point solutions in education and an #edtechwishlist

Who solves the challenge of interoperability when educators are given a particular set of tools with which to work?

For example, one teacher imagines:

“a tool that would auto math/convert/input grades from a digital rubric (& docs/forms) into my gradebook”

@rschouvieller

Later, I learned this refers to PowerSchools + Google Drive.

  • How much incentive does Pearson™ need before investing in a plug-in?
  • Does Google use an algorithm to decide when to marry Drive to an external application?

Do Pearson and Google get this feedback? Do these remarks ever appear on the radar of developers, starter-uppers and investors? Is there a bottom-line where the horizon meets these challenges, or…

Do these hard-won notions get lost in the cloud?

Note: Pearson does mention API tools, and I have worked with G-Drive APIs, myself. (We may not be in the ballpark yet; but, we may have found a playground.)

Also, how and where is such feedback being shared? Please use the hashtag #edtechwishlist if you have a good idea for new applications, extensions, plug-ins or add-ons.

Toggling radar ON.

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Looma from VillageTech Solutions

Update: Music videos for primary learners completed, preview here

I have recently learned about a small non-profit that is working to deliver ICT support to rural educators in Nepal.

LoomaLady
Nepali educators learning about the Looma.

That’s right, Information & Communication Technology in the villages and classrooms of the Himalayas. VillageTech Solutions have designed Looma, a
standalone audio-visual device that

  • is self-powered (solar-rechargeable batter)
  • is operated with a wireless “wand”
  • has a built-in audio system
  • comes loaded with CC-Licensed content (games, videos, songs, etc.)

The device projects the “desktop” onto a wall and comes with a hand-held mouse (the “wand”) to navigate.

The prototype has been field tested and now they are looking for volunteers to help search for—and evaluate—content that can be loaded into the drive. (Most classrooms in rural Nepal have no electricity, much less an Internet connection.)

I would write a bit more; but, I am up to my elbows producing some educational content…gotta go. Holler at “azwaldo” at gmail dot com, anytime.

thanks, Mom

One of my earliest design gigs in virtual worlds was the development of a HUD* used by students learning the Chinese language. After four or five years, that design is still in use. The image below is from the Chinese Island simulation.

* Heads Up Display – an interactive display with buttons and text that mediates their interaction with the virtual environment.

image from virtual world simulation showing two characters at a news stand, with various informational displays visible

News stand at Chinese Island. (Click for full size image.)
Note the blue dialog prompt, and the HUD in upper and left perimeters.

Early next year, a group of Monash University students will enter the virtual world of SecondLife™ to experience a variety of simulations; a restaurant, an airport, a medical clinic and a train station. Later, they will actually travel to Italy for a program of study, abroad.

The virtual environment in which they will immerse themselves is modeled on the neighborhood in Italy where they will be staying. The simulations are designed to prepare them for their visit. They will study maps, use currency, become familiar with local fixtures…like signs.

image showing animated virtual reality where a single character sits amid various objects including an ATM machine

Avatar, virtual workshop, and assorted educational objects.

In support of the Italian Studies project, I am developing interactive objects—mainly the scripts—to provide a number of interactions. Students can open a “wallet” at the “ATM” and withdraw virtual currency, then visit a coffee shop and…maybe purchase a cappucino. On touching some of the things they see (think “mouse click”), the name of that object appears as text in Italian and they hear an audio-stream pronunciation of the term.

They will be required to buy tickets, read a public transit schedule, and complete many other tasks during their lessons.

Mom and I did something similar before our visit to New York City. After opening Google Earth and “roaming” the virtual streets around our hotel to prepare for our trip, we were able to navigate that neighborhood as though we had been there before.

So, thanks Mom…for helping field test this sort of technology.