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Three tech trends for higher ed in 2017

February 28, 2017

no2017Every January brings predictions about trends that will dominate the headlines in the coming year. This article is my biased attempt at identifying a consensus among.

To help keep you from feeling left out of conversations around the water cooler, each trend is defined and includes a short bibliography.

1. IoT and Smart Home Tech

Will Caldwell and Katie Miller prepare the Safe Cycle device for the Internet of Things Open House on Dec. 11. Safe Cycle is designed to alert a bicycle rider to traffic behind the bike. Photo: David Tenenbaum/University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW-M’s Safe Cycle is designed to alert a rider to traffic behind a bicycle. Photo: David Tenenbaum

The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) describes devices (other than computers and phones), objects, equipment, and materials that can communicate with us over the Internet. Data from cars, buses, roads, and parking lots can be used to ease your commute. Objects at a retail business or manufacturing plant can transmit information about cost, age, temperature, color, pressure, location, or humidity as a way to track, monitor, sell, identify, alert, or gather data. In a “Smart Home” the connected devices can be appliances, light bulbs, thermostats, doors, surveillance cameras, or wearable technology like Fitbits.

2. Different realities: AR and VR

CC0 Public Domain image from Pixabay

Public domain image from Pixabay

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are related technologies. A VR system creates its own version of reality and tries to immerse the user by stimulating vision and hearing. Oculus Rift goggles are a hot VR item. In an AR environment, enhancements appear on top of a view of the real world, providing information or allowing users to interact with what they see. The Pokemon Go app is a well-known example. I saw lots of higher ed applications of VR at the 2017 Educause Learning Initiative meeting earlier this month.

3. Makerspaces

Maker space in Santiago, Chile. Flickr photo by Mitch Altman

Maker space in Santiago, Chile.
Flickr photo by Mitch Altman

A makerspace is a physical location where people with shared interests work on projects while sharing ideas, tools, materials, skills … and space. You might find one in a library, at a community center, or on a college campus. Expert advisors may be available, but novices often help other users. The term traces back to 2005 and the debut of Make magazine, which promoted do-it-yourself tech projects. In higher education the idea of informal learning through hands-on exploration has become appealing to engineers, computer scientists, graphic designers, and others.

I look forward to seeing more digital media makerspaces for students on college campuses.


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Milestone alert: this is post #700 on the NspireD2 blog!

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