‘That’s Getting Personal! – Tech Just Around the Corner’

By Phil Youngblood

Hey professors! What are you going to do when your students walk in wearing Google Glass?

After all, it is not as if they are pulling out their mobile devices and staring down at them instead of you. They will be looking straight at you and you will never know if their device is off or if they are catching up on Facebook, recording everything you say and do, or Skypping friends.

But then again they may be googling things you say to get more information or examples (which they could share with the class if you let them) or texting classmates to clarify what you just said. (See www.magnapubs.com/ blog/teaching-and-learning/cell-phones-in-class-a-student-survey/).

People worldwide are finding ways to use technology to get around social rules and restrictions on its use – using Bluetooth, for example, to talk with others in sight, including those of the opposite gender, even in societies where social interaction and social media is more restricted.

Students are smart and “tech will find a way.” Welcome to the world with “no delete button,” as Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has written. The only way to live within it will be to talk and act at all times in a way you would not mind anyone to scrutinize. Interesting thought.

On the other hand, these new technologies will make it increasingly able to help you to engage students in learning like never before. See http://sites.uiw.edu/techfair/ for technologies that teachers and students are using right now which they shared at the UIW Tech Fair 2013, then think about how you could use technology to enhance your learning environment. Maybe watch a video by a subject expert or visit a website that complements or supplements your lesson. Maybe find a way to get out of the classroom with your lesson such as having students use Twitter to concisely describe in full sentences, in English or a modern language, what they see or are doing or plan to do as you walk around campus. Maybe use applicable mobile apps to access and evaluate and synthesize all that information and experience out there beyond the classroom. Can you imagine what you could do with Google Glasses?

There is no dearth of projections about the future, but Corning Glass has projected the technology of the future classroom, work space, and home at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZkHpNnXLB0, a future in which we will be able to personalize not only our computer desktops but our classroom and work desktops, not only our social media profiles but the flat and curved surface profiles of our furniture, appliances, windows and buildings. Glass surfaces will become interactive and transparent, enabling collaboration and sharing of information between objects and a virtual “face-to-face” experience.

In addition to empowering teachers and students, new personal technologies will empower all of us. It is the state of medicine today that your coffee barista may know more about you than your doctor. The Smartphone Physical (see www.smartphonephysical.org/) could give you the power to conduct your own physical exam, or to at least monitor measurements that hitherto were only conducted in a medical facility and send the data to your physician if there are any detected problems or changes between physicals – such tests as your weight, BMI, daily calorie intake, visceral fat rating, blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, visual acuity (yes, a portable eye test, including a photo of the optic disk at the back of your eye), a look at the ear’s tympanic membrane, lung function (forced expiratory volume, etc.), ECG (one moveable lead), digital stethoscope, and an ultrasound transducer!

Speaking of “personal,” you may have heard about 3D printing, but have you heard of bioprinting? See http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50145767n for an example of how customized human organs such as blood vessels, ears and kidneys may soon be printed using stem cells.

In 2013 I am writing about the global impact of computer technologies. As always I invite your feedback, dialogue and differing opinions on this topic.


E-mail Youngblood, head of the Computer Information Systems program at the University of the Incarnate Word, at youngblo@uiwtx.edu

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