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The Best of CES 2016: Transforming education with technology

By Alison Carr-Chellman / January 2016

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Last week the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 took place in Las Vegas, Nevada and for four days, the latest and greatest innovations in technology were showcased for industry insiders to preview. e-Learn Magazine was present to cover the event and Editor-in-Chief, Ali Carr-Chellman was able to interview several innovators on the floor to discuss possible new technologies that may soon enough be part of everyday households that may be leveraged for future learning applications. This discussion details some of what Ali was able to learn that forms the foundations for the four-part video series (one for each day of the conference) below.—Editor

It was my distinct pleasure to attend the CES 2016 show in Las Vegas, Nevada last week. It was a wild ride, and very exciting. The show is only open to press and industry insiders to get a sneak peak at innovations that we all may be buying in the coming years. The show is wide ranging from phone cases to any kind of audio accessory you can imagine. There are automatic cat litter boxes and fit bits for your dog. Technology for home, baby, beauty, and any kind of business solution you could possibly want. Remarkably, the area of the show reserved for "educational technology" had almost nothing located in it that resembled advanced educational technology. Opting instead for sections like "wearables" "gaming," and "virtual/augmented reality" most vendors seemed to eschew the traditional title of educational technology. In order to see what might be useful going forward for an e-Learning audience, we had to go far outside the traditional players and start to think outside the box. The video series represents conversations with several innovators about their products and the ways that they could be extended into an online learning space. In some cases, the extension isn't so obvious and we really stretch our minds, in others, it's a natural connection and easy to imagine. The primary block for the adoption of these innovations in e-learning is likely to be price points. Consumer electronics infiltrate a market slowly and diffusion is largely based on cost. When a technology that is really seen by the public as a time saver or a cool innovation that actually does something useful in a home setting, then the doors are opened wide as long as most homes can afford it.

Alongside the CES show there are several smaller conferences including the "Transforming EDU" conference bringing together innovators and scholars to examine applications for education across the CES show. I was asked to serve on a panel that examined four innovations: Lego Education, Adobe, TouchCast, and Toolwire as they could be applied in classroom settings. My job on this panel wasn't to extend to the online learning context, but to bring to bear the research and scholarship in the area of learning, design, and technology. The session, entitled "Producst Shaping Educational Movements" was full of fantastic ideas that can be employed today to help bring schools to a more substantive engagement, particularly with disenfranchised populations. My hat's off to these innovators whose products are very strong, practical, engaging, and creative. As I pointed out in the session, the real issues are not about getting new ideas into the classroom, but rather fundamentally changing the nature of classrooms and schools so that these products will be planted in the fertile soil of open education models.

Policies and district level orientations toward traditional means of accountability stand in the way of having true adoption of these innovations. Current research and scholarship offers little hope for disruptive technologies to make an enormous shift in the traditional classroom space that has remained the same for well more than 100 years. This is true in traditional K-12 classrooms and higher education alike. While corporate training contexts are slightly more likely to adopt innovations and have the fiscal abilities to make agile innovation adoption a reality, it is tied up in more than just ability to make it happen. The focus on ROI and accountability, standards and testing have created a bottleneck for innovation adoption. In addition, instructor and teacher identity issues are heavily bound up in the ability to innovate. Teachers and instructors have specific ideas about what happens in their classrooms, and their reasons for going into their professions which usually are not so much about mentoring learners into their own interests and far more about being the person in charge who brings light to learners. Being a "guide on the side" is language we have used for decades now, but to little effect in terms of truly transforming teacher led spaces into student led democratic learning models.

The videos that follow show several new ideas that if identities and larger bureaucratic and policy changes can be effected might offer significant shifts in the way we do business as online educators. Ranging from virtual and augmented reality to glass displays, the videos cover a lot of ground from K-12 to corporate contexts, we even venture into informal learning spaces like museums. There are a lot of great ideas here, but they require a fair amount of change within our learning contexts in order to see them come to reality. For now, suspend disbelief and join us on a journey into a future 10 or 20 years from now when these technologies are widely available and we can employ them in the service of online learning.

Day One; January 6th

Day Two; January 7th

Day Three; January 8th

Day Four; January 9th

About the Author

Dr. Alison A. Carr Chellman is editor-in-chief of eLearn Magazine. She has been a professor of Instructional Systems at the Pennsylvania State University for 17 years and currently serves as the Head of the Learning and Performance Systems department. She has written more than 100 articles, books, book chapters, and papers on topics related to school change with a particular emphasis on those populations who are underserved by the current system. Her recent TED Talk, Gaming to re-engage boys in learning, has brought international attention to the issues facing boys in the current educational system and ways that digital learning media may be used to highlight the mismatch between boy culture and school culture.

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2016 Copyright held by the Owner/Author. 1535-394X/16/01-2876470


  • Tue, 06 Dec 2016
    Post by Daisy

    Thank you for your interesting post. I think transforming education with technology is possible in the nearest future. I read here about how we could use augmented reality now. it is very cool. but I wish I could imagine what will happen in the future