Google’s Project Tango Can Change Education

This will be big. Skip to the bottom for the video…but Google’s posted a video outlining Project Tango. They’ve created a dev kit (and customized cell phone innards) that would allow your phone to constantly map it’s surroundings, and to know exactly where it is in 3D space. Why is this so cool? And how can it be a huge win for education? How about these possible applications:

  • Have your students ‘map’ their home with their cell phone. Then have their phone launch an augmented reality simulation that places historical figures in their own home – sitting on their furniture and walking around the room while having a conversation with them about their life.
  • Map any space, then launch an augmented reality ball on your phone’s screen and watch it bounce around your room. Change the ‘gravity’ settings to see how the behavior of the ball changes
  • Take the phone outside and walk around your neighborhood. As it picks out new objects based on the 3D map (and in referencing the hundreds of other phones that did the same) it can teach you a new language to describe your surroundings.
  • Got some more ideas of how you’d help your students with this technology? Share them in the comments below!

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How the iPad Craze Can Increase the Socio-Economic Digital Divide

Child At the computer
“At the Computer” courtesy of Lars Plougmann @ Flikr.
Commonsense Media have released a new report regarding the media use and habits of children between the ages of 0 and 8 years of age. I encourage you to read it – it’s full of great findings about what media kids are viewing, as well as when, where, and why they view it (for example – lower-income families are more likely to have TVs in children’s bedroooms and to leave them on all of the time.)

But one stat that caught my eye is that while half (54%) of higher-income children have iPads at home, only 28% of lower-income children do. More and more schools are turning to Apple, (as they did in the 80’s with the mass purchasing of Apple IIs), for the iPad as the device of choice for the classroom.
And hey – that’s great. But here’s the rub.

When those kids get home, only 28% of lower-income students will have the chance to continue their learning on their personal iPads. The remaining 12% who have a different kind of tablet – one that won’t play iPad apps will not. Meanwhile, 49% of higher income students will be able to go home and have the same apps on their personal iPads as they used in school, theoretically extending the school day.

I’m not saying that schools should not use iPads. And I’m not saying that it is necessary to buy every student one (although that would be great – if they are allowed to take them home). What I am saying is that the device is one thing – the learning activities is quite another. And, when possible, consider using web-based learning activities with students in your classroom that are not tied to only one operating system. That way, the 61% of lower-income students with any Internet-enabled mobile device in the home can take advantage of it – just like the 91% of higher-income students can. And if you dochose to use iPads and educational apps from the Apple store, try to search out those that are available on operating systems other than Apple’s.

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