What Could The Next Big Thing In Technology Be?

One larger thread in the conversations I have been in about the future of Apple without Steve Jobs centers on “what will the next big thing in technology be?” Jobs was responsible for so many game changers through the years that it is hard to imagine the technology world without him. But to be honest, there have been many game changers through the years from many non-Apple companies.

Will the next big thing be a fundamental re-design of a the phone as we know it? Tech crunch has an interesting article on a bendable phone that is controlled by kinetic movements as much as touch. An interesting concept even if you hate the shape (which some seem to – I kind of like it). Some think the phone will also become implanted in a pair pf glasses, with an interface that virtually floats in front of your eyes.

The bigger concept to realize is that the iPhone is not going to be the last major re-think of cell phones as we know them. Computers themselves may one day “disappear” as they become so small that we no longer notice their presence – just their interface.

I’m still thinking that 3-D printing will be a major game changer in ways that we can’t image yet. Think of how it could change online learning if you can email actual physical objects. Even face-to-face learning could be greatly enhanced by the ability to print objects. A spontaneous question from a student could be examined in a matter of minutes rather than waiting until the next day (after the teacher has had time to go home and find what is needed to answer the question).

Or will the mysterious Google X lab come up with something so crazy that we can’t even imagine the possibilities?

I still think there is also great potential in virtual worlds. At some point in the near future, some one will crack the interface issues and steep learning curve that Second Life is infamous for and we’ll have Star Trek holodecks before you know it.

The times they are a-changin’…

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Are Virtual Worlds Still Going or on Life Support?

One of the biggest problems I have with Google doing anything new is that the whole world goes Google Gaga. Of course, the same happens when Apple releases anything new. While I love G+ and iPads just like any other good EduGeek, I want to still hear about all of the other things that are going on in EdTech circles.

Like those things called virtual worlds. Anyone remember them?

I can’t seem to find much movement or news on the Second Life front, especially sine they decided to cut off the education discount. Did anyone manage to create a good iPhone/iPad app for Second Life? One that actually feels like the desktop browser and not some text-based role-playing game from the 80s?

Encouraging news is that the Sloodle project seems to be still moving forward – releasing projects that work with OpenSIM as well as Second Life.  But what else is happening out there in the virtual worlds… um… world?

The front page of Second Life now makes me feel like it is “eHarmony 2200” back from the future to show us what romance will look like in 200 years. So I am a little scared to log in myself and see…

Well, that and I think the island I left my avatar on fell victim to a budgetary axe a while back. So no telling what I will see when I log in.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Virtual Worlds Catching Up With Predictions

Much has been written about virtual worlds here at EGJ. And much has been predicted: avatars created from personal pictures, 3-D immersive environments, avatars that move based on your body movement and not keystrokes, etc. Now it seems that these predictions are becoming reality.

The New York Times recently ran an article about a book by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson called Infinite Reality. Blascovich and Bailenson take a look at how 3-D conferences and classrooms with avatars are just about ready to become a reality.  Several technologies are already here to accomplish this new level of virtual reality – and according to the article:

With these technologies — and a few tricks that have already been done in the lab — you can sit at a virtual conference table and exchange glances with the avatars of the other participants. Unlike the two-dimensional avatars that are already convening on Second Life and World of Warcraft, your avatar would appear to be three-dimensional, and you’d feel immersed in the scene as you looked around at the other participants from the eyes of your avatar.

Interesting ideas.  But why do we need this instead of video conferencing?

“People don’t like video conferences today because it’s more like watching ‘Hollywood Squares’ than being in a meeting,” Dr. Blascovich says. “You want the feeling of sitting at the table and having a full view looking around, seeing the side conversations and gazes that people are giving each other. In our lab, we can already give you that feeling by putting your avatar in a virtual conference room.”

I am glad someone is finally stating the obvious – that people in general just don’t like video conferencing. I am not a huge fan of it myself and I think the quote above pretty much sums up my feelings.

Now let’s just hope that this new level of virtual reality can take off before virtual worlds die out altogether.  Let’s face it – they are on life support now and need some new life.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Thoughts from a former Second Life advocate

(In response to Matt’s previous post re: the Second Life educational discount…) Actually, the educational discount was pretty good if you consider the amount of space you get on an island and all you can fit there – education, advertisements, meeting spaces, etc.

Where the expense really comes in and caused many institutions to balk is development — people quickly realized that building/programming in SL was not easy by any means for most people without a computer science degree. You’d end up either farming out the development to emerging technologies groups on your campus or paying big bucks to put something up. (Or you’ll find some geeky instructional designer who quickly falls in love with it and dumps hundreds of hours into developing in SL.) If you don’t have either of these and you’re using SL for education, you have to invest time in researching areas and finding places that will help achieve your objective.

Yes, I admit — I was a big-time SL advocate in the beginning. I’ve since been able to step back and realize just how much work and exactly how realistic it is (isn’t) to invest time/money in this project. SL had tons of potential, especially in education … it just isn’t practical.

I’m wondering what this SL alternative is that was mentioned in the article. (I’ve been away from SL and virtual worlds for so long; I apologize if there’s an obvious answer.) I think even with this alternative, the excitement over virtual worlds will decrease dramatically. My reasoning is this — sure, you have an open source alternative. But chances are (and Matt, please correct me if I’m wrong) you’ll have to self-host, meaning you’ll have to find hardware to put it on and people to maintain it. I know this is almost sounding cliché but with budgets being slashed as drastically as they are this year and projected for next, most places are just not going to be able to justify the expense. I suspect many schools were already seriously looking at their SL property to be included in the cutbacks we’re all facing, and LL’s announcement just made their decision a lot easier.

RIP SL

Katrina Adams

Howdy folks! I’m an Instructional Designer at UT Dallas. I have a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Angelo State University and a Master’s in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems from the University of North Texas. I’ve been working in edtech for 11 years. Hmm… what else? I’m a *huge* fan of that little Irish band called U2, and I’m a bigtime Firefly/Serenity advocate.

And The Second Life Exodus Begins

When I first heard that Second Life was ending their educator discount program, I knew that there would eventually be some talk about schools leaving. I just didn’t think it would come so swiftly and decisively. Apparently, there was even a session discussing which alternative to move to at Educause this week (Academics Discuss Mass Migration From Second Life).

I find it funny that people keep referring to the discount as “generous.”  Look, Second Life has always been cool but overpriced.  Even the half off discount was a stretch for most educational institutions.  At least half of the institutions that I knew of that considered going in to Second Life didn’t because even with half-off there was no way they could budget it.

The corporate world already turned its back on land in Second Life. The gaming sector never cared.  Individuals mostly couldn’t afford it, since it was really set-up for corporations.  The government sector never has any extra money for innovation.  The only group that had interest and at least a bit of money was the educational sector.  And some have said that was the only thing keeping Linden Labs afloat.

Nice knowin’ ya, Second Life.  Say “hi” to Google Wave, Jaiku, Lively, and Netscape in the virtual after world…

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Is Second Life Shooting Itself In the Foot?

By now you have possibly heard the news that Second Life is going to end its educator discount.  That discount was a whopping half off land prices.  Is this going to signal the end of Second Life?

I can’t count the number of people I have talked to through the years that cited cost as a reason why their educational institution wasn’t getting in to Second Life – even with the discount.  I get that Second Life usage is really dropping and they need to make more money.  But I am also sure a large number of colleges are just going to close shop rather than double expenses.  I have heard that many college SL projects are already on the edge of elimination as it it is.

So one has to wonder – will the net gain of those that stay and pay double make up for the huge loss of everyone that will leave?  Right now, I doubt it.  Personally, I think Second Life is going to lose more than they think they will gain.

As interest in Second Life wanes in many places, some have speculated that the educational sector is the main thing keeping it a float.  Why shoot one of your only good legs in the foot?

Will 2011 be remembered as the year virtual worlds died? I hope not – but they are life support and need better thinking than this to survive.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Star Trek Forgot To Mention That The Holodeck Was Invented By Google

Okay, so I know that there have been many people working on holodeck-like inventions for quite a while.  But none have been quite as cool as Google’s Liquid Galaxies, and I don’t remember hearing about any of the previous attempts being released as open-source.  Yes – Google released their immersive environment tool as open source.  You can read more about it here:

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/galaxy-of-your-own.html

Of course, it is the design and software that is open-source, not the actual hardware itself.  But it is an interesting start, nonetheless.  Two things in the article gave me some ideas:

  • You can hook up any where from two to “dozens” of screens potentially.
  • You can add other virtual interfaces to the set-up. In other words, it is not just limited to Google Earth.

I wonder how long it will be before someone figures out a way to use Second Life with this?  Anyways, here is my idea: First of all, you get a few dozen flat screen panels with little or not frame (kind of like they do in Sports Bars with nine screens showing four games) and put them together in a sphere shape with the screens facing inward.  Probably with a few in the back on a hinge acting as a door in.  Then you get an omnidirectional treadmill for a floor hooked up to the software in place of a joystick.  Finally, add a few motion detection cameras at key points around the sphere and a wireless microphone.  Maybe even add a glove interface of some kind for more detailed controls.  Wire all of this to work together with virtual environment of your choice (Google Earth, Second Life, World of Warcraft, you name it) – and I think we have our first rudimentary holodeck.  Maybe even someday use 3-D flat screens.

Probably pretty expensive to buy all this.  Probably also a little tough to figure out how to get all those systems to work together.  But I am sure it can be done.  So who has a grant to try this out?

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

Will We Go To The Matrix, Or Will The Matrix Come To Us?

Two new patent applications by Apple reveal the possibility that future iPhones will actually record “video or photos and use the information to render an object or location in 3D.” In other words, three-dimensional recording of places and objects. Once you can start recording places and objects on an Internet-enabled device, there will be virtually no barriers between the physical and virtual.  These recordings could be mashed together with digital information, and then ported out to any device – from the iPhone itself to a heads-up display on a car windshield or even to a special pair of virtual reality glasses.  Imagine what could happen if cars start coming equipped with this recording method?  Or think about what student reports on field trips would be like if they had this on an Internet-enabled device?

The possibilities are endless.  Neil Hughes of AppleInsider had this thought: “If enabled on millions of devices, this sort of 3D mapping could be uploaded over the Internet and then shared with other users, allowing a sort of “hive mind” functionality in generating comprehensive and up-to-date real-world renderings.”

So, will we go to the matrix, or will the matrix come to us?

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

HP Lets You Add Any Site to Augmented Reality

Thanks in no small part to the iPhone 3GS, Augmented Reality is starting to grow in leaps and bounds.  Google and others are also helping this growth in many ways.  As I have blogged about in past posts (and many others around the web have also mentioned), the lines between the online world and the offline world are blurring.  Enter into this mix Gloe from HP.

Gloe is a new service that, among other things, allows you to connect any website to a particular location in real life.  When you are at a physical site, your mobile device can then pull up websites that were voted most relevant for that location.  Of course, all of the regular “social” buzz-functions are there – tagging, FaceBook connections, etc. Gloe is still pretty new in some areas, but as this article on ReadWriteWeb points out, even if some function doesn’t work that great – at least the idea behind the function is really interesting.

We may have to wait a good ten years before any educational site or LMS catches on to this, but I like the possibilities of using this for education. I am sure there are more than a few EduPunks that are already using this (if you know of some, please post in the comments).  I love thinking about how one could transfer learning from a desk at home to a mobile device in the real world.  Maybe you could send your students on a scavenger hunt for a place in your city that best relates to your topic, and then they use a mobile blog app to complete an assignment? Or maybe they have to search the tags in the city and find something that relates to the week’s topic? Art students could go paint somewhere, snap a photo of the picture, upload it to a blog, and then tag that blog post to the location.  Humanities students could interview people or take surveys, then post the results online, and then connect the results page to the location where they collected it.  Students could begin connecting research results to locations and maybe even map differences between neighborhoods.

Many possibilities… depending on where the technology takes us.

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

The Future of 3-D In Education

THE Journal released an interview last week with Chris Chinnock (board member of the 3D@Home Consortium) about the future of 3-D in Education.  If you haven’t read the article, then go read it – there is some interesting information in there.  But I have a few thoughts that were left out.

What about computer graphics/modeling and virtual worlds in 3-D?  Chinnock discusses the need for content in 3-D.  Why not give students the ability to create content/images/etc?  Will the programs to do this be too expensive for schools to utilize in individual classes like they do with some programs such asMicroSoft Word?

These questions (and more) will all probably be asked and answered in the near future, I am sure.  Not to mention that the future of 3-D  is not just about projectors.  There are also advances being made in holographic displays and three-dimensional monitors.

But this is all leading to the fact that the walls between the real world and virtual reality are slowly crumbling away.  We now have the ability to create a virtual reality room.  Surround sound and cameras that can follow your movements already exist.  Combine that with the projectors that Chinnock discusses, pointing in all directions in a room, connected to a super-fast computer that can feed realistic CG to those projectors based on your movements, and you pretty much have the early version of a Star Trek holodeck.  Imagine what Second Life would be like then?

Matt Crosslin

Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.