Secrets to the Latest in Tech Education – What is on the Horizon for your kids?
Let Freedom ring! For July’s write up, we’ll wrap up exciting tech news from ISTE 2019 (International Society for Technology in Education) with a focus on creative freedom. Recently I was fortunate to have a session at ISTE, this go-around being hosted in Philadelphia, and run an exhibit of some new tech with our friends at Unity.
ISTE 2019 was attended by close to 17,000 educators making it one of the largest conferences for educators in the United States. New projects and technologies are announced, tinkered with, and best practices are shared over the course of several days.
From the presentations and expansive expo floor in the Philadelphia Convention Center, among the giants of Google Education, Microsoft, LittleBits, LEGO Education and countless suppliers, there are a few technologies that stood out for their unique approaches and clever solutions to what has become a saturated environment.
The first call out is from the creative group at JOYLABZ. Jay Silver, inventor of the MakeyMakey, and his team were ready to share their new initiative after an interesting move just following their announcement to the world. What are they making? An experience (via game console and OS – or maybe not now), using the Scratch community to “bend” or essentially hack games into new experiences. After a successful Kickstarter (getting funding in less than one day), the team pulled their campaign to reassess their project. They have stated that from listening to the community, they believe they can come back with something stronger. A thoughtful approach to development in light of recent events. I am thrilled that the team was not bound to launch something they weren’t over the moon for. Freedom to say “NO!” to a release that didn’t match their standards! Something the entertainment world could certainly learn from…
The next shout-out is an interesting use of technology found in Sphero’s Specdrums Ring. At the base, the small, finger-fitting, devices convert color to sounds on the fly. This can allow content creation in different spaces via a connect app. While the sky might not be limitless on this platform, it’s a pleasant surprise to see Sphero branching out.
Finally, a new twist on an old tail. No typo there, an aged research robot is revitalized with a host of new capabilities. The new Finch robot from Birdbrain Technologies is finally wireless, and is powered by micro:bit (nestled cleverly in its tail). The upgrade is significant which massively expands where learners can go with this.
TLDR; Seeing a massive amount of enthusiastic educators gathered (during their summer break) is a powerful thing! Technologies that encourage exploration and content creation, like those mentioned above, drive what teachers need more of: freedom to what is best for their learners on the technologies that are best fit for that learning moment.