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In the not too distant future, wearable technology will extend beyond gadgets. Gadgets such as the Fitbit help users to track their calorie intake, monitor heart rate and capture several other key biometrics. These somewhat clunky devices are worn on the wrist like a watch. They are quite conspicuous and can sometimes get in the way of everyday activities. How much freedom would they provide if such devices were instead embedded in the fabric of our clothing? A camera in your shirt button? Vibrating jewellery that signals a text received? Responsive fabric that lights up in the dark? Shoes that interact directly with the surface you walk upon?
Breakthroughs in clothing design and fabric technology development have already brought us the first connected garments. Clothing that connects to the Internet means that wherever you go, you take your computer technology with you. Smart clothing is an extension of wearable devices - which up until now have belonged almost exclusively to the well-being/health sector.
The Internet of Things, when it arrives (and some would claim it is already here) will introduce a new global digital infrastructure that features, among other things, ubiquitous sensors. Sensors in clothing is a natural extension of that idea. What you wear will interact with your environment and with others around you. Conductive thread, e-textiles, LEDs and other fabric developments mean that our clothing in the future would be able to communicate directly with the Internet, and would respond to a number of internal and external prompts. The video below discusses smart clothing - fashion and functionality. Whether we would like to wear clothing that changes colour to signal our emotions to the world is another matter.
More importantly, how will educators exploit the potential of these new garments? How will schools and universities leverage the potential of smart clothing? I predict this will be slow in coming, because education systems are notoriously conservative. Administrators will be cautious about 'privacy issues', and misuse and will express concerns about security of data. Cautionary tales will be reported in the media. Parents will protest and schools will ban. Maverick educators will take a different approach. Here and there, the lone rangers among our ranks will take risks to explore the potential of smart clothing and other wearable devices. Positive deviants will experiment to see how they might use smart clothing and other wearables to enhance learning experiences.
As I said at the start of this article, we can't accurately predict our future, but it will be different from anything we have previously experienced.
Photo from Health Informatics Wikispace
Previous posts in this series
Our Digital Future 1: Gazing down the corridor
Our digital future 2: Smart clothing by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.Posted by Steve Wheeler from Learning with e's
Victor Papanek begins his book, published in 1971, with the words “All men are designers”. By this, Papanek means that an element of design is involved in almost everything people do. Design is the basis of all human activity. The fact that Papanek himself was an industrial designer gives more weight to his words, even if his statement can be considered self-evident. This includes the idea that each and every one of us is capable of designing products, for ourselves or our loved ones.
A high-quality product is not considered a status symbol, but a means of leading a good life.
It is often thought that Finnish design is reflected in the durability and timelessness of its products. We believe that buying high-quality products is more economical, even at a higher price, than creating inferior quality for less. High-quality products are cheaper in the long run. Due to industrial production, high-quality products are viewed as a universal entitlement. A high-quality product is not considered a status symbol, but a means of leading a good life. Industrialisation is viewed as having democratised design products. This can be considered the first wave of the democratisation of design.
Design is a peculiar word. Where Papanek refers to design as an activity, as something that produces a plan, new product or service, in Finland the word tends to take on its second meaning – that of a finished product. When we talk about design, we often refer to a high-quality product, not the underlying process. This is probably partly rooted in the honourable history of Finnish design and architecture. We are well aware of what good design, or a high-quality product, means.
Three phenomena are rapidly changing our society and its economy and culture: (1) the Internet-based network; (2) growing computing capacity; and (3) robotics.
Design too is being challenged by the post-industrial and global network society. In new products and services based on digital technologies, such as Uber, Airbnb, Facebook and Wikipedia, design has been the key to hyper-success. These design products of our time are successful combinations of an enjoyable user and service experience, to which aesthetic values have been added. The key element, however, is the user’s experience of using the service together with other people, and the service experience thereby generated. The design and development of such services requires seamless collaboration between multi-professional teams.
Three phenomena are rapidly changing our society and its economy and culture: (1) the Internet-based network; (2) growing computing capacity; and (3) robotics. The above services are mainly based on the first two elements, but each of them is also flirting seriously with robotics. Major future products and services will probably be based on a smart combination of these three phenomena.
What will this mean for design if we consider it as an activity in the way Papanek did? It is easy to foresee product design in particular becoming more democratic as the impact of the above-mentioned phenomena accumulates. Increasing numbers of people can design products themselves using tools such as 3D software (growing computing capacity), can share activities and learn from others (Internet network) and manufacture products independently (robotics) without expensive investments in production facilities.
When the service experience is based on a network, it makes sense to include all network operators in the design of the service.
Alongside industrial products, at both a superficial and deeper level design is also becoming more democratic in terms of services. The services described above represent superficial, democratic design. Uber and Airbnb are networks that rely on car and house owners. The people with whom these companies have established a new kind of contractual relationship constitute one of the cores of their design service. The service experience provided by these companies is dependent on car and house owners, and their drivers and caretakers. When the service experience is based on a network, it makes sense to include all network operators in the design of the service.
Similarly, Facebook and Wikipedia are dependent on their own users, who create the value added provided by the service. In these examples, too, power accrues to the users, although this is often in the form of faceless swarm intelligence that service providers cannot ignore if they want to remain competitive. Wikipedia, in particular, can be primarily defined as a community which has developed a novel operating model and complex and multi-level design method for implementing its goal of producing and disseminating information for all people in the world.
. . . the key issue is, once again, how they apply contemporary phenomena, i.e. the Internet-based network, growing computing capacity, and robotics. The cleverest democratic design groups use all of them in their own activities and the services they are collaboratively designing.
On the other hand, the so-called deep-level democratisation of design can be seen in services such as those that rely on novel social peer networks, and the reorganisation of public space and public services. Restaurant Day, Cleaning Day and Time Banks are examples of services that have been developed by active communities. The broader dispersal, in recent years, of urban planning towards ordinary citizens and away from professionals, political decision-makers and various interest groups is another example of the democratisation of design. In recent years, public service provision has been developed through collaborative processes, while exploring how services might also be produced on this basis. In all of the above examples, the key issue is, once again, how they apply contemporary phenomena, i.e. the Internet-based network, growing computing capacity, and robotics. The cleverest democratic design groups use all of them in their own activities and the services they are collaboratively designing.
. . . all of us act as designers providing products and services for one another.
In other words, it looks as though Papanek’s statement that all men are designers is coming true. The first wave of the democratisation of design, or the provision of high-quality products and services for everyone, is blending into the second wave, where all of us act as designers providing products and services for one another. We need to keep both traditions alive and capable of reinventing themselves.
Postscript 1: This text was originally published in Esko Kilpi’s book Perspectives on new work (Sitra Studies 114). The book is available as PDF. If you want to make a reference to this text, it goes like this:
Leinonen, T. (2016): The democratisation of design. In Esko Kilpi (Ed.) Perspectives on new work. Sitra Studies 114, Helsinki, Finland.
Postscript 2: When writing this I didn’t think precisely education but you may easily think how the democratisation of design applies to education. The first wave of democratisation of education was the idea of Volksschule, the compulsory education described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1946) Article 26 as follows: ”Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory”. Right now we are potentially living the second wave of democratisation of education. What is it? Maybe this is a topic for another blog post.
The supposedly retired Tony Bates has authored another e-book, this one an introductoon to online learning for beginners. Here are the contents:
- What is online learning?
- Isn’ t online learning worse than face-to-face teaching?
- Aren’ t MOOCs online learning?
- What kinds of online learning are there?
- When should I use online learning?
- How do I start?
- Why not just record my lectures?
- Won’ t online learning be more work?
- How can I do online learning well?
- Ready to Go
As usual the result is required reading.[Link] [Comment]
Alan Levine, being more thorough than I, discovered that if you click on 'Events' on your Live Streaming Dashboard, (right under 'Stream Now') you can run your Hangout on Air (aka Live Event) - look for the subtle 'New Event' button in the upper right of the page. Google usability engineers hate you. So you don't need the streaming media encoder. But I'll be honest - after having used the encoder, I really prefer it (though of course none of this works particularly well on my laptop). In the future somewhere is a world where we can use a media encoder of our choice and a cloud service of our choice to host live video events without Google or any of the rest of them. But we're not there yet. OK, now to see if I can hack using Martin Hawksey’ s genius script for an auto updated twitter archive to use something other than Twitter.[Link] [Comment]
John Spencer, Aug 23, 2016
A pedagogy based on student choice isn't just some myth that is talked about but never seen in reality. It's actually out there. John Spencer offers some practical advice to those working with choice. "Student choice goes beyond simply picking an item out of a menu. It’ s about self-directed students taking charge of their own learning." And, importantly, you have to model it. " They need a vision for how it can look and you, as the teacher, can provide that to them by modeling. Sometimes you will have to give permission when you assume they already know it. Sometimes you will have to model the metacognition needed in self-assessment."[Link] [Comment]
Google, Aug 23, 2016
I don't have any talks scheduled for a few months (the world has finally tired of me!) but I'm getting set up to replace Hangout on Air with YouTibe Live just in case. What I discovered is that to use YouTube Live you have to use a stand-alone video streaming application (this is really similar to the way to send live audio to Shoutcast, so I was pretty comfortable with it). From the list of applications on this page I tried xSplit, which took a but to figure out but which worked beautifully once it was up and running (the audio was beautiful; it could really take advantage of my nice audio-technic mic). If you do any webcasting, take the time to get this figured out now - you won't be able to get it running in five minutes before your webcast.[Link] [Comment]
What's interesting about Musical.ly is that it grew out of a failed ed tech startup. Musical.ly allows users to lipsync to popular videos and share the results with friends. It draws from a catalogue of several million songs. The original ed tech application was a device that enabled users to create five-minute videos explaining a concept or practice. But it failed for a lack of experts. "The challenge is that there are not too many people who are able to explain knowledge in such a short period of time." This is interesting, but I guess not surprising. The authors took what they learned from the failed startup to create the new app. "If you're going to build a product that relies on user-generated content, it needs to be lightweight and capable of uploading content in minutes rather than hours."[Link] [Comment]
The answer to the question is that we need lighter and more basic operating systems to provide a common computing environment for small devices and larger computers. Even the Linux kernel is overloaded with functions that single-purpose devices don't need. As well, new applications need to respond on the thousandths of a second, an an operating system with a built-in scheduler creates the possibility of lag. The new operating system being developed by Google to meet these needs is called Fuchsia and has been distributed on GitHub and Google Git. More from The Verge, CNet, Pocket Lint, Engadget.[Link] [Comment]
The answer to this question is still mostly "no' but this business-focused article looks at some training scenarios - for example, a virtual “ hackathon” space using Microsoft's “ holoportation” technology. The article outlines a framework for evaluating the potential use of virtual reality (VR), "a model for analyzing dimensions of the learning need and how appropriate VR would be as a solution," with three dimensions: risk, sensory, and practice. "Seeing the world through another’ s eyes can be a deeply powerful emotional experience; and because the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic stimuli of a VR environment are so immersive, VR gets you very close indeed to truly seeing through someone else’ s eyes." See also this report about VR experiments at Stanford.[Link] [Comment]
This is a detailed tutorial describing how to set up your Amazon web services (AWS) account to do some big data analysis. What's more, it provides a glimpse into the world of cloud services. if you don't think computing has completely changed from the days when we launched websites with Apache and a CGI script, think again.[Link] [Comment]
There is a lot of speculation at the moment as to the jobs of the future. On the one hand, it is said that we are educating young people for jobs which do not yet exist; on the other hand there are dire predictions that up to of existing 55 per cent of jobs may disappear to automation in the next five years.
If it is hard as a researcher who works with labour market data to make sense of all this, imagine what it is like for young people trying to plan a career (and if doing a degree in the UK, running up major debt).
However, there is beginning to appear some more nuanced research on the future of jobs. Michael Chui, James Manyika, and Mehdi Miremadi have just published the initial report on a research project looking at how automation will affect future employment. The report, entitled ‘Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)’, is based on detailed analysis of 2,000-plus work activities for more than 800 occupations. Using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net, they have quantified both the amount of time spent on these activities across the economy of the United States and the technical feasibility of automating each of them.
Their overall finding is that while automation will eliminate very few occupations entirely in the next decade, it will affect portions of almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of work they entail.
Each whole occupation is made up of multiple types of activities, each with varying degrees of technical feasibility. In practice, they explain, automation will depend on more than just technical feasibility. Five factors are involved: technical feasibility, costs to automate, the relative scarcity, skills and costs of workers who might otherwise do the activity, benefits (e.g. superior performance) of automation beyond labour costs substitution and regulatory and social acceptance considerations.
The likelihood and ease of automation depends on the types of activities organised on a continuum of less susceptible to automation to more susceptible to automation: managing others, applying expertise, stakeholder interactions, unpredictable physical work, data collection, processing data, predictable physical work. Thus occupations like accommodation, food service and manufacturing which include a large amount of predictable physical work are likely to be automated, similarly work in finance and insurance which involves much processing of data. On the other hand jobs in construction and in agriculture which comprise predominantly unpredictable physical work are unlikely to be automated, at least at present. And there is good news for teachers: “the importance of human interaction is evident in two sectors that, so far, have a relatively low technical potential for automation: healthcare and education.”
This is the last in a series of ten blog posts aimed at those faculty and instructors in higher education new to online teaching or thinking of possibly doing it. The previous nine are:
- 6. How do I start?
- 8. Won’t online learning be more work?
If you have read all previous nine posts in this series, you should now be aware of the following:
- Online learning can be done well, or it can be done badly.
- Online learning is a professional activity, with evidence-based best practices. You need to be aware of these best practices if you want to succeed in your online teaching.
- There are certain conditions where online learning is likely to work, and others where it will be difficult to succeed.
- You need then to choose the appropriate mix of online and face-to-face learning, dependent on the context in which you are working.
- There are many different approaches and technologies that can be used in online learning. The best choices will depend on your specific learning context but you need to be aware of the choices.
- It is important to work with professional instructional designers and media producers if you want a high quality online course or program.
- The technology, and to a lesser extent, the pedagogy of online learning continues to evolve.
- Thus although, at least in the beginning, it is important to follow best past practices, you also need to be aware of new developments and the potential for innovation in your online teaching.
- Really, in the future, online learning will not be considered different or separate from ‘teaching’. It will be an integrated, normal component of all teaching.
- So you might as well get to learn to use it well as soon as possible. Start now!
Although I hope these posts have helped you decide to teach online, there is always more to learn. Therefore the following additional resources can contribute to your development as an online instructor.
- Read Teaching in a Digital Age. This free, online textbook is designed to help you develop the knowledge and skills your students will need in a digital age. It could be read from cover to cover, but it’s more likely to be useful as a resource to be dipped into as and when needed. The book covers:
- the types of knowledge and the skills students need in a digital age,
- how online learning can help develop these skills,
- different approaches to teaching online,
- how to decide on the right mix of online and face-to-face teaching,
- how to find and use open educational resources,
- how to choose between different media,
- nine steps to quality online learning,
- organizational requirements for effective online learning,
- how to creative an effective online learning environment.
- Take an online course on how to teach online. This will not only provide you with the knowledge and techniques you will need, but will also give you the experience of what it feels like to study online. Look for programs that allow you to take (and pay) for one course at a time, such as UBC’s Master in Educational Technology. For a list of online programs that will provide you with a good foundation for teaching online, see: Recommended graduate programs in e-learning.
- Follow regular online publications written in non-technical language aimed at those teaching online, such as:
- teachonline.ca from Contact North, Ontario, Canada (‘Pockets of Innovation’ is particularly useful)
- Flexible Learning, University of British Columbia, Canada (the case studies again are interesting)
- Frontiers from WCET (the Western Co-operative for Educational Technology, USA)
- EDUCAUSE Review (USA)
- JISC’s Online Learning Guides, U.K.
- Learning Design tool, from Australian Flexible Learning Network
- my own blog: Online Learning and Distance Education Resources contains over 2,000 posts on different issues in and resources for online learning – use the search box to search for specific topics.
- For a list of the main journals on research and development in online teaching, see: E-learning journals, and/or the American Association of Computers in Education’s LearnTechLib. I recommend particularly:
- IRRODL (International Review of Research on Open and Distance Learning): an open, online journal
- British Journal of Educational Technology
- Online Learning, the online journal of the Sloan-C Online Learning Consortium, USA
- At the risk of repeating myself, work with your local Centre for Teaching and Learning, or Centre for Learning Technologies, or Centre for Distance Education, and attend any faculty development workshops on online learning. There is more to learn all the time.
So good luck with your new adventure in teaching at least partly online.
If you have found this series useful, please pass it on to colleagues who you think may also benefit from it.
I’d also be interested in hearing from you of your experiences as newcomers to online teaching.
This was an interesting article. Based on research covering changes made by 160 UK academies put into remdiation a number of years ago, it recommends that several changes undertaken, crucially, in the right order offer the best chance of remediating schools. First, create the right environment at the top by improving governance (the article doesn't say how, exactly). Second, focus on student behaviour (the article recommends excluding misbehaving students). Finally, focus on teaching. It suggests more money will have to be spent in the short term to ensure resources are in place, and that schools teach the full age-range from 5 to 18. What is done with the administrators, teachers and students who don't make the grade is left as an exercise for the reader.[Link] [Comment]