So what connects an iBook to the Maya? Glad you asked. My friend, Dr. Mark Van Stone, has created an interactive version of his book, 2012: Science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, that is about what the Maya really said about 2012 and I think the same book has a lot to say about technology and education.
Today many people are talking about education and using terms like Disruption. Well, disruption is something that is always going on. When I visit Georgia Tech, my alma mater, I am astonished at the changes that have occurred since I attended in the late 1950's. More buildings, more students and changes in how they are taught. I am sure some of those changes are good and some are not. All we had were traditional paper textbooks, a very two-dimensional object. Today a variety of new technologies offer new ways for students to study. One of these devices is Apple's iPad. I feel there are still many questions to be asked and answered about these new teaching tools. Some of the questions are about physical limitations such as storage capacity, the availability of materials because of required infrastructure (things like high-speed wireless internet) and compatibility of applications. Others will be about how they are used and how students are tested on their retention of the material.
The disciplines in science and technology are replete with concepts and theories that are almost impossible to describe using narrative and two-dimensional graphics. The human mind has a difficult time envisioning three-dimensional concepts when the traditional teaching methods involve verbal description and two-dimensional images. With an interactive device downloaded with educational material, as in Dr. Van Stone’s interactive book, the student can view three-dimensional views of a concept in motion and color.
The interactive version of Mark Van Stone’s book, 2012: science and Prophecy of the Ancient Maya, has impressed me with its capabilities for teaching science and technology. This concept would enable visualization and facilitates understanding of the theories ranging from the space-time continuum to plasma physics to the design of engineering systems.
The device will permit students to grasp the significance of difficult concepts and ensure that they are fully communicated to the student. The subject to be learned will be enhanced by the interactive charts, concepts and videos that are possible with this innovative technology. So is this disruptive to education? Maybe it is and maybe a little disruption is what education needs.
There are other topics related to the disruption of education I want to weigh in on, things like online education. Not just a class taught over the internet but ideas like EdX (www.edx.org) which describes itself as "a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web." and runs MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course) some of which have 100,000 students in a class. That has to be disruptive. So look for me to Blog about these and other topics soon.