Posted by: crudbasher | April 12, 2011

A Step Closer to 24/7 Learning

(cc) shareski

I am not alone in thinking that learning should be 24/7. I remember well how on the last day of class each year in high school, I rode the bus home and breathed a sigh that I didn’t have to learn anymore for three months.

What a crime!

We are actually always learning but somehow the process of going to school makes kids dislike the active process. Sir Ken Robinson talked about this in one of his talks where they measured how enthusiastic children were to learn. It peaked in Kindergarten and went down as you progressed in school.

So what does all this have to do with Google’s new speech recognition software? If you have a smart phone, you can be learning at any time. Some people call it Just In Time learning. You learn something when you need to know it. For example, this weekend I changed the oil in my lawn mower. I didn’t know how much oil to add back in so I just looked it up when I needed to know it. With a smart phone vast amounts of information are at your fingertips.

In the past when you wanted to know something you either went to the library or asked someone who knew. Google is the new person to ask. Their new software is already on Android phones apparently ( I don’t have one) so you can just ask a questions which will then get converted into a Google search. Apple has purchased a company called Siri that does the same kind of thing. You can ask it questions and it’s pretty smart about figuring out what you want.

You also have to factor in the fact that most smartphones have GPS so are aware of their location. You can ask you phone “Is there a good moderately priced Italian restaurant around here?” They phone can give you the answer. You can easily mix a few other technologies together to get a learning machine. For example, a student can ask about the history of where they are right now. Google can search historical photos for that location and display them in an augmented reality way. It can also show you relevant videos from YouTube (owned by Google). It’s just staggering how the more tools we get, the more things we can do with them. This is why technology is advancing so quickly.

So this leads us back to education. Will you let your students ask their smartphones answers to your questions? How about on a test? In fact, I submit that we shouldn’t be asking any questions on test that you can just lookup on Google. I heard (I forgot from where) a great way of putting this last year:

“Don’t Teach Google”.

As teachers, perhaps we can finally move past broadcasting facts and move on to critical thinking and reasoning? This truly could be a golden age of learning.

  • Speech recognition

    tags: technology speech recognition disruptive software

    • If you’ve tried speech-recognition software in the past, you may be skeptical of Android’s capabilities. Older speech software required you to talk in a stilted manner, and it was so prone to error that it was usually easier just to give up and type. Today’s top-of-the-line systems—like software made by Dragon—don’t ask you to talk funny, but they tend to be slow and use up a lot of your computer’s power when deciphering your words. Google’s system, on the other hand, offloads its processing to the Internet cloud. Everything you say to Android goes back to Google’s data centers, where powerful servers apply statistical modeling to determine what you’re saying. The process is fast, can be done from anywhere, and is uncannily accurate. You can speak normally (though if you want punctuation in your email, you’ve got to say “period” and “comma”), you can speak for as long as you’d like, and you can use the biggest words you can think of. It even works if you’ve got an accent.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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