Recently I attended a presentation from four leading academics presenting fascinating pieces of their research in ICT for education. It was a special event for employees in my group (Intel’s Education Market Platforms Group, which is focused on designing and deploying purpose-built technology for K-12 education around the world), and I thought I would share some of the highlights with our ecosystem.
The event featured the following speakers: Dr. Chris Dede from Harvard, Dr. Robert Tinker from the Concord Consortium, Dr. Elliot Soloway from the University of Michigan, and Dr. Roy Peafrom Stanford, with Dr. Wayne Grant (EMPG’s Director of Research & Planning) moderating the discussion.
Dr. Dede focused his presentation on EcoMUVE, which he described as an “Alice In Wonderland” style virtual world that allows students to figuratively dive into an ecosystem (like a pond or forest) over a period of four weeks, investigating their surroundings, gathering data, and developing hypotheses in a vividly real environment that would be impossible in a typical classroom.
Dr. Tinker highlighted 13 ways that technology adds proven value to STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). He talked about how you can use technology to simultaneously teach concepts that are normally taught separately even though they are connected. For example, by letting students build an atomic model to explain how detergent breaks down oil (like the stuff floating around in the Gulf of Mexico last year), you can teach solubility, assembly, and folding at the same time.
Dr. Soloway focused on the Age of Mobilism, looking at devices in three categories – mobile, carry along, and laptop. In an era where smartphones are taking over, and where children too young to read or even speak are using mobile devices, Dr. Soloway thinks of the Age of Mobilism as an environment where mobile devices allow people to be connected to technology, not “anytime, anywhere, but “all the time, everywhere.”
Moving into discussion of several technology deployments around the world, he addressed the question of loss through an example of a school piloting 80 mobile devices. At the end of the school year the students had lost only lost five styluses. Why? Because the kids loved using their devices, and they knew that if they came to school without them, they’d be handed a pencil and a piece of paper!
Dr. Pea focused on the importance of informal learning and reminded us that you spend only a tiny fraction of your life in school (although it may not feel like that at the time!). He highlighted the intensely social nature of learning, and the ability of technology to amplify the social aspects of learning. He believes that technology can be harnessed to help people leave their mark on the world (his definition of “agency”) as well to lower the barriers of gender and racial bias.
Overall it was an excellent deep dive into some very important concepts with implications for not only product design but how technology can be deployed more effectively inside and outside of the classroom. I know it was inspiring for me and my Intel colleagues, and I hope it gives you some food for thought as well.