Everyday Carry #MTV16 Edition

Anytime that I go to a tech conference, I have the essentials that I carry with me. Because I have the privilege to attend the Google Innovator Academy that I am heading to on Wednesday, my normal everyday carry items will be a little different—a little more techy and .

I thought it would be fun to do an everyday carry  version of what I will be carrying to the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA.


You’re MOOCing Me Crazy!

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are paving the way to education and access for students who may not be able to afford college. I love the disruption that MOOCs are presenting to the higher education field.

I don’t know if I can say whether or not MOOCs will lead to a new degree granting program, or if they are just a fad, but it seems that MOOCs are doing something pretty brilliant: providing open access to information that previously reserved for elite students with money.

From the readings for my graduate class, I found that “The Professors Behind the MOOCs” highlighted some very interesting perspectives coming from the professors themselves.  In the survey of professors who created and operated MOOCs, almost 85% of the professors thought that MOOCs would either marginally or significantly reduce the cost of attaining a college degree. In a time and place when college tuition is raising every year, sometimes by astronomical percentages, MOOCs have the ability to lessen that load.

Another statistic that was staggering to me was that, although professors didn’t always feel that students should get formal credit from their institution, the majority of the professors believed MOOCs to be worth the hype. Regardless of the credit, MOOCs are causing a stir among teachers and professors and it’s presenting an interesting dichotomy of paying for information or having it readily available to anyone who wants to get it.

Now, MOOCs do provide challenges for learning, and there are many people who have documented the downfalls or pitfalls of MOOCs, but if we follow Siemens understanding of connectivism in a MOOC, we can see the value in participating in MOOCs as a community. We will see, in time, if MOOCs will be the positive disruption that I believe they can be.

Open access to information; learning in a community; individualized learning plans. Seems like a great thing to me.

The Hype of New Tech

All too often, the newest and greatest tech tool comes out and people flock en masse to buy it, review it, disassemble it, and claim its superiority over everything. While the diffusion process takes some time to play out, there will always be the innovators and early adopters who will pave the way for others to see the benefits.

Although the product category of wearable technology is established, it’s still a relatively new concept. In thinking about the Apple Watch’s imminent release to the public, I am intrigued by how the status of Apple will possibly create a more popular category.

I’ve spoken with several people who have wearable Android Wear watches and they always say they love them; however, they also will say that it’s not really necessary at all. Now if something isn’t necessary, why is there a drive to release new products into the category?

I know that smartwatches are already making their impact on the education field because of their connectivity and accessibility to the internet. Smartwatches are already being banned from testing rooms to reduce the urge to cheat.  What is interesting to me is that Apple is creating disruption in the category (again) by its later release into the category. Android first announced its smart watch last spring, and it didn’t create the same buzz as the Apple Watch is currently generating.

When we look back to education and tech tools, it’s important to remember that it isn’t about the latest and greatest, it’s about the teacher and students using tools for learning. It’s never about the technology. It’s always about the teaching.

Quora: The [best?] answer to any question

A few years ago, I heard someone say that Quora was the place to go for answers. When I created an account back then, I looked at it and wasn’t especially impressed at the time. Since then, I went back to look at it this week and had a completely different outlook. As part of my master’s class on Social Media and Digital cultures, we were asked try something new. Since I never gave Quora the time of day, I decided to go back and check it out.

I started poking around at the main feed that was created by aggregating the interests that I set up in the initial set-up process. After looking through this feed and not coming up with anything, I started searching for things that apply to me personally/professionally (Google Apps, Chromebooks, educational technology, social media, etc.). It was then that I found the usefulness of Quora.

While I see and One of the downfalls that I have heard to Quora is that there is no way to know if the contributors who are answering the questions have the authority to answer the questions. To begin, there is some element to people being experts on this site. As I was searching for chromebooks, I found many answers about chromebooks answered by the Jeff Nelson who is attributed to creating the Chromebook. I was also able to start following the topics that interest me. When you start following topics, Quora aggregates these feeds into your main feed to bring everything together.

You also have the ability to follow individual people on Quora. By doing this, you are trusting yourself to choose the correct people to follow to benefit yourself (much like Twitter or any other social media). I was able to start following people who are leaders in their respective fields (innovation, edtech, etc.).

Ultimately, I see the value of Quora being in the user base. Because it isn’t an overblown social media site, there are many people who use it that will contribute. It is not full of many people to “water-down” all of the feeds (a la Ashton Kutcher or Kim Kardashian). Just like any other social media site, you have to decide how it will be beneficial to you based on who you follow, how much you participate, etc.

Does Quora have the best answer to any question? It could if you are willing to help out. It could if you ask the right people. It could if you look for it.