Looking Beyond Today’s Learning Technologies

While visiting the L.A. offices of one of Ambient Insight’s Advisory Board members, Aaron Pulkka of Rabbx (Los Angeles) and  Metal Rabbit Games (Changzhou), I had the opportunity to try out some new technology. I should say “try on” some new technology.

Aaron with Google Glass

Aaron Pulkka, co-founder and CEO of Rabbx, co-founder and chairman of Metal Rabbit Games

A lot of virtual ink has already been spilled exploring the potential of Google Glasses for providing augmented reality learning experiences. There are “how to” or skills-based apps such as Kitch Me and Sous Chef, cooking instructions that walk you through the steps of cooking, and knowledge-based apps such as CamelBak Thirst, one of numerous “Glass” fitness apps that delivers hydration tips.

But the real eye opener was experiencing Aaron’s head-tracking Oculus Rift, that little startup behind the virtual reality (VR) device Facebook now owns. My first “trip” was around a Tuscan villa by the sea, and as I joy-stick traveled around the grounds, the background sounds changed seamlessly, adding to the immersive feeling. (Not a learning experience, just a see-what-it-can-do demo.)

That was nice, but a trip through the solar system via the Oculus Rift demo Titans of Space really demonstrated the expansive opportunities that this head-mounted display technology offers for learning.

Tyson Greer with Occulus

Ambient Insight CEO Tyson Greer exploring with the Oculus

We all know that Mercury is really small and that Jupiter and Saturn are really big and have seen plenty of 2D pictures to prove it, but taking a self-guided tour through space—experiencing the spatial distance between celestial objects—takes learning to a new level.

Besides experiencing relative distance, each click of a button on the game-controller device brought new information to the virtual panel at the bottom of my field of (VR) vision. These displays provided a wealth of contextual details about the planets, moons, dwarf planets, and asteroids in our solar system, and two ginormous suns beyond—one bigger than our entire solar system, I get that now. After “experiencing” it, I really get that now.

At Ambient Insight, we focus on learning technology that has gained enough traction to be commercial, but sometimes you just have to look… well, far out.

 

Change That Matters

(Published on the Change That Matters blog, April 27, 2014.)

change-managementFirst of all, it’s critical to distinguish change that matters, from change that doesn’t. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? Not so much.

…I remember the first time I rented a car that had a GPS after-market thingy (it was attached to a stiff cable bolted to the floor, where a stick shift could have been). Driving my 80+ year old Dad out to dinner, I was bragging on it—for him, it was a BIG change, and he wasn’t sure he liked it. He bet me (literally – a Baltimore blue crab dinner) that if I purposely made a wrong turn, it would get confused and couldn’t find “its” way back to his house. That Chesapeake Bay blue crab dinner was soooo awesome.

Since then, the upgrades have provided more devices (stand-alone to smartphone) and more features (I like the red-yellow-green road colorations, indicating real-time traffic levels, and the “Make a LEGAL U-turn” advice in Australian English); but they aren’t the changes that matter.

What matters was the initial disruption—a technology that changed our choices for how we way-find: Big map that never folds up right again, or non-judgmental little device that now does everything except make an iced latte.

Learning technologies are changing the way we educate our children and ourselves. For example, location-based learning is the love-child of location-based services (LBS) and mobile learning—it’s just-in-time learning, in situ.

Dow Days augmented reality app

“Dow Days” is an example of a Location-based Learning, augmented reality app that uses a mobile’s GPS and camera to go back in time and space to experience the 1967 peaceful-sit-in-turned-riot on the Madison, Wisconsin college campus.

 

It brings learning out of the classroom (the box) out to anywhere you are with your mobile device—in a museum reading more information than fits on a little card or in the field examining bugs on the forest floor or at the site where a historical event took place. It has changed learning by expanding the opportunities for learning—and that matters.

International Catalysts of Location-based Learning

Figure from Ambient Insight’s Worldwide Mobile Location-based Learning Market: 2011-2016 Forecast and Analysis

 

 

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