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Education

Assistive Technologies for Students

Nike+ Fuelband
Nike+ Fuelband – using it in class as a teaching tool

There is plenty of buzz around the new devices that we see in so many hands and especially in students. From smpartphones to the Nike+ Fuelband, these technologies are not only changing lives outside the classroom but inside as well. We’ll take a look at a few of the technologies that can be used in promoting educational directives to students and teachers as well.

Google Glass

The first of these technologies is Google Glass. I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard of this device that lets you capture video, and see graphics in an eyeglass like wearable that can show you where to go and where the best deals are in the mall (aka augmented reality). The truth is that Google Glass has had a lot of buzz in the media, but still hasn’t taken off as the creators hoped it would. Although it is mired in privacy concerns, there are some benefits to education it can provide. An obvious benefit is for students who would like to record the teacher’s lesson so that they can go home and play it to review. This is an excellent feature, especially for students with disabilities who have a hard time taking notes. Not only can it help students remember a lesson, it can also enhance the lesson by providing visuals and bonus information to what the student is seeing. Taking this a little further would mean that students can use the augmented reality feature to better understand class trips and get live data streams to enhance their learning experience. Another great utility of Google Glass is that you can have Google Hangouts (video chat) throughout the world and with students in the same school as well without leaving the classroom. Imagine what robotics club would be when Google Glass becomes an essential part in instructing and guiding the robots?!

Here’s a little quote from a former librarian and technology consultant on the board of International Society for Technology in Education:

“The possibilities are endless as more applications are developed for the device and as Glass gets into the hands of more teachers and students,” said Kathy Schrock, a former librarian and technology consultant[1].

Nike+ Fuelband

The Nike+ Fuelband is a hot item these days. Being a part of the wearable devices family it ranks high in terms of giving a quality product that helps track your fitness levels. With the growing epidemic of obesity, this energy/calorie tracker can be a strong asset in helping students meet their fitness goals. The band has a three-axis accelerometer and a programmed sensor that tracks your movement. Although the device is not perfect at tracking everything (because it’s only on one wrist), it does help provide an estimate of how many calories have been lost. Nike has come up with its own FuelPoints system that lets you record your daily physical activities and store the data on the web. You can see what day was your best, what day was your worst, and what your longest streak was in hitting your predetermined goal. Students can use this for gym class and can see where they need to improve in their physical lifestyle.

Smartphones

Smartphones in class is a touchy issue for some school boards as some have banned cell phone use in class. I believe the idea here is not to disengage students with smartphones in the hope that they will listen to the teacher and learn therefrom. Rather, when technology sets a bar that allows for a paradigm shift that should be embraced fully. The key is to engage students with their smartphones such that they receive parts of the curriculum from it and are able to effectively learn from these great devices. For example, sharing of content in class and providing real-time feedback to what the teacher is talking about. Using QR codes to help guide students through certain lectures making the class more engaging and fun by asking for input. The traditional methodology of a teacher to student pedagogy is no longer valid and the bar that technology has set, in being able to have instant information, is something we need to fully embrace. The same goes for laptops and other devices in class as well.

1. http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/10/living/google-glass-in-schools/

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