Talking with computers: How chatbots can help with learning

September 12, 2016 11:31pm

Credit: Steve Rainwater

This article was originally published on Jeremy Riel’s Medium blog

The recent rise of chatbots and their educational uses

Followers of tech trends may have noticed the word “chatbot” appearing in an increasing number of news publications over the last few months. Chatbots, or automated software for chatting with a computer, have been around since at least the 1960s. With the recent rise of popularity in chat apps among youth, however, they have reached a newfound fad status in the last year or so. But what is it about these talkative software-based robots that has people excited and companies and organizations scrambling to set up their own chatbots? More importantly, what potential do they have for learning? In this post, I tackle what defines a chatbot, what they can help people do, and how educators can think pedagogically about this old technology that’s gotten a lot of new interest. (more…)

Trends in Mobile Chat Apps and Their Implications for Learning

September 6, 2016 11:39pm

Image credit: Ognian Mladenov

This article was originally published on Jeremy Riel’s Medium blog

If you were to ask yourself what the under-25 crowd does most on a mobile device, you’d probably come to the conclusion that chat, text, and instant messaging apps draw a good portion of attention. Instead of just the basic text messaging that dominated mobile devices for years, students today carefully curate and send information on many platforms to keep in touch with friends and track the trends and news that they care about. The influx of messaging apps and new functions available to chatters are of interest to educators, as these everyday apps for students can fundamentally influence the ways in which students communicate and process information. Students use chat apps every day for numerous purposes, so using these apps is an alluring hook for educators to get kids engaged and interested in learning activities. (more…)

Virtual Reality: Can New Advances be Useful for Education?

September 2, 2016 11:43pm

Credit: Knight Center for Journalism

This article was originally published on Jeremy Riel’s Medium blog

Virtual reality (VR) has been dominating headlines lately with the development of flashy new gizmos that promise to help users see the world in new ways. However, VR is not a new technology by any means: it seems like its been around for an eternity in technology time. Each iteration of VR headsets since the 1980s has used similar visual principles and goals over the last two decades. The Samsung VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive are all newly released gadgets on everyone’s gift lists. The suddenness of these devices going to market demonstrate that companies are committed to making VR cool again, so what can we expect to see this time around? More importantly, how can we teach with new VR and how do we get started with VR for education? (more…)

Unintended Outcomes of Technology Use: Lessons from Educators from Pokémon Go

August 28, 2016 12:53pm

Pokemon Go! Road Rage — Image Credit: Iain
This article was originally published on Jeremy Riel’s Medium blog

What happens when classroom technology isn’t used in the way you thought it would be? Or, alternatively, what happens when students use technology exactly the way you intended, but undesirable outcomes happened? These are two questions that every educator has asked at some point as they attempted to integrate new technologies into their classrooms. Using recent examples from the Pokémon Go phenomenon, this essay tackles these two questions with an eye toward how to adapt technologies for learning when they aren’t meeting our expectations. (more…)

Pokémon Go and education: Toward answering the questions about learning that are on everyone’s mind

August 23, 2016 3:07pm

This article was originally published on Jeremy Riel’s Medium blog

The game that is finding its way onto the phones of everyone under 30 years old has started to find its way into the discussions of educators worldwide. Questions about whether or not Pokémon Go can be used for learning are expected as it gains popularity. Anything that is able to pull in such large numbers of players has to be beneficial for learning, right? (more…)