It seems that I just missed the wearable technologies convention that took place in Europe last month (http://www.wearable-technologies.com/2013/09/call-for-speakers-wearable-technologies-conference-2014-europe/). The conference emphasized the enormous business potential and economic growth rates, and drew in 600 participants from around the world. The participants competed to be named the most innovative technology in categories such as gaming, health, medicine, etc… Noticeably (for me), there was no category that examined the educative possibilities that these “new” technologies present.
I put “new” in parenthesis, because by some definitions, wearable technologies have been around for centuries. I would venture to say all readers of this post either have some, or know someone who owns them; I own glasses…not Google glass, but reading glasses that are a technology I use to improve my eyesight while reading. However, I do acknowledge this line of thinking engages in the debate over how technology is defined more so than what a wearable technology is thought of today…
The organizers of the conference, as well as most real techies would expand on the definition to make sure that it incorporated the idea of ubiquitous computing, or computing that is seamlessly incorporated into everyday objects. With that definition, I would say that you still have been exposed to it… if you know someone with a calculator watch, for example, which have been around since the 1980′s.
Today’s wearable technology, however, attempt to allow users to go above and beyond simple algebraic concepts, and into the world wear dreams are made, for a realistic, customized experience. For example, Vivi-touch http://www.vivitouch.com/4d_sound_experience_amplify_it.html promotes an experience with its 4-d haptics and audio devices as “Pure, Unadulterated Feel-tainment”, as it purports to bring a “…new sensory dimension to gaming that lets you actually feel what you see and hear—explosions, crashes, aerial battles, the stretch of a slingshot or the smooth roll of a pinball”. Heathrow airport is using Google Glass and Sony Smartwatches to deliver “up-to-the-minute information such as flight updates and destination”. In the future, they hope to use the technology to “communicate passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences to staff”, and even tie in discounts related to this data, that passengers can use once they reach their destination.
If applied to the education field, the potential is limitless in both miraculous and terrifying ways. These tools and the related analytical data they are drawing from allow us to customize the student experience to every last detail. This is a good thing… if we stay mindful of the ethical and legal implications that come with access to such information. Many of these tools are waiting for educators to re-purpose them for the classroom, or out-of-school educational practices… How do you see them being used in your field?
- Akesha Horton
Recently I have been asked a few questions about using Amazon kindle eBooks with a screenreader. I have had to do some research to answer questions and I have been surprised at some of the things I have discovered.
There is a version of the Kindle Reader for Windows that is accessible with a screenreader. This is not the version that is commonly available for download. The Kindle Reader with Accessibility can be downloaded from http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200596280 . Make sure to notice the list of keystrokes on this page. The Kindle Reader for Windows with Accessibility does not use the standard Windows keystrokes for navigating within the program. It is very difficult to open and navigate eBooks without using the Kindle Reader for Windows keystrokes.
I was very pleasantly surprised at the accessibility of the Kindle Reader app for the iPad/iPhone. The standard app that can be downloaded from the App Store seems to work quite well with VoiceOver. The gestures are also common with the other apps on the iPhone/iPad.
I was very pleased that I could purchase a book on the Kindle Store and read it using a combination of my iPhone and PC.
I have written articles on DAISy(Digital Audible Information System y) readers for Windows, Macintosh, and IOS (iPod, iPhone, and iPad). I would like to finish the series by mentioning DAISy readers for the Android operating system. The two most prominent DAISy readers are:
In many cases students who use Kurzweil 3000 only use the text-to-speech capabilities of the program. There are many more features of Kurzweil
3000 that can be of assistance.
Kurzweil 3000 has a wide variety of highlight colors that can be used with Kurzweil 3000 documents. Essentially the user can click on the
desired color and drag the mouse cursor over the text that needs to be highlighted.
Kurzweil 3000 has several methods that can be used to make notes on the e-text. Sticky Notes allow the user to draw a box in the margin of the
e-text and type in a note. This is somewhat similar to using a PostIt note. Text Notes can be used for larger amounts of text. These notes
appear as a small number, similar to the numbers associated with a footnote. When the user clicks on the number a window containing the text
appears. There are also Voice Notes that can be added to the e-text. These appear similarly to the Text Notes. The user essentially records
some audio which is played back when the number is selected.
There are two very nice advantages to the above study tools. All of the notes and highlights that are added to the e-text are saved in the e-
texts file. Secondly, all of the information in the highlights and notes can be extracted from the e-text. For example, someone who is taking a
history class could highlight all of the important dates in yellow and all of the reasons the dates are important in cyan. Since Kurzweil 3000
puts this information in the file, the student can do this as the dates come up in the reading assignments. Before an exam, the student can
extract all of the yellow and cyan highlights. There are options that will allow the yellow highlights to be extracted to the left margin of the
extraction document and the cyan highlights to be tabbed in a little. The result is a study guide that has each date followed by the reason that
date is important. Obviously this could be very helpful before the exam.
More information on these study tools can be found at:
Kurzweil 3000 for Windows http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/support/atc/at/k3000.html
Kurzweil 3000 for Macintosh http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/support/atc/at/k3000m.html