): Kideos – videos for children from Youtube, KidZui – child-friendly Firefox add-on, Site with many physics games, kids online paint and draw activity, description of Scribblenauts, a new interesting Nintendo DS game
Congratulations to David Wiley and my other colleagues here at Utah State University on getting approval to start a new virtual high school, the Open High School of Utah, which will solely employ openly licensed educational resources. See the announcement here. They are just getting off the ground, but they have a website, their charter application materials, and a wiki available online. In related news, the Open Education Conference, held here at USU every year, has released a call for papers for this year’s conference in September.
These are from my bookmarks on del.icio.us:
- Software / Technology
- Quick-R is a help site for those using the R statistics tool instead of SPSS/SAS.
- Hippocampus is a homework and study help site with multimedia resources and course materials.
- Road Ready Teens is a program that includes a free driving videogame. See this article.
- First look at Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron – the nest version of Ubuntu due out soon
- A report on open source video editing in Linux.
- Skype 2.0 for Linux has been released.
- New Classroom-Friendly Mini-Notebooks from HP
- Another great video on using and developing 3D educational worlds with Edusim in (Croquet-based) Cobalt. Here is more info on the Croquet-based Cobalt application used, and see also this tutorial for building a simple world in Croquet by Matt Schmidt.
- A video preview of Alice 3.0, the 3D programming environment
- Bionic Arduino – incredible course/workshop on creative uses for the Arduino microcontroller board.
- Adobe Photoshop Express Online – an online version of the image editor. I haven’t tested to see if it is any better than Picnik or other editors.
- More info on the next version of Java (update 10) and the new java plugin. See the article: Are Applets Back?
- OpenOffice.org and MS Excel: What’s the Difference? – There are some little differences that may get you, especially the use of semicolons instead of commas for passing parameters to functions. You get a cryptic “#NAME?” error if you use commas.
- Mahara 1.0 has been released – an open source electronic portfolio tool that integrates with Moodle
- On the quest for better screencasts – an interesting idea to make screencasts searchable and seekable via subtitles
- An overview of the samples that come with the Netbeans Java IDE.
- Amberjack is a free tool for creating guided tours of one or more websites.
- A new pdf book on the Scala programming language that runs on the java platform: Scala by Example
- Yahoo Announces Open Search Platform – Google discontinued their API for using their search engine from 3rd party apps long ago, so this is welcome.
- The Best Tools for Visualization
- DJ NativeSwing: JWebBrowser, JFlashPlayer, JVLCPlayer, JHTMLEditor
- Sites / Articles
- The call for papers for the 2008 Open Education Conference has been released. The submission deadline is May 30th.
- Multimedia Authoring Tools: The Quest for an Educational Package
- Video Research in Education describes a free pdf report from NSF on using video in educational research, which also was the basis for the book video research in the learning sciences.
- Grounded and Transferable Knowledge of Complex Systems Using Computer Simulations with links to the netlogo models used
- States’ Data Obscure How Few Finish High School
- Celebrating Seymour (Papert) – an article by David Shaffer on Seymour Papert’s legacy
- Numbers Guy: Stanislas Dehaene and Number Sense
- So Much for the Information Age – an interesting commentary at chronicle.com
- Educational Technology Magazine (pdf) special issue on open education resources
- The Truth According To Wikipedia – a video commentary on Wikipedia (via Larry Sanger)
- Becta Emerging Technologies for Learning Report
- A MacArthur series on Digital Young, Innovation, and the Unexpected
- An interesting article on Places to intervene in a system
- Multimodal Learning Through Media: What the Research Says – another positive lit review from the metiri group
- Cognitive Phenomenology: Marriage of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science
- Computational Thinking and Thinking About Computing – presentation with interesting examples of computing in everyday life by Jeannette Wing
- Computer Science Enrollment is Going Down
- From Java Platform Improvements to Better Teaching
- Robotic drumstick keeps novices on the beat
- The proceedings of the Tangible and Embedded Interaction Conference have been made available. See also the Symposium on Haptic Interfaces.
- Fritzing – a physical prototyping tool
The small Eee PC Laptop has taken off over the past 6 months, selling hundreds of thousands. There is an EeeUser site for tracking the latest developments along with a custom EeeXubuntu Linux distribution you can install instead of the default one.
Now there is a new micro laptop coming out called the Noahpad. There are some videos about it on youtube. Not surprisingly, they are not solid about what the price will be. They claim it will be in the same range as the EeePC, which means $500 or less. But the Noahpad has quite a bit more than the EeePC – the display can be turned around (like with a tablet pc), it uses a hard drive instead of a flash drive, and it looks like it has a bigger keyboard to use than the EeePC (better for adults). The keyboard is really two big touchpads. The right touchpad acts like a regular touchpad, moving the mouse. The left touchpad moves the screen real estate around. It has a 7 inch screen like the EeePC, but it uses a virtual 10 inch display with 1024×768 resolution that you can scroll around in using that left touchpad. Since you can turn the display around like a tablet pc, it can also act as a digital photo frame or multimedia player. It also comes with a shoulder strap, which alone might save quite a few accidents. Of course the EeePC and XO laptops are built to handle being dropped occasionally – it remains to be seen how sturdy and reliable the Noahpad will be.
There are some amazing electronic toys and computers for toddlers and preschoolers now, from Leapfrog, V.Tech and the like. And the kids are loving every bit of it (see “For Toddlers, Toy of Choice Is Tech Device“). These toys tend to be very expensive though, and sometimes it seems a bit ridiculous to pay for things like an “Internet Launch Pad” (Fisher-Price) when you can access websites for free, or a kid-friendly digital camera that has a lower image resolution than digital cameras from 5 years ago. So here are some other ideas, too, for kids which may cost you nothing, but kids still love them.
- Web-based Games. As I mentioned a year ago, there are some fantastic online educational gaming sites for kids out there which cost nothing, including PBS Kids, Playhouse Disney, The Wiggles, Thomas the Tank Engine, NickJr, UpToTen, and Noggin. You might want to bookmark some of these sites on the favorites toolbar.
- Youtube for Kids. Search for videos your child may be interested in watching, such as Thomas the Tank Engine videos on Youtube. Our little one likes these user-created videos better than the real ones. Definitely supervise young children here as this isn’t a site designed for children.
- Give Away Your Old Digital Camera. They are making digital cameras for kids now, but I’ve noticed they are 1) still pretty expensive (>$75) and 2) have a much lower image resolution than normal digital cameras (i.e. less than 2 megapixels). We have an old camera that would be virtually worthless on ebay, but our little one loves it. And, like the ‘hole in the wall’ example of kids in India learning how to use a computer on their own, young kids can pick up the basics on taking and reviewing pictures pretty quickly.
- Run the XO Laptop on Your PC for free. Wolfgang Rohrmoser and Kurt Gramlich recently announced a live cd version of the OLPC XO laptop software.
- Crank Radios/Flashlights. One other item – pretty much everyone is selling crank-driven flashlights & radios now. These serve two purposes, for using when the power goes out or there is an emergency, and also your child can play with them as much as they like and you never have to worry about the batteries going out.
The Wall Street Journal has a highly critical story on the One Laptop Per Child project entitled “A Little Laptop With Big Ambitions.” I’ll let you judge the story yourself, but here are a few reactions I have:
- The story never even mentions the Eee PC 701 laptop, which is selling like hotcakes (more on that below). The article only mentions at one point “a low-cost laptop made by Asustek Computer” (who are the manufacturers of the Eee PC). Unlike the OLPC laptop (until this past week) or Classmate PC (another low cost laptop project from Intel), anyone can buy an Eee PC. It was the #1 selling computer on Amazon up until Amazon ran out of stock recently.
- The story makes Nicholas Negroponte look really incompetent as head of the OLPC project. After his highly public complaints about Intel’s Classmate PC laptop in May on 60 minutes, Intel and OLPC seemingly made up and Intel is even on the OLPC board now. But as recently as this month, Negroponte “communicated this month with Intel…and demanded that Intel stop selling the Classmate.” That seems in conflict with Negroponte’s claim that “OLPC is not in the laptop business. It’s in the education business.” Negroponte apparently denies access to the OLPC laptop for testing if it is to be compared head to head with another laptop (like the Classmate). The Eee PC, for example, has around twice the specs as the OLPC laptop with regards to processing speed, flash drive space, and RAM. Negroponte also doesn’t seem to have a plan or response to those developing countries who want a laptop + some support for things like bugs fixes (OLPC has its own unique operating system) and laptop repair. The cost of the OLPC laptop keeps rising, from $100 to $188, and at the moment individuals have to pay $400 (‘give one get one’). Also the OLPC project has over $9 million cash on hand from donations, but it doesn’t appear they are using it to purchase and distribute thousands of laptops that amount of money could buy. Negroponte also seems to keep overstating the projected sales figures of the OLPC laptop. He claimed 6 months ago 3-5 million OLPC laptops would sell in 2007, and 150 million in 2008, and he even now is still predicting they will be making 1 million laptops a month next year. More on the actual sales numbers below. Right now, Quanta is producing a one time order of 300,000 OLPC laptops. And as I show below, that number seems to be the reason for OLPC’s recent extension of the 2 week ‘buy one give one’ program.
- A month ago, an Eee PC 701 laptop was selling every 6 seconds. That’s over 14,000 laptops a day. The OLPC laptop sold 45,000 laptops in its first nine days, with nearly half being sold on the first day. That means it is selling less than 3000 a day. Since 300,000 laptops are already being manufactured, perhaps that is why the OLPC project extended the selling window to December 31st, which would get them over the 100,000 laptops sold mark at least. The nice thing is that means 100,000 laptops will be given away, as well. The first 20,000 are going to Rwanda, but they too questioned who would fix them if they break – a question Negroponte finds “frightening.”
With the recent releases of the OLPC laptop, the Eee PC laptop, the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, and all the kid-friendly computers from manufacturers like Leapfrog, V.Tech, and Fisher Price, kids are now becoming computer literate at younger and younger ages. What if you let THEM design the machines, though? In this story about The Laptop Club, you can see kids’ designs out of construction paper. What is the most common feature you see in all their designs? A “Games” button. Compare that to the “View Source” button the OLPC project added instead. Other examples include a “Friends” button, a “Google” button, a “Math” button (presumably a calculator), and buttons for various things like Harry Potter & Webkinz pets [via Dennis Jerz].
After reading a piece by Gary Stager criticizing hype over web 2.0 in education and contrasting it to the Logo movement (which was guided more by a centralized educational philosophy than web 2.0), I got around to digging up and re-posting an old wiki page of mine with readings related to the history and debate about the use of the Logo programming language in education. The page is entitled Turtle on Trial and has some readings for and against the use and effectiveness of Logo. I like the great debates and controversies in educational and cognitive psychology research. I think they make for great course nuggets and also are important to remember so that we can build off of, rather than repeat, history. If you know of any other important debates or controversies in educational r&d, feel free to comment here or add them to this educational research wiki. Here are some other existing resources on the wiki:
- Journals – a list of about 100 educational and psychological research journals with RSS feeds
- Jobs – a list of places to find jobs related to educational technology
- Citation Management – a list of free tools you can use to manage your citations. Zotero has been very actively making improvements to their firefox extension.
- Data Analysis Software – including the free R tool
- The Effects of Media on Learning – another example “debate” that recently was stirred up again with the release of a government report showing no benefits from educational software
- Textbooks – some free and online textbooks related to education
- Conferences – where to find conferences happening this year (stub page)
- Writing Grant Proposals – I just started this stub page with a few NSF links so far.
- Video Analysis Software