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.

 

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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

 

 

North America Edugame Market Report Released

If you’re a Mobile Learning supplier, you can thank parents in North America for doing their part in boosting the market for mobile Game-based Learning products and services.

LittleBoyWithTabletGrowth of the North America mobile edugame market—12.5% compound annual growth (CAGR)—is strongest at two ends of the age spectrum: young children (math and language learning) and elders (brain trainers and brain fitness).

However, the brain trainer market is no longer exclusively the province of elders. Savvy suppliers are producing products for youngsters as well; parents see the value in getting a competitive head start (or help staying on track with concentration training).

Lumosity is reaching out to EVERYONE via their massive media marketing campaign that includes paid search, print, and radio. (National Public Radio does seem a logical fit as a “sponsor” venue.)

One of the interesting trends I’ve been watching in the Game-based Learning market is the increasing use of data–data to drive decisions for developers and platform providers and data shared with parents to offer them increased engagement opportunities with their youngsters who are playing edugames.

Periple au coeur de la colonie

“Journey into the Colonies” by Arcane Technologies

 

The key word in edugames is: engagement. Schools purchase edugames (packaged content) to increase student engagement.

MurderAtTheMet

“Murder At the Met” by Green Door

 

 

 

Nonprofits and all levels of government purchase content services or create their own edugames to attract and engage visitors to their museums, parks, and other cultural or heritage destinations. Location-based Learning games continue to rise, however augmented reality games have not enjoyed the same success.

For more info on buyers and the catalysts and inhibitors for this thriving market, download the free Executive Overview of the 2013-2018 North America Mobile Edugame Market, which you can find on Ambient Insight’s Game-based Learning Research page. The 76-page report goes into detail about trends and buying behaviors, and identifies the total addressable market for six distinct types of mobile edugames product types.

 

 

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Dubai – mEducation in the Desert

GSMAThe GSMA Connected Living Middle East Summit in Dubai in November 2013 brought together mobile network operators, device manufacturers, and NGOs active in mEducation (Mobile Learning) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Slides we presented highlighted key findings from Ambient Insight’s Mobile Learning research and forecasts for 2012-2017 in a closed session for GSMA members. (We compiled data from two regional reports—Middle East and Africa—to deliver the MENA outlook.)

 AI Research banner

The Wednesday session on mEducation for Skills Development and Employability focused on “equipping young people throughout the Middle East and North Africa with the skills to enter the workforce through the use of mobile technology.” Presenters included Joe Yousr Battikh, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Ericcson; Lauren Dawes, Head of Mobile for Employment and mEducation Regional Lead, GSMA, Africa; George Held, Vice President of Commerce, Etisalat Group; Yomna El Meshad, Head of Mobile Learning, British Council; Mr Chams Ouerdiane, Proinvest/Tunisiana partner; and Yazeed Sheqem, Director of Business Development, Souktel.

Tyson and Hannah Dubai 2013-cc

Ambient Insight’s Tyson Greer and GSMA’s Hannah Metcalfe

The topic was well chosen, given high rates of unemployment and mobile penetration in the MENA region. GSMA’s Lauren Dawes reported that the MENA region is plagued by 32% unemployment (73 million), which is nearly three times the 12% rate of worldwide unemployment.

Mobile penetration in the region is the highest on the planet. Kuwait and Oman are the only countries in the world with mobile subscription rates over 200%.  Lauren Dawes also noted that “71% would spend their last $10 to top up their mobiles, rather than on food.” 

Given the high mobile penetration rate, it’s not surprising that mEducation has outpaced eLearning. The compound annual growth rate (2012-2017) for Mobile Learning in 15 MENA countries is 18% and for six of those countries, it is over 50%. High growth rates typically mean market opportunity.

Telecoms in the MENA region have responded to opportunities to deliver mEducation value added services (VAS). At the end of 2011, there were three Mobile Learning VAS in three countries; by the end of September 2013, there were 14 in six countries.

In spite of the impressive growth of Mobile Learning VAS, there are challenges–for the sustainability of the product type and for mobile network operators.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects risk failure because, to take an example from the real world, if a company goes in and builds a well and it breaks a year or two later, there’s likely no one to go back in and fix it. Likewise, without a revenue model, a VAS project can be difficult to sustain.

Morning Dubai 2013-11-16 004The Connected Living Summit was held in the extraordinary city of Dubai, a stunning study in contrasts. In a very few decades the city catapulted itself from a fishing village into a dazzling example of technology with the waters of the Persian Gulf on one side and the Arabian desert on the other.

 

Tyson with Harris Hawk

Ambient Insight CEO Tyson Greer flying a Harris Hawk.

The city can boast the tallest (if you discount another’s claim as an antenna, rather than architectural feature) building on the planet, water systems, and the efficient user-friendly in-city trains.

The desert gave us an opportunity for a remarkable first-hand experience at flying raptors at the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

 

 

 

 

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