Week 14 reflection and closing thoughts

“That’s so neat!”

As I read through chapter 31 of Reiser and Dempsey’s Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology much of the futurist perspectives presented reminded me of things I read back in the heyday of Wired Magazine. Rather than talk about what was outstanding in the chapter, I would like to talk about Ray Kurzweil.

Ray is a brilliant fellow who works at MIT. He has done ground breaking work in speach synthesis and heavily involved with a pocket sized device released in recent years that enables a visually disabled person to point a camera at a box of Wheaties in the grocery store and have the device read to them what the item is. Cool stuff. One can only imagine how such a device could be used to support education.

One of the other things Ray has been involved with is developing a babel fish like tool the utilizes advanced computing and algorithms. For those of you who don’t know what a babel fish is — it is a reference to a Douglas Adams’ novel The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy — you stick the fish in your ear, and any intergalactic language is translated by the fish into the language you understand. The sophisticated program can listen to words that you speak, and then with relatively small perceivable pause speak a translation in French, German, or Spanish. If you don’t get how big this is for education and everything else, then you haven’t been eating your Wheaties.

Ray is a technologist and a futurist who believes and argues that technology is advancing at an exponential pace. He believes that in a few years artificial intelligence matching and surpassing the thinking capacity of the human brain will be possible. Ladies and gentlemen, we live in exciting times.

Favorite activity of the semester

There is so much that I liked about this class, I am not sure where to start.

For me, this and the EDT 6480 staff development courses are the final two classes for my masters prior to doing the capstone project next semester.

This class, simply put, has been educational and fun — a delight to be in and participate with.

Let’s see, what were the strengths:

  • a diverse set of tools were utilized and experimented with
  • we got to use an open system for communication (blogs) vs. a closed system (vista)
  • i now have an easily accessible copy of everything i did in the course that can be referenced and used later
  • the participants approached everything with a relatively open mind, they also freely shared experiences and opinions — i really valued this
  • there was a lot of freedom regarding how and when assignments were completed
  • folks helped each other out — a huge plus
  • the pace and flexibility worked well for me

What could have been done differently?

  • while there were learning objectives and goals, and clear week-to-week tasks, participants might not have had a clear feeling of where they were heading and why — i.e. how what they were doing related to the big picture (though when you are new to technology and looking at new tools like these, there may be no way to really adjust for this)
  • for some, the pace of the lessons might have been intense (i favor a baseline lesson/requirement structure that is loose — with the ability to increase difficulty/tasks for those who want to be all they can be)
  • having a picture ahead of time, or a plan/path — like a learning map, might have been good — knowing how what we learn in this class related to those that will follow in the program (this is more of a curriculum development issue than anything else)
  • i wish the tools we used were more personalized. i want to see a picture of my classmates, and general profile that helps me to remember who they are. developing the learning community or cohort more would have been ideal.
  • coordinating some optional on-site events (for those who are around the kalamazoo area) would have been fun to participate in
  • you could have helped me to develop and implement a winning lotto number picking program, so i could buy more cool toys — geesh! come on, why didn’t this happen?

But seriously. This was a good class, and I enjoyed it. Thanks Dr. H. for a lovely experience. Cheers all.

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