CNN points out how the entire world was watching a runaway balloon float through the sky today as the 6yr old boy named Falcon was believed to be on it somehow. He turned out to be hiding in the attic, but the social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, allowed people from all over the world not only to watch this story but also to talk about it as it was happening.
This morning, I was waiting for an oil change on my car and instead of looking at those mind numbing magazines and drinking mechanic shop coffee, I went to the nearby B&B cafe. It has wireless, so I answered work email, chatted with a colleague and played a word game with about 50 strangers (all 50 at once) all on a device that fits in my pocket.
My work calendar, folders, email accounts all sync so that I have upto date information wherever there is wireless. I can also check my geo-location, the world clock, the stock market, the weather report, etc. I can work, talk and play with others, all in "real time," immediately and publicly. In a coffee shop.
Technology blog ReadWriteWeb, (syndicated by the NYT) is hosting a Real-Time Web Summit. Today! Many industry leaders are there (Google, Yahoo!, etc). They are streaming some sessions live and also have a Twitter feed on their website. This is about stuff like video conferencing, chatting, interactive apps, things that allow users to interact online at the same time, to be co-present, and to have immediate and shared data.
Here is a blurb about the keynote address by Marshall Kirkpatrick:
"Marshall stressed the fact that real time doesn't just mean speed but also creates value by including presence data, flow and data syncing. All of this, according to Marshall, will lead to radical changes in how users will experience the Web in the near future."
I just leaned about TokBox, which seems equally as promising as Tinychat. Watch the video on their website to see how it works. This is another free program that does not require any downloads, allows for multiple person video chats and is very intuitive.
See the Mobile Libraries' blogpost that describes various iPhone apps for visualizing the body.
Press Release > Oct. 8, 2009 - University of Utah researchers created new iPhone programs - known as applications or "apps" - to help scientists, students, doctors and patients study the human body, evaluate medical problems and analyze other three-dimensional images.
One of our online instructors asked about being able to have a video conference with her students. She wanted multiple people to log in from home with web cams and be able to see one another and talk. After doing some research and finding out that Skype only does one-to-one video chats, I found Mebeam and Tinychat. Tinychat seems most promising so far. Read this review of it. If you have a web cam and a mic, you can start a meeting, invite friends, see them all on video (if they have web cams too), hear them talk (if they have a mic), record the meeting, share your computer screen and text chat as well.
Just be careful and don't log in with your Twitter account because you will end up posting the chat room URL on Twitter. Then anyone can come into your chat room and start text chatting with you and all of your chats will post on Twitter. Moreover, if you feed your Tweets to Facebook, the chats will post to Facebook as well. That's what happened to me when I tried out the program for the first time. That's the danger of all these social networking crossovers. But also the cool part, if you do it intentionally.
Are you interested in recording high quality phone interviews? Watch this video from the The Conversations Network. It explains how to use Skype for recording. The person that you are talking to can have any type of phone or also be on Skype and you can call anywhere in the world to do this.
I just got an iTouch to learn how all those apps and mobile technologies in general are being used for education. An iTouch is like an iPhone but without the phone part. It connects through free wireless wherever it is available and is much cheaper than the iPhone because it doesn't require a subscription with AT&T. Its allure are the "apps" (applications) that users download through iTunes. Many of them are free, others cost money. For example, one GPS mapping app costs $1.99. It allows you to track your travel path, map it and share it online. Another app that's completely free(!), Carbon Tracker, allows you to track your personal carbon footprint. The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a free app that recommends up-to-date and location specific safe seafood. Potentially great tools for a class that deals with environmental issues. So far, learning how to work the machine has been very intuitive. It is really possible to learn how to navigate the iTouch without ever reading the manual as long as you are comfortable pushing buttons over and over again to see what they do. Navigating the iTouch is different than using a computer or a phone. Yet, there are just enough affordances and references to what most computer users already know from other technologies, that allow quick mastery of the system. I was able to add some apps, set up my email and connect to wireless networks within minutes of turning the iTouch on for the first time. The apps pretty much make up the entire interface. Each of those icons is an application that does something. There are the usual suspect like a calculator, browser, calendar and email which are already installed. All new apps that you download, come with their own icon that shows up on the screen when you turn on your iTouch. I am really intrigued by this process of intuitively figuring out a new digital technology. I can see how the problem solving skills from playing games come in handy. Periodically, I get flashbacks from my brief addiction to the computer game Myst. Years ago I spent hours on end trying to make my way through various puzzles as a digital explorer. I am convinced that this experience was key in teaching me the skills that are so often required of us today: learning through exploring, making mistakes, persevering, and constantly figuring out new puzzles. So far, I've tried out a few apps. The map is pretty exciting. It allows you to locate yourself wherever you are as long as there is a wireless connection. I've also uploaded a Facebook app and tried out blogging. The screen and the typing are still a bit too small for comfortable writing, but I am getting better at it and you can zoom in by dragging your fingers apart on the screen.
This website recommends 50 apps for teaching, such as Atom in a Box, that helps visualize the Hydrogenic atomic orbitals; iPresident, which provides details on all of the Presidents of the United States of America; Classics, which gets you access to some of the classics of literature, and allows you to read them just like a real book; and School of Rock, which teaches students the fundamentals of music. In my view, this has exciting potential for learning and engaging students long distance as well as in the classroom. I am looking forward to trying out these apps.