Tools, trends from TechShare LIVE!

Discussions about education often are sprinkled with a dash of alphabet soup, and that trend held true during FETC’s TechShare LIVE! session, where education technology trainers talked about new tools and trends in artificial intelligence, augmented reality and mixed reality.

The session, moderated by Adam Bellow, co-founder of Breakout EDU, brought together tech experts Hall Davidson, Kathy Schrock and Leslie Fisher. Here’s a look at some of the cutting-edge tools and devices they shared with attendees.

Artificial intelligence

“AI is not just for industry.” It will be an important part of what students move into, said Hall Davidson, senior director of Global Learning Initiatives at Discovery Education.

“Back in the old days, bringing in a computer was pretty expensive,” he noted. But, “you can bring in an artificial intelligence for $49 or $39 dollars.” But which one?

Davidson recommends the Amazon Echo Dot for three reasons:

  1. Students can write code for the Echo Dot. He specifically called attention to a program in Maryland’s Prince George’s County in which students developed apps for Amazon Alexa, Amazon Lex, Echo Dot and Echo Show.
  2. You can mute the Dot and only talk through the remote. “A lot of people are worried about it listening all the time,” Davidson said. But, “you can leave the mute on all the time and then hold up the remote and use it to ask a question.”
  3. “It has an RCA plug, so it will bluetooth to other speakers,” he said.

Augmented reality

AR is everywhere, from museums to cars to home décor and schools, said Kathy Schrock, CEO of kackl! tech consulting. Here are some of her favorite AR tools:

  • ZooKazam is an IOS and Android app and includes over 50 holographic animals and information about them.
  • JigSpace includes history, science, math and space objects that students can explore by taking them apart to learn more about them.
  • AirMeasure uses AR technology to allow students to measure distances easily. “It could be a nice addition to a lesson on area or perimeter,” Schrock said.
  • Storyfab is an augmented reality movie studio. Students view a flat surface like a table and then populate it with scenery and modify it with characters. Students then shoot the scenes, adding dialogue if they wish, and the movie is created.
  • Google Expeditions VR is something most educators know about, but now a Google team is working on Google Expeditions AR, Schrock noted. “They are taking reservations for a pioneer program, so give them a call; they will bring all the stuff you need, and you can try it out.”

More cool tools

Leslie Fisher, director of Fisher Technologies, Inc., highlighted these additional tools, including her favorite app of the year.

  • PDF Candy is a website that allows you to convert documents -- from text documents to presentations -- to PDFs for free. It also allows you convert PDFs to other types of documents.
  • Google Arts and Culture app recently released a “search with your selfie feature” that allows you to compare your selfie with pictures hanging in museums. Fisher noted that this could spark a research project in the classroom.
  • Seeing AI, by Microsoft, is Fisher’s favorite app of the year. “It was developed to help those with vision issues, but it’s also a cool app,” she said, which can read text and detect and describe scenery and people.

Melissa Greenwood is the education content director at SmartBrief.

Tech Tips is a weekly column in SmartBrief on EdTech. Have a tech tip to share? Contact us at knamahoe@smartbrief.com

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