Each week, a member of the JITP Editorial Collective assembles and shares the news items, ongoing discussions, and upcoming events of interest to us (and hopefully you). This week’s installment is edited by Carlos Hernandez.
Usually when we speak of technology and pedagogy, what we really mean is: “This technology has just materialized in the world. Can it be leveraged for educational purposes?” As educators, it’s incumbent upon us to keep up with technologies as they appear—and as they vanish. Our goal shouldn’t be so much to “use technology x,” but rather understand technology trends, so we can “surf the wave” of innovation and bring the most useful tools into our classrooms. Just as often, we should abandon tools that no longer work.
It’s with that thinking in mind that I have been watching the Apple Watch. Recently I asked my students how many of them have a smart phone with internet access on them, and this time, for the first time in my career, every student did. We are reaching a tipping point where the phrase “digital divide” is changing meaning. The divide will still exist, of course; higher-end computers will still be out of reach for many students. But we may be reaching a point where computer affordability may allow for a total revamp of how we teach. Just as books are readily available now, so are pocket-computers: also known as phones. And now, with the Apple Watch, wrist-wearable computers may follow suit, in time.
As this New York Times article discusses, the Apple Watch is a device that may be more about showing off its possibilities than delivering quality-of-life and productivity enhancements. Right now, its apps and features duplicate many of the options of other smart watches, perhaps most notable the Pebble, the company that sparked interest in the wrist-wearable computer. But Apple’s entrance into the market will introduce a new level of interest from app-makers, which in turn will make the watch more universally useful. That virtuous loop could lead to a level of innovation that would make smart watches both more affordable and more appropriate for classroom usage.
Smart phones can already be used as “clickers” to encourage class participation, to access colleges’ cms’s, even to compose essays. Their GPS functions have been used to create ARGs for education, and the ability to take and record photos has myriad uses in a digitally enhanced classroom. What affordances, then, might come with a watch? Students in the health sciences will likely be interested in the possibilities granted by having a computer constantly pressed to the skin that can measure a variety of bodily processes. The accelerometer perhaps becomes potentially more useful on a watch, since it is, again, reliably attached to the body.
But the most potential resides in not duplicating or even enhancing what a phone can do already, but what app developers will discover in the process of creating new functionality for the Apple Watch.
Right now, the smart phone has, arguably, the most transformative potential in education because of its wide availability. If we care about using technology in the classroom, we would do well to imagine ways to make use of the phones our students already have. But we should keep an eye on smartwatches as well so as to help us plan for next decade’s ubiquitous technology.
Upcoming and Ongoing Events and Deadlines
Call for Submissions: Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, Issue 8 Deadline “Disability as Insight, Access as the Function of Design”
Deadline: May 15, 2015
Call for Proposals: Digital Humanities Forum 2015
Deadline: June 1, 2015
Event: University of Kansas
Call for Participants: Hybrid Pedagogy Summer Digital Pedagogy Lab
Registration is rolling, but workshops are filling up fast!
Event: August 10–14, 2015
Call for Presentations: The Videogame Cultures Project
Deadline for abstracts: May 1, 2015
Event: September 11–13, 2015
Call for Proposals: Thirteenth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, “From the Digital Humanities to the Humanities of the Digital”
Abstract Deadline: May 15, 2015
Event: June 17–19, 2015
Call for Articles: FILE Digital Aesthetics E-Book
Abstracts due: June 15, 2015
Call for Submissions: Inaugural issue of Digital Literary Studies
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