Revolutions: Agriculture, Industrial then and now AI (Artificial Intelligence) Revolution

The last presentation during my EC&I 833 class was about Generative AI. The presenters’ content took the audience on a journey of mixed emotions. Some were dazed, others (like me) confused or scared and some were thrilled, others were inquisitive…. Woah…..what a subject!!

I have always found the name – “Faustian Bargain” so apt for the computer technology- so whether it is AI, WWW…..  You gain some and you lose some. Ideally I look at AI as transformative  and has the caliber to transport us into a “qualitatively different future”. Therefore the title- Agriculture, Industrial and then AI revolution.

How many of us can imagine living in a world without AI- how comfortable would it be to survive without Siri waking you up, the GPS system and maps helping navigate, the smart software and apps that are favs in the workplace or finding the best tickets for travel, ordering food, grocery, or for that matter shopping online? If we narrow down to education: it’s a whirlwind of AI in education? how many of us could have imagined the kind of learning platform that exist now; adjusting the lessons personally for every one!! That’s what DreamBox and Knewton are doing. They use AI to tweak learning materials in real-time, making sure each student gets the most out of their lessons. In my EC & I sessions my class mates introduced me to some outstanding educational tools like like Socrative, Mentimeter, Padlet, Quizlet, Kahoot etc  that make assessment and student engagement effortless. Thus making the learning process more engaging, personalized and interactive. They give detailed feedback, letting teachers focus more on teaching and less on grading. So, AI isn’t just a buzzword; it surely has worthwhile substance and has made education more personalized, efficient, and interactive. How cool is that?

AI has entered everyone’s life; so be it; student, elders, professionals( all professions that you can think of) at all levels, industry etc: it looks difficult to subtract AI out of the whole system. However, the damage can also be potentially great. The systems can be corrupted, it can be trained to affect the physical, mental, emotional security at any level. The video that was shared in one of our classes on AI also mentioned Elon Musk calling it “Catastrophic” and worldwide people talking about regulating it so that it does not become a Faustian bargain.

Very recently I saw a bolly wood movie and here is the clip where the main character is a Robot and it is disturbing to see and imagine: if something like this will ever happen in the future.:

https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxLNiUs7TDM7M6YqK1jf90WDuu-3O_GUwp

It is disturbing to see and imagine: if something like this will ever happen in the future.

One famous quote on AI is by Stephen Hawking, a renowned theoretical physicist:

“Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.” – Stephen Hawking

Inclusive Learning with Assistive Technology

My only tryst with Assistive technology has been Siri, Assistive touch or text- to -speech. My first profound moment was in my Edtech class where a group of students presented on Assistive technology but I was humbled and touched when I saw the video shared by one of my classmates:

Assistive Technology: Enabling Dreams – From voice-activated software to customized laptops, tech is changing the way disabled students communicate, learn, and play.

Technology to me has always represented itself as a – Faustian Bargain however when I look at assistive technology; it looks like a blessing to many people who are differently abled. People who could showcase their capabilities to the world despite the challenges they faced. It reminds me of one of my client whose daughter ( I will call her Sarah) had some learning disability and when I today recall the instances when she hated studying(in a traditional school), preferred doing everything her way; my heart goes out to her and I wish someone introduced her to the assistive technology which could have made learning a matter of joy and ease.  Like many students, Sarah faced challenges in keeping up with traditional instruction methods.

The video sheds light on the transformative power of assistive technology in addressing many challenges that may prevent many learners to do what they love doing. It emphasized the importance of understanding students’ experiences with assistive technology and the obstacles they face. Many students, like those featured in the video, shared their struggles with traditional learning methods and highlighted the profound impact that assistive technology has had on their academic success. The case of Lukas who loved playing euphonium horn is truly inspirational for many. Lukas courage, passion and will plus the technology helped him become a part of the Jazz band and a full fledged musician. Like wise all achievements of Sarah, Vishal were partly because of assistive technology. The video was personally very informative for me and emphasized how incorporating assistive technology into various instructional formats – whether face-to-face, blended, or online can be life changing for students. By doing so, educators can ensure that content is accessible to all students, regardless of their learning styles or abilities.

Having seen and read content on Assistive technology I feel there are many myths about assistive technology for learning. The first myth is assistive technology is for students with special needs. It is actually a way to enhance the quality of learning
The second myth is about cost of assistive technology that it is expensive and countries with low resources cannot afford them. Some gadgets or technology may be unaffordable but an empathetic and intelligent teacher would always make its way

The third myth is that assistive technology is highly advanced technology. But in reality assistive technology is an application of basic engineering technology for learning. The euphonium horn of Lukas is an example of that.

https://www.augsburg.edu/class/groves/assistive-technology/everyone/

I was introduced to Immersive Reader and C Pen in one of our classes and they were showcased as invaluable resources in supporting students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Immersive Reader facilitates more effective engagement with text by providing features like text-to-speech and customizable font settings. Meanwhile, CPen allows students to access printed material independently, promoting autonomy and confidence in their learning.

As an educator, I today decide, I will also use Assistive technology as a tool to make education/knowledge inclusive for all and try and create for them; an opportunity to succeed.

Assessments landscape – “Where the mind is without fear and the Head is held High”

This quote by Rabindranath Tagore comes to mind today while writing this blog on Assessments. One of my most dreaded experiences as a high school student was facing my final exams, particularly the dreaded Math assessment. The weeks leading up to the exams felt like a marathon of cramming every formula and concept, trying to stuff my brain with as much information as possible. And then, sitting through those grueling three-hour tests, feeling bogged, dizzy as I struggled to recall everything I had memorized. The anxiety was palpable, knowing that the results would determine so much of my academic future. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget, and even now, it sends chills down my spine just thinking about it……Lol. As a facilitator, I think the traditional summative assessments, like final exams, put students in a high-stakes environment where the performance is judged solely based on memorization and rote learning. For students like me, this approach can be stressful and demotivating. The fear of failure looms large, leading to anxiety and even physical symptoms like sleeplessness, nausea.

However, the 21st century transported us into the technologically advanced world of education. The emphasis on formative assessment, gamification in the Edtech world brought about empowering changes in the pedagogy of learning and evaluation. Unlike traditional assessments, which can feel like daunting obstacles, gamified learning environments are designed to be engaging, interactive, and enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WxvVgXC_NY

Assessment Technologies in Education: In the modern classroom, assessment technologies have become indispensable companions for educators seeking to enhance their teaching practices. The Learning Management systems have not only helped in connecting the teacher and learner but also lowered the administrative burden. The pandemic brought about more popularity for the applications like Google classroom, Zoom, MS teams, Kahoot, Mentimeters, Jamboarding etc. The learning theory of connectivism popularized these Edtech tools by emphasizing the significance of digital networks, collaboration, personalization, data-driven decision making, thereby integration the informal learning experiences with the learning process. These tools provide learners with opportunities to connect, collaborate, and engage with content in meaningful ways within digital learning environments. A few days back, my classmates in Edtech course, gave a group presentation on some wonderful assessment application like: Socrative, ZipGrade, and Mathletics. The tools were really impressive in what they could do with great effectiveness and efficiency!! The Zipgrade tool for assessment was impressive in how it eliminated extra work for teachers and gave instant feedback. And One of the most important aspects about feedback in classroom is that it should be timely, reinforcing and redirectional.  This helps teacher focus more on instructional activities. I remember how our teachers would carry bundles of papers back home or from one class to another and check them whenever they had free time. On the other hand, Socrative offers interactive quizzes, fostering active engagement, facilitating personalized learning experiences alongwith real-time feedback. Similarly, Mathletics helps students to hone their mathematical skills through gamified learning modules and adaptive assessments, catering to diverse learning styles and abilities. These tools gamify the evaluation and therefore remove the fear associated with the process of evaluation. Positive reinforcement, such as badges or rewards for completing tasks, can motivate students to engage with the material and persist in their learning.

The Shift Towards Formative Assessment:

Assessments play a large part in the learning of students and our understanding as teachers. . If evaluation finds teaching learning process satisfactory, it motivates the teachers and students to work harder for better results. And while summative assessments are important, the true understanding of learning comes from the formative kind

The assessment tools also contribute to making evaluation more formative than summative. They take away the administrative burden unlike the traditional methods of evaluation, are quick in implementation, cater to Visual, auditory and kinesthetic students equally and so it becomes easier for the facilitator/teacher to plan formative assessment. I personally feel that formative assessment lowers the fear factor amongst students and learning happens in the absence of fear. Unlike the usual end-of-term exams where students compete for higher marks; the formative assessment is about continuous feedback in bits and pieces. If evaluation finds teaching learning process satisfactory, it motivates the teachers and students to work harder for better results. This move towards formative assessment promotes growth and empowerment in learners, rather than just focusing on grades and labeling students. It’s more about the journey of learning rather than the destination of a final grade.

The technology has not only empowered the teachers but also the students. Every individual in some way is the owner of one’s education, development and growth. The organization/schools no more completely control the education process (Rigby, 2015)

References

Rigby, C. S. (2015). Gamification and motivation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formative_assessment

EC&I 833 – Web Evolution

The evolution of the web from 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 is quite a fascinating process that was presented to our class through our peers, Brianne, Sydney, and Jenni. The presentation unfolded the makings of each web blueprint and the subsequent theories attached to each design. I really enjoyed reading Thenmozhi Babu’s post that offered great videos of the nuanced differences between Web 1.0 to 3.0. Here is a short infographic that highlights the unique features of each web design.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/crypto-101-part-5-web-1-vs-2-3-erik-frederiksen

And here is one more infographic that shares an interesting perspective of the web blueprints.

https://bertugcaliskan.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/diffrences-between-web-1-0-web-2-0-and-web-3-0/

I wanted to dig a little deeper into Web 3.0 because as I read it, it feels more like a theory than it does a reality at this contemporary moment. Doing some more reading and researching on the topic, does reveal that it is more theory-based than actual reality. The thing that mostly sparked my cognition here focused on the theory of decentralization of web spaces, and in a way a dethroning of the capitalist nature of the internet. However, it could also be that we are only approaching this theory and perhaps we are only at the beginning. It does feel in my experience that the commodification and commercialization of the web are so deeply ingrained in our politics, culture, and social norms that utterly flipping them on their head would cause massive deconstruction and major shifts in our institutions and general societal structures. I think that is why it is so difficult to conceptualize the practical applications of Web 3.0 in our contemporary society that are not congruent with the theories of decentralization and shared autonomy.

As well, the volatility of cryptocurrency mixed with the ever-changing nature of NFTs creates immense challenges for a central blockchain-style economy to take presence in our modern world given the regulation and prevalence of banking institutions and politics. Now, I will not pretend that I am an expert in any of the fields listed above, but these are a few of my thoughts regarding the theories of Web 3.0 given my limited understanding of the concepts. And I would welcome any thoughts or comments on my ideas here.

Furthermore, I do find it a tad bit scary to think about the future of Web 3.0 given the rising tensions of the world dynamics, and even more challenging to think of the impacts of Web 4.0 on a global scale.

So, those a few of my thoughts regarding the theories of web 3.0 and how it may impact the world that we currently live in.

And on that note…I think I will close this post, but please let me know what your thoughts are on the nature of Web 3.0 and its potential impact on education.

ECI 833 – Online and Blended Learning Tools and their Relevance

The list is long when I think of online and blended learning tools that have been impacted by technology in my teaching career. There is an ever-changing list of tools that are introduced as a method to enhance learning. Still, often these new tools reflect older technology and dated epistemology and theories of learning. So, it is critical to examine and reflect on these new tools that enter the classroom via online or physical space and analyze if their impact connects to a more modern theory of learning that reflects deeper epistemological theories that represent a more holistic nature of the culture we are striving to help students adapt to. So, I say all this as a preamble to examine the various tools that I have been impacted by in my career that offer a greater method to deliver advancement in terms of learning.

1. Google Classroom.

Google Classroom has created an organized space for teachers to update all their coursework and classroom tasks for students to follow along and complete in a timely fashion. This productivity suite has greatly impacted the efficiency of allowing students a space to connect, collaborate, communicate, and engage with coursework and tasks to complete. All of their work is efficiently synced through Google products. I have found that this tool enhances my ability to reach students in the classroom, and many have commented on the positive impact it has had on their learning through its ease of access and simplicity. However, Google Classroom is mostly a teacher-friendly method for efficiently storing and organizing information for students to access connecting with more aspects of behaviorism and hopes of constructivism with advanced application.

2. Screencastify.

Screencastify is one example of a screen recording tool where I can utilize audio and visual as a method to record my lessons for students to watch when they are unable to attend class. I am a high school Math teacher and during Covid, I spent probably close to a hundred hours recording all of my lessons for students to view. Once these videos were recorded I have been able to continually utilize them for supplemental instruction and absent students. I would argue that students do receive not quite as good of instruction as in class because they miss any discussions or questions asked, but the videos are thorough enough. The video settings allow for students to pause and rewind which can make for a quick and easy fix for misunderstandings. I have allowed other teachers to use these videos in their classes, and many students have let me know how my lessons have helped them to understand a concept more deeply. It is also interesting to see how Screencastify was one of the tools listed on one of the websites for our weekly readings. I would also interject that I utilized a drawing pad in my lesson videos to accurately and efficiently display the math which has certainly helped in the validity and reliability of these videos. However, these screen-recorded videos do connect with the same theories of learning and epistemology of a simple whiteboard in the classroom, but I do feel it extends the reach of the classroom and sometimes enhances the learning for some students.

3. YouTube

Youtube combines audio and visual all in one place to maximize its accessibility and effectiveness. YouTube has become a critical aspect in my lessons to extend and sometimes enhance learning through unique contrast of audio and visual in an engaging way to connect with students. All of my lesson videos are uploaded to Youtube for students to view at any time and can be downloaded with an account, so students can even watch them without wifi. Although Youtube is only a website that stores content in the form of videos, it is impressive how its access can impact equity gaps through non-traditional methods of learning.

In closing, I only have three different tools listed above, but I think these differing forms of technology have in some method extended, advanced, or sometimes even changed education and learning through their accessibility. However, I can also see that each of these tools will inherently require access to wifi or a computer so there is still an issue of equity that is present in this technology. And, it might continually be a tough question to ever find an answer or solution to, but as we progress in education, I do think it is a vital part of our craft to reflect on.

Please let me know if there are any tools above that resonated with you in your career thus far, or others that are different from mine.

Thanks for reading!

The Productivity suites: suit the Education

10 Best Productivity Apps for Students

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, declares in Article 26, that, Education is a fundamental right, however, many around the world still don’t have it. The Evolution of the Virtual and Online learning has disrupted the comfort zones of many people around the world. Factors like climate change, economic struggles, and health issues have added to these struggles in many ways. But as said:  

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein 

And here’s where technology steps in to save!

Today, I feel, digital productivity tools are like superheroes for education. These tools give the power to create, problem-solve, and express like never before. They’re not just about getting stuff done quicker; they’re about unlocking creativity so then whether it’s building models, organizing thoughts, collecting data, or showcasing the work. Productivity and creativity tools support users in constructing models, publishing, planning and organizing, mapping concepts, generating material, collecting data, developing and presenting other creative works (Paulus et al., 2013; Tsatsou, 2016; Oloyede and Ofole, 2016; Egbert and Shahrokni, 2022).  

I was prompted to write this blog as a part of my Study program, coincidently I have always been grateful to the productivity suite especially Google and its paraphernalia, Microsoft office, Teams, Zoom, Canva, Jamboarding, MentiMeter…….These have been my favourite eversince because I feel I can multitask more effectively and efficiently, I can reach out to my trainees despite the geographical differences.

I personally feel, in the contemporary times what has eased the learning process is the administration part both from the Teacher, institution and student side. With the advent of Google and Microsoft It’s practically like carrying all my books and stuff with me wherever I go, I am in touch with my teachers, Institute and classmates wherever I am and moreover I can today sit and write my blogs during my lunch breaks at my workplace. Accomplishing study goals, work goals has become super easy with technology. This affects a lot of other areas of life, like managing the work life balance, managing everyday stress, managing time and connecting people effortlessly. That is why probably Connectivism is one of the prominent Learning Theory nowadays in the Education space   

While I was writing this blog and searching on google, I came across this video on Youtube titled:

The Paperwork explosion

IBM’s, corporate video delves into how their technology aims to enhance people’s productivity by 50%. There’s a line towards the end of the film that runs, “IBM machines can do the work so that people have time to think. Machines should do the work, that’s what they’re best at. People should do the thinking, that’s what they’re best at.” 

And 50+ years down the line now, It’s the productivity suites, that do the work and spare us some more time. 

An intriguing aspect about the rise of productivity suites is, the comprehensive ecosystems that has catered to the increasing demand of work and have been an answer to the massive disruption. Initially, productivity suites primarily consisted of word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation software. However, with advancements in technology and the increasing demands of modern work environments, these suites have expanded to incorporate a wide array of features and functionalities. 

Eversince the collaboration tools became part of productivity suites, the world has shrunk further. People can easily connect across work and education. Real-time collaboration features like Google Docs, Zoom, MS Teams, canvas design, and others have revolutionized teamwork, overcoming distance barriers and  fostering seamless communication. 

Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms into productivity suites have remarkably accentuated their efficiency. AI-powered features, such as predictive text, smart suggestions, and automated workflows, help in saving time and reducing manual work. 

Productivity tools have contributed to education in many ways. It’s worthwhile to think: What methodologies result in better knowledge gain? And How can teachers and learners benefit and how this Treasure Trove be uncovered?  

Prudent teachers employ various methods like: working in groups, giving lessons in bite sized pieces so that students can build up on them, sharing ways that the productivity tools can be used for better results, creating a connect between institutions and students to better facilitate the purpose of learning. When designing cooperative computer-based strategies, teachers must deal with issues such as the size of the groups,equity concerns,and software that is designed for individual use. However the good comes with some bad too! Because these tools are like ATM- that add value to users, people can learn at their pace, anytime, anywhere therefore people seek information more than they seek knowledge. This may lead to over reliance on these tools and students may undermine the importance of cognitive skills, social skills. 

The cost and sustainability of using this type of infrastructure may not be affordable for all and may lead to social, emotional, moral and digital gaps. Another important concern is the The collection, storage, and sharing of student data through digital platforms which has raised privacy concerns regarding the protection of sensitive information and potential misuse by third parties. 

Yet for me they are no less than a magic wand. I can create these kind of simple images in a jiffy 🙂

References

Oloyede, G. K., & Ogunwale, G. J. (2022). Digital productivity tools as a necessity in education, research and career in the 21st century. In Proceedings of the 31st Accra Bespoke Multidisciplinary Innovations Conference. Accra, Ghana: University of Ghana/Academic City University College (pp. 1-6).