Paleofuturism: The History of the Future from the Past

This long and brilliantly illustrated article was written by John O’Brien for Educause Review. I could not do justice to it if I tried to summarize it in a couple of sentences, so I’ll just mention a couple of things that piqued my interest. O’Brien says that it is important to understand the past, and thinking about the future is fundamentally human, but it is still more fascinating to think about “the road pointing back to where you were, the road pointing ahead to where you’re going, and the moment at the crossroads contemplating both.” I learned a new term from this article: “paleofuture.” It refers to concentrating on representations of the future in the past. He doesn’t mention the novels of Jules Verne, but this is a good place to look. One of the many illustrations in the article shows a house maid using a mechanical floor scrubbing device that has a broom and a sponge attache to it. Someone made this illustrated card in 1899, about one hundred years before the Roomba was developed. Please read and enjoy this interesting article for yourself.

Digital Distraction in the Classroom or Learning Opportunity?

A graduate assistant teacher of paleontology at the University of Michigan kept a written record of what she had seen on the screens of her students’ digital devices in the classroom and created a PowerPoint presentation of them. Many instructors find creative ways to let students use their cell phones and tablets in the classroom. A good example is free polling apps. Here a list of apps for teaching students about paleontology and dinosaurs.

Apps like these could let her students use their devices in the classroom and would be a lot more interesting than making her students listen to a lecture about the Mesozoic era.

Learn in Your “Micro-Moments” with MIT’s WaitSuite Apps

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has developed a suite of apps that let you learn while you are between floors on an elevator, waiting for a WiFi network to connect, or whatever. The WaitChatter instant messaging app will keep you on track, teaching you words in a foreign language related to the conversation you are having, while the Elevator Learning app will send you words to translate while your are waiting for an elevator to arrive. The team that developed the app claims that users learned about 57 new words in just over two weeks.

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Oh The Horror, The Horror – A Day on Campus without Screens

Joshua Kim reports on what your day on campus might be like if you had access to no devices with screens – on laptop or desktop computer, no cell phone, no tablet. As Kurtz famously said at the end of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, “Oh the horror, the horror.”

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