By Cyndee Perkins

Dying from dysentery as a pioneer on the westward march was a threat in real life, but only a stumbling block in Oregon Trail, one of the first computer simulation games. You died? Start over! But swiping a finger across a touch screen today is a far cry from using arrow keys and c> to command the game forty years ago! (Does anyone even know what a “c prompt” is any more?)

Checking out future education technology is my key reason to attend “Dust or Magic,” an annual conference hosted by Warren Buckleitner; I listened to fifty tech developers who met and shared products, experiences and future plans, and the results are in: 

  • Learning games like Oregon Trail once boasted a balance of 4o% content, 40% logic and 20% arcade. Unfortunately, arcade “gamification” is supplanting the emphasis on content and logic; winning the prize is becoming the goal instead of learning and using critical thinking.
  • Teachers need to become more digitally literate in order to use today’s technology effectively. Knowing how to use PowerPoint does not make me digitally literate. We educators need to know how to use Angry Birds to teach math, physics and even to reinforce emotional intelligence.
  • Everything is moving online – Online K-12 instruction is growing by 40% per year.
  • Tablets aren’t phones: expect to see a big growth in tablet games in 2014.
  • Look for a portable tablet with a pen in 2014 …“fat fingers” (having nothing to do with obesity, but everything to do with hand-eye coordination) are a problem in the world of swipe.
  • Interactive technology is today – Kinect was only the start. In China a whole building responds to the applause following a symphony.
  • New acronym for STEM: Stop Testing – Energize Minds!

And of what significance are the above bullets?  We as educators must accept that learning IS going online and we have to use the new tools! Our job is to reveal the fun of tablets, the fun of apps, the fun of gaming … and the fun of learning!

The toddlers of today have expectations! Our job is to meet them!

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