Apple’s latest accessibility features are for those with limb and vocal differences — from techcrunch.com by Devin Coldewey

Excerpt:

Apple announced a batch of accessibility features at WWDC 2021 that cover a wide variety of needs, among them a few for people who can’t touch or speak to their devices in the ordinary way. With Assistive Touch, Sound Control and other improvements, these folks have new options for interacting with an iPhone or Apple Watch.

 

Tips To Use Virtual Training For User Education & Immersive Site Tours — from elearningindustry.com by Stephanie Ivec
While virtual reality safety and equipment training have been around the longest, more and more organizations are seeing the benefits of virtual reality for new uses, like the site tours and user education.

Excerpt:

Software tools or systems, surgical devices, and even board games commonly require end user training or customer education in order for the customer to get the most out of the item they’ve purchased. Over the years, user education and training has evolved from lengthy user manuals to online videos to fully immersive experiences. Virtual and augmented reality videos are an engaging way to make customers feel more comfortable with a new product, procedure, or system.

Addendum on 6/11/21:

  • Assessing Extended Reality’s Potential — from avnetwork.com by Margot Douaihy
    VR and AR still mystify some integrators, but advocates say the potential of extended reality (XR) solutions is staggering.

VR costs continue to decrease as processing power increases. Tethered and wireless HMDs (head-mounted displays) are becoming more compact and easier to use. From the HTC Vive Pro 2 to Oculus Quest 2, there are solutions for various budgets. VR is no longer cost-prohibitive.

The AR ecosystem is evolving, too. Apple’s ARKit and free AR mobile apps like Adobe Aero are inviting more people into the content creation space.

It’s a different calculus for adoption in commercial sectors, however. Return on investment and utilization throughout the product lifecycle are primary concerns.

 

You’ll Soon be Able to Use Your Apple Watch Without Touching the Screen — from wsj.com by Katie Deighton
Companies like Apple and Spotify are making it easier for people with disabilities to use their products. Accessibility advocates hope more follow suit

AssistiveTouch, a new feature coming to the Apple Watch, will let users operate the device without having to touch the screen or controls.

AssistiveTouch, a new feature coming to the Apple Watch, will let users operate the device without having to touch the screen or controls. It was designed with people who have upper-body limb differences in mind.

PHOTO: APPLE INC.

Excerpt:

Later this year, Apple Inc. will introduce features that allow users to control an iPad with their eyes, and its smartwatch with gestures like a pinch or a fist clench.

The company announced the moves this week as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 20, an event established in 2011. Other big tech players revealed initiatives and commitments of their own, from automatic podcast transcriptions by Spotify Technology S.A to the updated design of a specific virtual block in Microsoft Corp.’s “Minecraft” to make it more visible to colorblind players.

 

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is today!
Help us celebrate the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is is Thursday, May 20th 2021

Also see:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is Thursday, May 20, 2021

Also see:

Professional Development for Digital Accessibility: A Needs Assessment — from qualitymatters.org

As the EdTech article, “Improving Accessibility for Students and Faculty with Disabilities,” points out, the approach to accommodations for many institutions is still reactive instead of proactive.

So what can institutions do to become more proactive in their approach to digital accessibility? A 2019 survey of Higher Education Quality Matters Coordinators conducted by Barbara Frey, D.Ed., Point Park University, and Rae Mancilla, Ed.D., the University of Pittsburgh, identified the need for more professional development on the topic. Now, in the final white paper from their three-part series on digital accessibility, Drs. Frey and Mancilla provide a summary and analysis of the survey data on digital accessibility professional development needs.

Highlights include:

    • The key training areas that course developers can focus on to help faculty
    • How administrators can address common barriers to participation in digital accessibility training
    • How faculty can contribute to a meaningful accessibility training curriculum

Also see:

 

10 takeaways from Big Tech’s big earnings — from protocol.com by David Pierce
What Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon earnings say about the state of tech.

 

 

AirTags Are the Perfectly Boring, Functional Future of AR — from wired.com by Lauren Goode
Apple’s new location-aware widgets point to the company’s possible larger ambitions for augmented reality.

Excerpts:

APPLE’S AIRTAGS HAVE found their way to market. The long-rumored competitor to Tile—a tiny Bluetooth tag you attach to frequently lost items—was unveiled today during Apple’s spring hardware announcement.

This latter feature points to another emerging platform for Apple: augmented reality. While the company didn’t explicitly say AirTags will be used in AR apps, immersive computing experts point out that the AirTags technology is using ARKit, Apple’s software framework for AR, and that tying digital information to nearby physical objects is an important step in the evolution of this tech.

Instead of seeing a flat, 2D image on your iPhone of where the keys are buried in the couch, a virtual arrow would be layered on top of the view through your phone’s camera, guiding you to the exact location of your keys as you move closer.

 

Design full rooms in AR with the IKEA Studio app — from vrscout.com by Kyle Melnick

Use the IKEA Studio app to design a room -- this image pictures a floating blue couch in a living room

Excerpt:

Whereas the IKEA Place app—released back in 2017 alongside the launch of Apple’s ARKit—allows you to place single pieces of AR furniture and decorations throughout your real-world environment, IKEA Studio lets you furnish entire rooms. Developed by IKEA’s own Copenhagen-based studio SPACE10, this iOS-exclusive app works by capturing 3D room plans and measurements using the LiDAR sensors featured on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. Put simply, this new technology generates a mesh scale capable of identifying surfaces, objects, and the geometry of your real-world environment, resulting in more realistic AR experiences.

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook: AR Is “Critically Important” For The Company’s Future — from vrscout.com by Bobby Carlton

Excerpts:

When the subject of AR and it’s potential came up, Cook said “You and I are having a great conversation right now. Arguably, it could even be better if we were able to augment our discussion with charts or other things to appear.”

In Cook’s opinion, AR will change the way we communicate with our friends, colleagues, and family. It’ll reshape communication in fields such as health, education, gaming, and retail. “I’m already seeing AR take off in some of these areas with use of the phone. And I think the promise is even greater in the future,” said Cook.

Also see:

Woman using Augmented Reality to further learn about something.

And it is not enough to try to use existing VR/XR applications and tailor them to educational scenarios. These tools can and should be created with pedagogy, student experience, and learning outcomes as the priority.

 

Clicking this image will take you to the 2021 Tech Trends Report -- from the Future Today Institute

14th Annual Edition | 2021 Tech Trends Report — from the Future Today Institute

Our 2021 Tech Trends Report is designed to help you confront deep uncertainty, adapt and thrive. For this year’s edition, the magnitude of new signals required us to create 12 separate volumes, and each report focuses on a cluster of related trends. In total, we’ve analyzed  nearly 500 technology and science trends across multiple industry sectors. In each volume, we discuss the disruptive forces, opportunities and strategies that will drive your organization in the near future.

Now, more than ever, your organization should examine the potential near and long-term impact of tech trends. You must factor the trends in this report into your strategic thinking for the coming year, and adjust your planning, operations and business models accordingly. But we hope you will make time for creative exploration. From chaos, a new world will come.

Some example items noted in this report:

  • Natural language processing is an area experiencing high interest, investment, and growth.
  • + No-code or low-code systems are unlocking new use cases for businesses.
  • Amazon Web Services, Azure, and Google Cloud’s low-code and no-code offerings will trickle down to everyday people, allowing them to create their own artificial intelligence applications and deploy them as easily as they could a website.
  • The race is on to capture AI cloudshare—and to become the most trusted provider of AI on remote servers.
  • COVID-19 accelerated the use of AI in drug discovery last year. The first trial of an AI-discovered drug is underway in Japan.
 

20 of the best free science apps for iPad & iOS — from teachthought.com by TeachThought Staff

Excerpt:

The ease-of-use and engagement factor of an iPad can really liven up a lesson.

Combine that with an app’s ability to simulate reality in br, such as chemical reactions, and you have a tool that is both safe and fun for your students.

Below, we’ve gathered 20 of the best free science apps currently available for iPhone/iPad/iOS. Note, many of the science apps below have in-app purchases but are free to download and use. The main criteria here was that it’s a science app and is worth using/teaching and learning with without making any additional purchases.

 

Apple launches major new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative projects to challenge systemic racism, advance racial equity nationwide — from apple.com
Commitments build on Apple’s $100 million pledge and include a first-of-its-kind education hub for HBCUs and an Apple Developer Academy in Detroit

Apple launches major new Racial Equity and Justice Initiative projects to challenge systemic racism, advance racial equity nationwide

Also see:

Apple reveals how it will spend the $100 million it pledged in June toward racial equity — from fortune.com by Michal Lev-Ram

Excerpt:

On Wednesday morning [1/13/21], the iPhone maker said it would invest in a series of programs: a learning hub for historically Black colleges and universities (both online and brick-and-mortar, in Atlanta), an Apple Developer Academy to teach coding skills in Detroit, and a $10 million check toward venture capital funding for entrepreneurs of color.

 

The Digital Divide for Tribal College Students — COVID, CARES Act, and Critical Next Steps — from diverseeducation.com

Excerpt:

In this episode staff writer Sara Weissman shares a story that focuses on the digital divide for Native Americans by bringing in voices of tribal college leaders and their students during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Many don’t know but Native American colleges and universities have long struggled with the worst internet connectivity in the nation while ironically paying the highest rates for service. Hear first-hand how students from Diné College and other institutions are currently affected. Carrie Billie (Big Water Clan), President & CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and Dr. Cynthia Lindquist (Star Horse Woman), President of Cankdeska Cikana Community College in North Dakota, break down the data and lay out critical next steps necessary to address the digital divide.

Many don’t know but Native American colleges and universities have long struggled with the worst internet connectivity in the nation while ironically paying the highest rates for service.

From DSC:
When will there be justice!? Let’s join in and make amends and provide the funding, concrete assistance, products, and services to Native American colleges, universities, and communities. Some potential ideas:

  • For the short term, could there be Loon balloons deployed immediately to provide free and stronger access to the Internet?

Could Project Loon assist Native American colleges, universities, and communities?

  • Could our Federal Government make amends and do the right thing here? (e-rate program, put Internet access in, make policy changes, offer more grants, other?)
  • Could Silicon Valley assist with hardware and software? For example:
    • Can Apple, HP, Microsoft, and others donate hardware and software?
    • Can Zoom, Adobe, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and others donate whatever these communities need to provide videoconferencing licenses?
  • Could telecom providers provide free internet access?
  • Could MOOCs offer more free courses?
  • Could furniture makers such as Steelcase, Herman Miller, and others donate furniture and help establish connected learning spaces?
  • How might faculty members and staff within higher education contribute?
  • How could churches, synagogues, and such get involved?
  • Could the rest of us locate and donate to charities that aim to provide concrete assistance to Native American schools, colleges, universities, and communities?

We need to do the right thing here. This is another area* where our nation can do much better.

* Here’s another example/area where we can do much better and make amends/changes.

 


Addendum on 12/7/20:

 

Many students complain that online-based learning doesn’t engage them. Well, check this idea out! [Christian]


From DSC…by the way, another title for this blog could have been:

WIN-WIN situations all around! The Theatre Departments out there could collaborate with other depts/disciplines to develop highly engaging, digitally-based learning experiences! 


The future of drama and the theatre — as well as opera, symphonies, and more — will likely include a significant virtual/digital component to them. While it’s too early to say that theatre needs to completely reinvent itself and move “the stage” completely online, below is an idea that creates a variety of WIN-WIN situations for actors, actresses, stage designers, digital audio/video editors, fine artists, graphic designers, programmers, writers, journalists, web designers, and many others as well — including the relevant faculty members!

A new world of creative, engaging, active learning could open up if those involved with the Theatre Department could work collaboratively with students/faculty members from other disciplines. And in the end, the learning experiences and content developed would be highly engaging — and perhaps even profitable for the institutions themselves!

A WIN-WIN situation all around! The Theatre Department could collaborate with other depts/disciplines to develop highly engaging learning experiences!

[DC: I only slightly edited the above image from the Theatre Department at WMU]

 

Though the integration of acting with online-based learning materials is not a new idea, this post encourages a far more significant interdisciplinary collaboration between the Theatre Department and other departments/disciplines.

Consider a “Dealing with Bias in Journalism” type of topic, per a class in the Digital Media and Journalism Major.

  • Students from the Theatre Department work collaboratively with the students from the most appropriate class(es?) from the Communications Department to write the script, as per the faculty members’ 30,000-foot instructions (not 1000-foot level/detailed instructions)
  • Writing the script would entail skills involved with research, collaboration, persuasion, creativity, communication, writing, and more
  • The Theatre students would ultimately act out the script — backed up by those learning about sound design, stage design, lighting design, costume design, etc.
  • Example scene: A woman is sitting around the kitchen table, eating breakfast and reading a posting — aloud — from a website that includes some serious bias in it that offends the reader. She threatens to cancel her subscription, contact the editor, and more. She calls out to her partner why she’s so mad about the article. 
  • Perhaps there could be two or more before/after scenes, given some changes in the way the article was written.
  • Once the scenes were shot, the digital video editors, programmers, web designers, and more could take that material and work with the faculty members to integrate those materials into an engaging, interactive, branching type of learning experience. 
  • From there, the finished product would be deployed by the relevant faculty members.

Scenes from WMU's Theatre Department

[DC: Above images from the Theatre Department at WMU]

 

Colleges and universities could share content with each other and/or charge others for their products/content/learning experiences. In the future, I could easily see a marketplace for buying and selling such engaging content. This could create a needed new source of revenue — especially given that those large auditoriums and theaters are likely not bringing in as much revenue as they typically do. 

Colleges and universities could also try to reach out to local acting groups to get them involved and continue to create feeders into the world of work.

Other tags/categories could include:

  • MOOCs
  • Learning from the Living[Class]Room
  • Multimedia / digital literacy — tools from Adobe, Apple, and others.
  • Passions, participation, engagement, attention.
  • XR: Creating immersive, Virtual Reality (VR)-based experiences
  • Learning Experience Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Interface Design
  • …and more

Also see:

What improv taught me about failure: As a teacher and academic — from scholarlyteacher.com by Katharine Hubbard

what improv taught me about failure -as a teacher and academic

In improv, the only way to “fail” is to overthink and not have fun, which reframed what failure was on a grand scale and made me start looking at academia through the same lens. What I learned about failure through improv comes back to those same two core concepts: have fun and stop overthinking.

Students are more engaged when the professor is having fun with the materials (Keller, Hoy, Goetz, & Frenzel, 2016), and teaching is more enjoyable when we are having fun ourselves.

 

From DSC:
Who needs to be discussing/debating “The Social Dilemma” movie? Whether one agrees with the perspectives put forth therein or not, the discussion boards out there should be lighting up in the undergraduate areas of Computer Science (especially Programming), Engineering, Business, Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, Philosophy, Religion, Political Science, Sociology, and perhaps other disciplines as well. 

To those starting out the relevant careers here…just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Ask yourself not whether something CAN be developed, but *whether it SHOULD be developed* and what the potential implications of a technology/invention/etc. might be. I’m not aiming to take a position here. Rather, I’m trying to promote some serious reflection for those developing our new, emerging technologies and our new products/services out there.

Who needs to be discussing/debating The Social Dilemna movie?

 

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian