Monday, November 14, 2011

Classrooms and The Web of Things

by Shelly Blake-Plock

There has been talk recently about the "Web of Things" -- cars that communicate problems to the Cloud or refrigerators that keep inventories and schedule replenishments.

What will constitute the "Web of Things" in the classroom of the future? Backpacks that take inventory to make sure students are prepared for school each morning? Surface based tables and desks that differentiate instruction to students?

I'd love to hear your thoughts. And feel free to go way outside the box... this is a
little bit of brainstorming about the impossible.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. Well, Ford Trucks already inventory their contents, so the backpack thing is pretty old hat. But I think we're moving toward the communications tools seen in Hitchhikers Guide, we have them in our pockets, and it isn't a tablet (and sure isn't an iPad). Our mobiles ("phones" is a ridiculous term, we use them least for that function) connect us to our world of data, they will soon project when we need them too, so, though I love "Surface" type tables, they become unnecessary. We draw on our tables floors, walls, windows, photo or CamScanner that with our mobiles, upload to our puffy-cloud-like-web, and we all manipulate and build.

    - Ira Socol

  2. My "web of things" would focus on classroom management and inventory. When a student walks in his/her attendance would be taken, and would cross ref with previous classes to check for skipping. The "web" would continue to scan test, worksheets, and reports that are missing and would print out a reminder. The "web" would also reassign seats based on grades, and attendance, push struggling students closer to the front. Those are my ideas. I tweet about the digital divide @tech_louverture. I focus on education and technology for minority students. Peace.

  3. not to start a fight here @tech_louverture but I see all that you suggest as "coercive" uses of technology, your web is a web of control and compliance rather than one of liberation and learning.

    Attendance? Really? If you don't know who is in your class by looking, there is probably no reason for students to actually attend in the first place. Tests? Worksheets? Aren't you just increasing the problems, especially for minorities? Assigned seats based on grades? Wow, to me that is simply a recipe for humiliation.

    But this is important, because it continues to show us how technology is a morally neutral thing. It is up to us to use it for good or bad.

    - Ira Socol

  4. Yes, Ira would not be one to start a fight ;)

    I think the attendance idea is interesting, albeit maybe from a different point of view; I'd like to see something that gauged attendance, sending an immediate report to guidance and back home if a student isn't in class -- then, the student would get a quick note to explain in real time (and video cast out) what the student is doing/working-on and why they aren't in class. Rather than tie it to the idea of "skipping", use it to encourage a more mature use of time and decision making. And yes, I realize how ridiculous this may sound from a practical point of view; I'm just thinking conceptually.

    I also think the idea of "reminders" is interesting, again I might offer a different angle. I'd like to see smart assignments that remind the teacher of how individual students learn as the teacher is making the assignment and help the teacher differentiate on basis of learning style, motivation, previous academic performance, prior knowledge, and a host of emotional, social, psychological factors. Again, pie in the sky maybe, but I do see "smart differentiation" as something developing out of blended learning technologies and making that whole project more relevant to teachers and students within a social learning environment.

    Thanks for the ideas, @tech_louverture and thanks for the provocation, Ira. Let's push this further.


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