Google I/O: The machines are learning

Google I/O: The machines are learning

I always look forward to Google’s I/O conference to see where the future of technology and innovation is headed and today, once again, didn’t disappoint. This was the 10th I/O conference for Google. This is where Google shares what it’s working on so developers know where the platform is headed… and what they see as the future of technology. The theme of this year’s conference could not have been more clear. Artificial Intelligence (AI) was definitely the theme of this year’s conference. Whether it was their new device Google Home, their new apps Allo and Duo or their new Virtual Reality (VR) device, the future belongs to AI and machine learning. Machine Learning, or where machines teach themselves, to me, has the greatest impact on education. The idea that a student could soon be sitting at home and simply ask their Google Home device “How do I solve this problem?” and instead of the device giving the answer, it talks the student through how to solve the problem. It will ask the student questions, respond to those questions and actually teach the student. Now….yes….this is what parents do (and should do) and I’m not saying I want students talking to computers all the time. But it does open up some interesting possibilities for the future. As usual, it’s the stats that get me really thinking about how we in education will continue to evolve. 300 million people were online when Google was founded. 3 Billion people are connected via mobile today. Think about these numbers. When you think that roughly half the world’s population is connected via a mobile device, you can’t help but think what that means for education on a global scale. Or, what that means for your students and their ability to connect with people from…well….anywhere. What are we doing in schools and classrooms to better understand that we need to be on mobile devices? Really grasping that these devices are where people spend the majority of their time. Over 20% of Google search queries in the US are done by voice. Over 50% of all search queries are done on mobile devices (both stats from this year’s keynote). Take one second and ask yourself, how does this change your classroom? Now, figure this layer: Google states that they translate over 100 languages and over a billion words a day. Many world language teachers are still frustrated with this technology. Is it...

Read More

Upload: A documentary

Upload: A documentary

I wanted to share this documentary that I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a part of. Nate Becker, a high school student in Marysville, WA, asked me to sit down one day while I was there doing work as part of our Eduro Learning contract with the district, to talk about technology and education. I had no idea what the questions were going to be or where he was going with his line of questioning. Below is the documentary he created based on his own knowledge and research and how he views the use of technology in his own school system and life. When we talk about creating meaningful stuff to share with the world. This is the type of stuff we are talking about. This isn’t an assignment that can be done in a class period or even a week. This type of learning and creative works takes time and a lot of energy.  Kudo’s Nate….I hope this is the first of many documentaries in your...

Read More

The Millennials are here!

The Millennials are here!

It is my last training of the summer. Finish up these two days with MIT students from Whitworth University and then two weeks of not traveling or speaking. It’s 9am and everyone is slowly coming in and getting their laptops and iPads set up for the day. I too am getting set up, frantically trying to figure out the projector system, trying to link the two rooms together so that both projectors showed what was on my laptop. I’m introduced and for the first time I stop and scan the room. 43 future teachers sit in front of me. All of them preparing to enter a classroom that looks a lot different than my first classroom. In my elementary education program’s technology course, we were graded on whether we could thread a projector properly both to play and then know how to rewind it. In that same class we had to build a web page. You know…..it was 1998….and this Internet thing might have some purpose in education…so we built a web page from scratch…I mean coding HTML not the program scratch. 🙂 I digress…..I’m looking around the room excited that I get to help shape the thoughts and ideas of what education is in 2015 and in the future to the next generation of teachers. But this isn’t just the next generation of teachers……this is the next generation. “How many of you are 34 or younger?” I asked. All but about 8 hands went into the air. I smiled…..shook my head……and realized for the first time, they have arrived. I’ve been talking about and following this generation for awhile now. Heck, everyone has been. We have more research about this generation than we do about any generation before them. Here’s a White House report on Millennials, here’s all the Pew Research on them, or do your own search…..there is plenty to read. The oldest of them graduated high school in the year 2000 and the youngest of them just last year. This generation is the first true technology generation. They have grown up through this amazing time of personal computers and the Internet. They are connected and being connected is a way of life. One student even proudly admitted to being one of the first million users on Facebook. That’s this generation! The generation that jumped from MySpace, to Facebook, to Twitter, to Instagram without flinching. Just as...

Read More

If I were the teacher

If I were the teacher

As another school year finishes up here in the Northern Hemisphere I find myself, like many educators, reflecting on this past school year. As we reflect we start to think about what we would do different if we had to do it all over again and luckily for educators we get that opportunity. We get to continually improve our trade, continually test out new ideas, new ways of doing things and see how they work. Google created this little video of sound bites from students talking about how they would change the classroom if they were the teacher. As I watch this video and listen to these students what I hear is that they want to have more control over their learning. Take the technology piece out of it for a second and what I hear is “I want to learn my way” and “I want to do things that excite me”. Technology just allows those things to happen easier than ever in the classroom. So as I reflect and think about the year to come (I’m no longer in a classroom but I do substitute from time to time). I want to think about what these kids and millions like them are telling us about education and then come up with a list of how I want to teach next year. If I were the teacher: Every day, every student would feel special. I wouldn’t teach from a lesson plan, I would make the whole day up as I go. I would ask students what they wanted to learn about and find a way to make the standards fit their passion not their passion fit the standards. I would have a conversation with students about how they want to be assessed. I would give them the skills that unleash the power of the Internet so that they can learn anything, anytime in anyway possible. I would give every students a voice in the world. I would let my students know that I’m human and have bad days too. I would make it a goal to ask more questions than give answers daily. I would invite the world into our classroom and introduce our classroom to the world. We would create and share something publicly daily. We would all learn together; from each other and with each other. What is your list….you probably are a teacher so as you...

Read More

Google and the Future of Learning

Google and the Future of Learning

What has becoming somewhat of a tradition….ok…it’s really just my geek side coming out (yes this would imply I have another side….not sure what that is though), I sat down on Thursday last week to watch the Google I/O conference. For years now I have watched the Google I/O conference as well as the Apple’s WWDC (coming June 8th) for no other reason (or so I tell myself) than to fill in teachers at my school what was announced and how it might impact them. When living and working in China and Thailand this meant staying up until 2am or so to watch it live and write an email that would be in every teachers inbox by the next morning. Now living in Seattle it means a cup of coffee, four devices and watching it on my TV. It also means I no longer work in a school or have teachers to send this to…so you get my thoughts this year. Basically a brain dump of things I’m thinking after watching Google layout the next year and beyond of the future of technology. Education was at the front of this year’s talk. I say that every year of course because I hear and see things through an educational lens. For example, Google’s new Photos app (Android, iOS) had nothing to do with education…or they just made it even easier for students to take pictures, create movies, stories and share those photos with their classmates and teacher. A common photo app on both Android and iOS devices with unlimited upload and storage space for all the photos and video you want to take. Yes…this can and will impact some classrooms. “Please take out your phones and record via videos and photos your experiment today please. One person in your group needs to be the recorder for the experiment and I expect to see written notes along with video and image evidence of what happened.” Google Expeditions One of the biggest educational announcements was the release of Google Expedition. A virtual reality toolkit for educators being released, I’m going to guess, in time for next school year. Using Google Cardboard and any Smartphone (again both Android and iOS) you turn every classroom into a 3D immersive experience. This is very early stages but if you think 2 or 3 years down the road what this means for classrooms it could be...

Read More