What is natural user interface (NUI)?

You may have heard the term NUI or natural user interface tossed around. It refers to a computer interface that is devoid of peripherals such as a keyboard or mouse.  Instead the human body is used to interact with the computer.  If the idea seems abstract, think about the movie Minority Report…


Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect is probably the most well known device that currently offers the opportunity to use NUI.  Its latest version recognizes a user’s body movements, facial gestures, voice inflection and even heart rate.  From an educational perspective, this opens the door for many interesting implementations.  This can allow for a possible multi-sensory educational experience unlike any we’ve seen before.  Students can operate with the learning modality that best suits them. The potential positive outcome of increased confidence in educational endeavors could change the academic trajectory of many students; particularly those with learning disabilities or many on the autistic spectrum.  There are obvious challenges to overcome such as cost, expertise and proper implementation, to name a few.  But that doesn’t mar the endless possibilities that such engaging, intuitive technology presents.


Technology is great, but teachers…WE STILL NEED YOU!

If you have followed my blog its obvious that I am a huge proponent of integrating technology into instruction and learning.  That being said, there is no way technology could ever replace teachers…GOOD teachers!  You know, the ones who stay up nights trying to figure out how to present the course material such that it resonates with that one kid that has sunk to the back of the class.  The ones who’s empathy outweighs and enhances their pedagogical approach.  The ones who look to steadily sharpen their skills and mastery of their craft.  The ones who provide confidence boosters to students who have stumbled.  The ones who mentor as much as they teach.  Yup…you’re the ones I’m talking to.  Our educational system breaks down without you.   We need you, appreciate you and applaud you!  THANK YOU!!!

ALL schools should be STEM schools!

As we look at what education should afford our children, a major consideration should be the ability to keep pace or gain an advantage in a given industry, ANY industry.  We have come uopn a time where technology is so interwoven into every part of society that those who are not adroit in using it will surely fall behind their more adept peers.  Simply put…no tech, no top!  When we look at STEM education we should always make reference to an interdisciplinary approach that aims to cultivate a deeper understanding of each subject through an emphasis on the interrelated nature of science, technology, engineering, and math. It is essential that we focus on the collective nature of all the STEM subjects and the necessity of implementing an interdisciplinary approach rather than treating the individual subjects as disconnected islands. Promoting STEM understanding will lead to increased ability to use analytical approaches to all educational endeavors, as well as master the skill of problem solving while applying this practice across all subjects. What school/student couldn’t use that type of development? The reality is that in order to best position our students for success, we MUST embrace STEM education!

Wait a minute…I can get college credit for a MOOC now??

MOOCs have gained a lot of exposure recently.  For those wondering, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.   Its a free online class that offers many of the same learning opportunities as some of the most popular distance learning institutions.  People have been flocking to them recently as an inexpensive alternative to traditional colleges as well as tuition based online schools.  Most in the educational world haven’t taken MOOCs seriously because one could not receive college credit for a completed course.  That is about to change.

Coursera recently announced that The American Council on Education‘s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has recommended that 5 Coursera courses receive consideration for college credit.  This is a HUGE milestone.  Over 2,000 colleges and Universities use ACE CREDIT recommendations when deciding whether to accept transfer credits.  The only monetary investment one would need to make is $60 to $90 for the proctored exam and $30 to $99 for the Signature Track, according to Coursera.

So the inevitable question is what financial impact will this have in the higher education space?  Is this just a mosquito bite on an elephant or is this the beginning of a major paradigm and educational landscape shift?  We shall soon see.

Its the middle of winter break and its snowing but we still need Phys Ed. Kinect to the rescue!

Every parent has been there.  There are still 5 days left during winter break.  Your child(ren) is(are) driving you crazy because there is a snow storm outside and they have enough built up energy to power a small 3rd world nation.  You hear the second glass vase of the day break in the next room and the thought crosses your mind to toss them out into the storm and test that fortitude that they have been cultivating since their toddler years (thank goodness the angel on your left shoulder convinces you not to do it).  So what can you do???  Well, if they were lucky enough to get and XBOX 360 Kinect from Santa, reprieve is not far away.  Microsoft has created wonderful games to help them (and YOU) burn off some of that energy (or turkey, mac & cheese, pie, cake, etc.).  One can dance, play, exercise or fight until they are pretty darn burnt out.  Check out some of the videos below…





Put the technology down and just read to her!!

I know this might seem extremely contradictory of me, the person that is constantly imploring you to leverage the opportunities that technology affords to engage students.  And you can bet your backside I will continue to do that tomorrow because I truly believe that is the key to moving our students along the critical thinking spectrum.  But today is not the day for that.  Today was the day for me to put the technology down, put my daughter in my lap and read to her her favorite princess book.  There is something that is irreplaceable about watching her anticipation grow as I turn to the next page where she knows the princess gets to wear that pretty dress that she loves.  There is a bond that is created in that moment that escapes words.  There is something that changes the value of the reading experience when she hears the story from daddy’s voice.  And that is something that technology will never ever replace!!!

Need to know which iPad apps to use in your classroom?

So the proliferation of iPads into the classroom shows no signs of letting up.  The obvious question in light of this is which applications make sense for educators.  Well I’ve come across a pretty good list that’s actually broken down into the following learning objectives…

  1. I want my students to record and edit video on the iPad. 
  2. I want my students to record and / or edit audio on the iPad.
  3. I want my students to read class content on the iPad. 
  4. I want my students to annotate course readings on the iPad 
  5. I want my students to be able to use audio books on the iPad. 
  6. I want my students to use the iPad as a digitial notebook / note-taking device. 
  7. I want my students to use their iPads to create screencasts to share and demonstrate their understanding.
  8. I want my students to create presentations on the iPad. 
  9. I want my students to create digital stories on the iPad. 
  10. I want my students to be able to study with the iPad. 
  11. I want to use the iPad as a student response system. 
  12. I want my students to create written content on the iPad. 
  13. I want my students to blog on the iPad.
  14. I want my students to create ePubs / iBooks to read on the iPad.
  15. I want my students to create and edit images on the iPad.
  16. I want to use the iPad in order to create a language lab environment for my students.
  17. I want my students to use the iPad to stay organized. (NEW)
  18. I want to use the iPad to conduct video / virtual conferences in the classroom (NEW)
  19. I want to control my computer or Interactive White Board from my iPad. (NEW)

Definitely check this site out… http://www.edtechteacher.org/index.php/teaching-technology/mobile-technology-apps/ipad-as