Posted by: crudbasher | November 23, 2011

Learning From Smart Toys

Remember when this was a computer?

(cc) ajmexico


Images like this actually handicap those of us of a certain age because we can’t see that a computer is actually not a device, it’s a concept. We think all computers have to have a screen and a keyboard right? Why?

A basic computer science class will describe computers in terms of function, not form. You have input, the computer processes the input, then it gives a result via an output of some kind. You might not realize it, but you are surrounded by computers at all times. When you get into an elevator and press the button, a computer handles that. Your car has several computers in the engine alone.

If you look at the trends in computers, they are getting smaller, cheaper, and more powerful. Not only that, but they are now connected to the Internet, which is the largest input source of all time. So what are the implications of this trend for education? Let me explain.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Computers Will Replace Teachers, and Here’s How…. It has generated a lot of traffic so I have kept thinking about the idea. Then I saw a video about toys today and something else clicked.

(cc) selva

Kids love to ask questions. Smart phones are a great way of getting answers but you wouldn’t give one to a toddler would you? So let’s take the idea of a smart phone and embed it into a toy. It won’t be too long before we have power sources of much longer life and capacity. These will be able to power a toy which can have a smart computer core, voice interaction and an Internet connection. Children love to learn and we see how children bond with toys. Imagine if the toy actually interacted with them? Imagine if the child could ask questions at any time and the toy would help teach the answers. Robotics, power supplies, and computation ability are all enabling technologies for smart toys and I think it’s almost possible to do this today. Certainly it will be possible in the next 5 years. A smart toy will be a key tool in enabling learning anywhere, anytime and for as long as necessary.

So as you go shopping this weekend, think ahead a few years and imagine picking out the right smart toy for your child.

Have a happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers! I’ll be back next week.

Here’s the video about toys I saw today. It’s amazing!!


  1. […] use them to learn things at anytime and anyplace. I followed this post up with another one called Learning From Smart Toys. In this post I speculated that the form of computers would change. Students won’t sit in […]

  2. […] make the Tomagotchi curious. You could teach it things. This would work well with smart toys (see Learning From Smart Toys). These are little robot toys combine with a smartphone. They would be with your children at all […]

  3. […] it had emotions. Perhaps we have been conditioned by popular entertainment? I have spoken about smart toys before, so I can imagine something like Leo that a child can talk to and interact with. Keep in […]

  4. […] Learning From Smart Toys […]

  5. […] Let’s say a child is at a park and sees a cool looking cloud. Can’t they ask their smart toy how the cloud was formed? Could not the back end system then generate a lesson based on where they […]

  6. […] To read more about Smart Toys please see this post Learning From Smart Toys […]

  7. […] a post in […]

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