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Accelerating Time Online

According to the polling group Harris Interactive, adult internet users are now spending an average of 13 hours online per week.

From 7 hours average use in 1999 to between 8-9 hours from 2003-2006 and 11 hours in 2007, this latest increase to 13 hours is somewhat analogous to the increase in home broadband penetration in the US. An April 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project showed 63% of adult Americans now have broadband internet connections at home, a 15% increase from a year earlier.

The age groups that spend the most time online are those aged 30-39 (18 hours) and those aged 25-29 (17 hours) and 40-49 (17 hours).

What sort of future does this portend for your students when they’re adults? 

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Control Technology With Your Mind for Only $299

It won’t be long until your students will be using mind/machine interfaces, controlling technology with their thoughts and the scientists at Emotiv have created a device that retails for $299 and points the way toward this inevitable future.

Controlling technology with one’s mind has obvious application for those with physical handicaps, but any of us who interact with technology are constantly being presented with opportunities to use better, cheaper, faster, easier, and more streamlined methods of manipulating technologies.

With this month’s revelation by a Mayo Clinic researcher who has implanted brain wave receiving electrodes placed directly on the brain instead of on the scalp, allowing people to type with just their thoughts, I’ve been reading more about interest in the non-implanted (and inexpensive) brain wave receiving device that one can simply wear like a baseball cap.

How does it work? 

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The Internet Archive

While at a meeting in the Golden Gate Club building in the Presidio in San Francisco, I was gazing directly at the headquarters of the Internet Archive, housed in Building 4. My mind kept wandering to the incredible resource that was created and delivered within that structure and knew I had to go there right after my session was over.

So you have an appreciation of why I was so compelled to go there and the resource the internet archive represents, a little background is in order and they describe their mission on their ’about’ page:

Libraries exist to preserve society’s cultural artifacts and to provide access to them. If libraries are to continue to foster education and scholarship in this era of digital technology, it’s essential for them to extend those functions into the digital world. Many early movies were recycled to recover the silver in the film.

The Library of Alexandria - an ancient center of learning containing a copy of every book in the world - was eventually burned to the ground. Even now, at the turn of the 21st century, no comprehensive archives of television or radio programs exist. But without cultural artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. And paradoxically, with the explosion of the Internet, we live in what Danny Hillis has referred to as our “digital dark age”.

“The Internet Archive is working to prevent the Internet - a new medium with major historical significance - and other “born-digital” materials from disappearing into the past. Collaborating with institutions including the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian, we are working to preserve a record for generations to come.

This 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1996 and the volume of digitized content is quietly being amassed by the volunteers and staff dedicated to what many of us believe is one of the most worthwhile endeavors for future generations. 

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Separation of Church & State

It was Christmas eve in 1965 and my two sisters and I (yes, that's me in the photo at 10 years of age reacting to my big sister's gift of the wildly popular Give-a-Show Projector) were opening gifts at my grandparent's house in Moorhead, MN. As I look back on that year and try to recall all of it I see it as a simpler time, when each day seemed like an eternity, there were few distractions and, as I came to appreciate much later on, the average cost of a new home was $13,600, gas was $0.31 per gallon, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was a mere 969.

But it wasn't a simple time, was it? The Vietnam war was just beginning to escalate (President Lyndon Johnson announced an increase in the number of United States troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000), the civil rights movement was gaining momentum and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama with the result of State troopers violently confronting them.

Preceding that 1965 Christmas in my school, Valley View Elementary in Bloomington, MN, was the first time that I had to confront the realization that there were other people who held religious beliefs different from mine.

A boy in my school, Sam S., was Jewish and we talked one day at lunch about that day's Christmas carol singing and he started to cry. Not knowing what to do, I sat there without saying anything and ate my sandwich until he stopped. "What's the matter," I asked as he wiped away a tear and responded, "I don't know any of the words and just feel stupid."

Though I probably did nothing to console him, that one incident forever changed the way I viewed what "separation of church and state" meant as well as the term "religious freedom" and the protection both deserve. 

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For 2010: Apple iPad, 300,000 iPhone Apps & More

If you’ve been paying attention to technology rumors, an Apple tablet (i.e., “iPad”) is at the top of many people’s list for most likely rumor to become reality next year. But when I read a recently published iPad prediction along with the number “300,000″ as a baseline prediction for the number of iPhone applications by the end of 2010, I was intrigued.

Continuing my reading found me focusing on an acceleration in something called “socialityc” applications which is a new category that fuses traditional analytic business applications along with social and collaboration software and how big this category as becoming since so many of us have shifted our attention away from virtually all traditional media sources toward new and social media ones. 

The key? These predictions had come from the well respected, global technology analyst firm IDC which is the real reason I sat up and took notice.

Why should you care? You might not if you were unaffected by the recent economic downturn and your community is giving you money without a referendum. You might not care if you aren’t experiencing any disruption, new opportunities or benefits from the internet or web. But if you have an interest in what is most likely to occur with technology in 2010, read on. 

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Jolicloud: The *Perfect* Education OS?

During the next six months of your decision-making process for the 2011 academic year, I predict you’ll be hearing A LOT about Jolicloud and other netbook/tablet/device operating systems (OS) that are so simple to use that even a computer novice will take to it instantly.

Built from the ground up as a “radically new OS” based on Linux which and optimized for netbooks, Jolicloud comes pre-installed with drivers for Wifi, sound, Bluetooth, 3G networks and optimal screensize. Replete with applications that are key for the always-on and always-connected among us (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) along with backup to cloud servers and an app directory with “one click install” for any applications, this is truly a dream OS for those of us who’ve had to service, support and train users on OS’s that seemed to get in the way of the tasks these folks wanted to accomplish.

There are already groups working on K-12 education distributions (or “distros” for short) as well as ways to quickly configure stock netbooks by removing Windows or Linux that ships with them and instead replace them with Jolicloud.

Recently infused with $4.2M in a Series A round of venture capital (which is the first significant round a hot young company receives), means that many others see the possibilities. This is especially true when one notices that Jolicloud received the support of the two co-founders of the wildly successful Skype.

Below is a snippet on Jolicloud from the popular San Francisco-based internet TV show, Tekzilla, by Revision3 and it will give you a better look-see at this appealing OS for netbooks:

Mobile Accelerating Faster Than Did PC's

Last week, Morgan Stanley released a 659 slide presentation and report (here) that details the accelerating change occurring in the mobile, smartphone space. If you don’t think this will materially and profoundly change education and learning in the future – and should give you pause to consider how you’re addressing this fundamental shift – stop reading now.

Though this report covers the entire mobile space and the influences, technologies and drivers of it, one key finding stood out: that the category of mobile devices – specifically those called “smartphones” with data as the key component vs. just voice – is ramping faster than desktop internet and will be bigger than most analysts think it will. The five trends converging in this area are fast 3G networks, the need for people to stay connected to their social networks while on-the-go, video and voice over the internet (VoIP).

As I’ve talked about previously on this blog, when your students have the world of knowledge at their fingertips, the ability to tap in to supercomputing for problem solving, and can connect to others to collaboratively learn, what do you think is the impact of always on, always connected and powerful computing devices? 

One of the most powerful slides in the deck (though there were many) was this one about the power of an smartphone (the Apple iPhone) compared to a desktop computer available in 2001:

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How Much Data Do We Consume?

How much data and information do we in the U.S. consume? What kind of data is it? University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers asked these, and many other questions, in a just released research report (PDF) which contains stunning results.

My emphasis from their executive summary: "In 2008, Americans consumed information for about 1.3 trillion hours, an average of almost 12 hours per day. Consumption totaled 3.6 zettabytes and 10,845 trillion words, corresponding to 100,500 words and 34 gigabytes for an average person on an average day. A zettabyte is 10 to the 21st power bytes, a million million gigabytes. These estimates are from an analysis of more than 20 different sources of information, from very old (newspapers and books) to very new (portable computer games, satellite radio, and Internet video). Information at work is not included."

That's a lot of data! What impressed me about their findings was that they took in to account multiple source inputs since, as I've found, many of these research studies focus on the new, internet-centric data consumption as though traditional forms of data delivery (the "old" above) are suddenly irrelevant.

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Children Who Use Technology Are Better Writers

Those of us who are highly active users of blogging, social media, and other forms of technology requiring ability to properly communicate regardless of the medium agree: fully participating with technology and communicating with others makes us better communicators.

Coming across this article, "Children who use technology are 'better writers'" seemed too broad and blanket of a statement for my taste, but it brought forth my knowing that there was an intrinsic truth to it and I was intrigued enough to poke around and discover the UK-based National Literary Trust and the report itself.

The report validated my personal belief, and reinforced observations that I and many of my colleagues have made, about what happens to someone when they're motivated to communicate with the written word, receive nearly immediate feedback on the efficacy of their writing, and strive to communicate well.

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Acrobat in Education

As I pay attention to the strategic and tactical moves of the major players in computing -- Microsoft, Apple, Google, Adobe, to name a few -- there is no question that the struggles to be the dominant provider in a cloud computing world is far from settled.

With their proprietary approach to the runtime outputs from their various tools (e.g., Flash) coupled with what they're delivering to mainstream computing with PDF, for example, it's been interesting to watch the continued evolution in tools and capabilities surrounding all of these companies, but Adobe stands out in education, especially in the area of PDF and how they've extended it to the cloud.

When I first saw a technology called "Carousel" at the Federal Office Systems Expo in Washington, D.C. in the 1990's -- which later shipped as something called the Portable Document Format or "PDF" -- I was thrilled to see a cross-platform, runtime file format that would make it extremely easy to deliver a digital document to others that would retain the formatting and fidelity intended by the creator of that document.

We know the positive results of the PDF format, right? But did you know that there have been major strides in the free Adobe Reader software that is perfect for education? 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Accelerating Change are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.