Fast forward to 2022 where the world survived one of the worst (probably the worst) pandemics in history. The world we live in now is a completely new one where online education, working from home, digital publications and cashless economy have become the new normal. With rising inflation and cost of living, many of us in this new world are struggling to make ends meet. Add to that the new burden of setting up a home office with all the latest tech capable of facilitating your work from home arrangements satisfying your contractual obligations and buying computers for all your kids because they now need them for school. All of a sudden, we can’t afford to throw away technology or anything for that matter. Enter the Circular Economy or CE.
First of all, thanks to all of you who showed a keen interest in Frankensteining PC to Chromebook and Cloud Printing on Wired Printer. I received many emails and messages from parents who really appreciated how obsolete tech can be re-purposed for the new #learnfromhome pedagogy, while saving hundreds of dollars. It is ironic that I continue to write these blogs on re-purposing old crap because I'm a devout advocate of throwaway technology. However, a major component of the throwaway technology philosophy is to buy tech cheap and not pay premium. i.e. if you paid a thousand dollars for a piece of premium tech for your kid, you wouldn't be reading this blog.
My Son in kindergarten has been doing well in using the old $150 Chromebook which was handed down to him by big sister. Although this cheap Lenovo Chromebook has a 180-degree rotating camera, it was not the ideal device for him to record his homework and submit to is teacher on #googleclassroom. Further, he had difficulty interacting with some of the storybooks and exercises using a keyboard/touchpad combo. So, obviously, I had to buy him a tablet...
If you are a Chromebook user, you would know that it is next to impossible to print with the damn thing unless you have a WiFi enabled/Cloud-ready printer. Chrome OS had no support for wired printing when I first bought my Chromebook a few years back. Option one is to fork out over CAD100 to buy a WiFi enabled/cloud-ready printer so that the kids can print from their Chromebooks and option two is to figure out how I can Frankenstein my sub $30 crappy printer (after digging it up from the garage) to work with Chrome OS - I chose OPTION TWO. BTW, now that it is cloud ready, you can pretty much print on it from any computer connected to the internet through a Chrome browser. No fuss wireless/cloud printing using a crappy sub $30 wired printer which was dug up from a box in the garage.
As we move into the second agonizing month of being stuck at home due to COVID-19, I was glad to see that my daughter's school here in Ontario, Canada was taking the steps to setup online learning via Google Classroom. Why Google Classroom, I don't know but I am guessing it was the natural fit for her classroom EdTech environment built around Chromebooks. However, the joy was short lived when I received an email from the school informing me that my Son, who is in kindergarten at the same school, will also be using Google Classroom for his online learning. Now at this point you might be wondering why my joy was short lived when both kids are due to continue their schoolwork from home - it was because I only had one Chromebook at home which now needed to be shared between a kindergartner and a fourth-grader (only parents with more than one kid will get it).
Although there probably aren't any true AI at present other than fictional characters such as Jarvis, Ultron, Vision and those in universal soldier, iRobot and Ex Machina, not to mention Skynet (I'm sure many of the educational evangalists haven't even heard of), I couldn't stop imagining what a first encounter with a true AI would look like.
I believe that the solution is multifaceted and involves governments, institutions, teachers, parents, learners and civil society organizations working together towards a better future for the peoples. Since I’m in a transition period in my career, I thought I’d give this some serious thought. This led to the conceptualization of the “Community Books” OER model.
VR is a hot topic in the education circles these days, and for good reason. With access increasing and cost decreasing, technology has finally enabled us to use VR in an effective manner to deliver teaching and learning in immersive environments. Some of you might remember my tweets on strapping a 360-degree camera to my head during my first immersive video shoot in Banff, Canada. Following up, I thought I’d tell you how it went.
So realistically, how can OER reduce the cost of textbooks for our students?
I have been trying to figure out a solution for this issue the past three years. I still don’t have a tried and tested model or a convincing answer which will help in the mainstreaming of OER in these developing nations. However, I believe that the solution is multifaceted and involves governments, institutions, teachers, parents, learners and civil society organizations working together towards a better future for the peoples.
All these years in the OER game and I couldn’t see the wood for the trees! I’m happy to finally see the wood for the trees when it comes to propagating the OER movement. I continue to believe that OER can do to education what FOSS did to software. However, I don’t believe that training people in the “theory” of OPEN will lead to any sort of sustainability. They will not come just because I built it. Skill them and they will come is my new approach to OER.
When it comes to learning material, many of us still think of two-dimensional content consisting of text, images, video and multimedia viewed on a screen or printed on paper. Among the many, there are a growing few who have started to see teaching and learning in 3D where materials are either made virtual or augmented to create far richer and immersive learning experiences. Increasingly, many governments and institutions around the world are making major investments in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies for education under the broader umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI). However, many of these investments remain isolated pilot projects which tease at what education could look like in the near future but likely won’t due to scalability.