Category Archives: tech

Smart speaker interpretations

Can Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple’s Siri understand your child?

Young children, who are just learning to articulate, often end up laughing at the way smart speakers interpret their language.

Reviewers indicate that Amazon’s Echo Dot might be better at responding correctly through accents and mis-pronunciations.

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TV borrows from video games

Virtual and augmented reality TV is coming to Nickelodeon.

A new television series will attempt to create the “immersive experience” kids like in their video games.

Roll-out date has not been set.

The VR fascination

If you visit your child’s school this fall, you might notice students holding cardboard goggles in front of their faces while they spin and walk around the gym.

VR, or virtual reality, has come to schools this fall.

Although the potential of teaching applications hasn’t yet been realized, thanks to low-budget headsets and platforms, more teachers are experimenting with VR.

The novelty factor is still high, so learning outcomes might be minimal. However, as more researchers and educators come together, classroom use will become more defined.

Soft skills for students?

I’m interested to see if middle schoolers will be developing what’s called “soft skills” this fall.

There’s been a lot of chatter that digital natives – kids who have been raised in today’s tech-driven world – are growing up as mere computer geeks.

As a result, students today aren’t learning how to communicate with others, get along in a team situation or collaborate to solve a problem.

So will these and other so-called “soft skills” find their way into classrooms?

We’ll see.

Device management goes to school

Management of mobile devices is a huge issues in schools this fall.

Some schools have banned smartphones, laptops and all personal technology, choosing instead to give students “tech breaks.”

Other teachers are using a system which shuts down smartphones. Compliance is digitally tracked by the teacher and punished with grade deductions.

This attention to curbing device usage has roots in research: data shows that multitasking is a myth. When our brain focuses on one thing, it shuts down something else. This rapid attention-switching can result in lower grades, which is the reason educators are rethinking their previous, lenient approach to digital devices.

Digital citizenship

Students heading back to school might be surprised to see a class labeled, “Digital citizenship.”

Equally surprising: their teacher might be the school librarian.

Teaching kids appropriate, safe and responsible ways to be safe online, “information literacy” is a buzz word in schools this fall.

VR theme park

The 2018 vacation season is over, but if your family likes theme parks, you might want to plan a trip to China next summer.

The first theme park in the world to use virtual reality on all 35 rides opened recently in Guizhou, China.

And when you’re done with the spaceship tours and virtual roller coasters, your kids would love a stop at one of China’s thousands of VR cafes to play a video games.