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

10 Chrome Extensions Every Student Should Install

10 Chrome Extensions Every Student Should Install

Whether your students have Chromebooks or use Chrome as the default browser, understanding that Chrome is an operating system as much as it is a web browser is important. Because Chrome is based on the open-source Chromium project, it allows developers to create extensions that “extend” what the browser can do. Here are my 10 must have Chrome extensions to start 2016: Diigo Web Collector Social bookmarking has been around for years now. Yet I’m still surprised how few students know and use powerful bookmarking tools like Diigo. Even if you don’t teach the bookmarking part of what Diigo can do, there are so many other features available. Being able to highlight text on webpages, leave sticky notes on any web page for yourself or for a partner you are collaborating with changes the way we view the web. The video on the link above will help get you started in understanding just how powerful of an extension this is. Sidenotes A great note taking app that opens up a side panel and allows students to take notes about a webpage as they read it. The app backs up all the data to dropbox so if a student’s Chromebook crashes or if Chrome crashes on your computer, all your notes are saved and reconnect via dropbox. I have been using this for a few weeks now and love being able to add quotes from a webpage. I can then go back and use it for blog posts, trainings, and keynotes. Students might use it for papers or class discussions. Note Anywhere I love extensions that do one thing and do them well. This is a simple sticky note extension that allows a user to leave sticky notes for themselves on any webpage. When they come back to that webpage the sticky notes just appear. Another great research tool for students. Goo.gl url shortener URL shorteners are not just for teachers. Students should learn how to use them as well to create quick short URLs to share with their partners, the world, or their teacher. The Goo.gl shortner has two functions I really like. 1) It connects to your Google Account and tracks how many times your link is clicked on. Right away giving you data about the links in your writing. 2) It instantly creates a QR Code that you can download to easily view the webpage on a phone...

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

A Day in 2015

A Day in 2015

It’s 4:45am….I know this because the alarm on my phone softly starts to play its melody slowly getting louder and louder until I roll over, pick it up, and swipe to the right. I rub my eyes, stretch and look out the window. The sun is still hours from rising as I watch the Seattle Ferry, all lit up, make it’s majestic journey from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle. Filled with the first commuters from the island on this Wednesday morning. As I sit up in bed and my feet hit the ground I pick up my phone to check my updates. Even though I have been sleeping for six hours my assistant Motoy (a Moto X 2013 edition) has been working all night. A notification from the Delta app tells me my 7:12am flight to JFK this morning is on time, a notification from Tripit tells me my gate is now A4 and Google Now informs me that I should leave my house no later than 5:22am to make it in time for my flight. As I get dressed I strap on Motoy’s assistant 360 (Moto 360 watch). It’s 5:07am and 360 shows an updated notification from Delta confirming that my gate is now A4. I swipe the notification aside, check that my heart rate is a calm 57bpm and finish getting dressed. I head to my backpack, slide Macky (MacBook Air) into his slot, wind up the power cord and along with noise cancelling headphones, and my Nexus 9 slide them into their rightful place for today’s trip. Another quick glance at 360 to see it’s now 5:15am and a notification from Google Now reminding me to leave before 5:22am to be on time for my flight. I finish moving my suitcase and backpack to the front door before taking Motoy from my pocket flipping to the Uber app and requesting an UberX ride to the airport. “One moment please” the app responds and then tells me that Omar, my drive, is on his way and should be arriving in less than a minute. I add my destination of SeaTac Airport and slide Motoy back into my pocket and this blog post starts forming in my head ‘How amazing is 2015?’ I think to myself. I quietly walk back into the bedroom, give my wife a gentle kiss on the cheek. She wakes and rolls over to...

Read More