Archive for July, 2012

Blink twice and you’re on the internet: Augmenting reality with new technologies

Arizona State University‘s Dr Mina Johnson-Glenberg recently made some interesting observations in her presentation, titled Embodied, Gesture-based Learning – Mixed Reality and Serious Games at a Learning & Teaching Research Cluster meeting here at Macquarie University.  Her research looks at the impact of embodiment and gesture on the learning that occurs in virtual settings. Some of her research programs involve getting students away from computer screens and into display spaces that require gestural input to make things happen.

According to Dr. Johnson-Glenberg we’re about six years away from having commercially available contact lenses with built in displays, capable of putting up a net browser or augmenting the visual reality with additional text-based information.

Here’s an amusing and slightly dystopian view from Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo. on how augmented reality might work in a personal sense:

Sight from Vimeo.

The video clip from Keiichi Matsuda, below,is another commercially-enhanced view of how augmented reality might appear from the user’s point of view:

Augmented (hyper)Reality: Domestic Robocop from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

The Google Glass project incorporates a single-eye heads-up browser/data display into a lightweight headband. The latest version also captures and shares video. Like Dr Johnson-Glenberg, Google seems keen to get people away from the desktop and more into the (augmented) environment. The design team made deliberate choices about the positioning of the image viewer (above the direct line of sight, monocular only), presumably to discourage people from viewing while driving or walking into traffic.  Like mobile phones, this technology offers incredible advantages such as access to instant information for its users, but also come with its own risks in terms of personal safety.

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The MOOC experience: Learning in free online courses

A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offers anyone with the time and and an internet connection to explore a large range of educational topics in depth,  usually for no cost apart from net connection fees.  Available topics range from complex courses on micro-electronics that duplicate face-to-face courses taught at institutions such as MIT, to less formal, peer-driven courses based on a community of enquiry model.

One of the great things about the internet’s expanding web of connections around the world is the increasingly large number of free online education opportunities that come with it. The MIT/Harvard consortium called edX has recently added UC Berkeley to the mix, making it the first consortium to include a public university in offering free not-for-credit courses, according to this article in the Los Angeles Times.

The MOOC early-adopter institutions include Stanford University in California, offering videos of Masters course lectures in the late 1990s, MIT with OpenCourseware and more recently with MITx, Yale University’s Open Yale courses, and the Open University‘s LearningSpace in the UK.

Peer-driven learning spaces rely on the enthusiasm of learners who are curious enough about a topic to freely offer what they know already or to join a group of learners who may help them to learn further.  A good example is Peer to Peer University (P2PU), which describes its mission as providing a place where: “people work together to learn a particular topic by completing tasks, assessing individual and group work, and providing constructive feedback”.

Acquiring knowledge for its own sake is one thing, but some learners want acknowledgement of the time and effort they put into learning a new skill or discipline, either to reinforce feelings of self-worth or to enhance their future job prospects.  Mozilla Open Badges caters for learners who want visible recognition of the skills they have acquired online or out of school by offering badges that represent attainment in online courses or projects run by affiliated members.

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