Shipping containers have become popular sites for repurposing in recent years—we’ve seen shipping container homes, gardens, even portable pizza shops. Architecture and design firm Perkins+Will is taking a different tack by turning 40-foot shipping containers into learning laboratories in South Africa.
The LaunchPad computer labs, created in partnership with U.S. nonprofit Infinite Family, are intended to connect local kids with mentors around the world. Mentors talk weekly with South African kids affected by HIV/AIDs and poverty via computer to help them improve English skills, computer skills, interpersonal skills, and more.
Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning. Educators who focus on integrating kids’ own interests and passions into the curriculum will see them flourish as learners. Educators can think about integrating such practices as showing relevance of what students are studying to life outside school, connecting with parents, and using digital media as a way to spark interests and spreading ideas.
Socialblood is trying to use Facebook’s vast network to connect such people to others who need their blood. It was founded by Karthik Naralasetty, who dropped out of Rutgers University in New Jersey to found his own technology company called Redcode Informatics in Bangalore.
The idea is simple—so simple, in fact, that it is a bit too limited right now. The Socialblood website links to eight different groups on Facebook, one for each blood type. You can request to join the Facebook group for your own blood type and a moderator will approve your request. If ever you are in need of a blood donation, you can post a message to the group and potential donors who live in your vicinity can chime in to help.
Socialblood has already seen participation from 1,500 people across all the blood types and is generating more interest with each passing day. They’ve even saved a three-year-old child who was on the brink of death, Naralasetty proudly says.
"No one keeps files for the sake of keeping files. Even digital hoarders who have every single episode of Doctor Who ever created don’t simply have those files to have files—they have those files because they comprise a collection of data with value as a collection. An Excel or Word document has no value in and of itself; rather, documents gain value when they are consulted or shared, when the data that they contain is compared against or integrated with other data and transformed into new data. With this in mind, the exponential increase in storage density coupled with a decrease in how much it costs per-gigabyte to purchase that storage has driven a huge shift in what it means to create and innovate."
Inventors Propose “Liquid Keyboard” Upgrade for the iPad
Christian Sax and Hannes Lau at the University of Technology in Sydney showed off a “Liquid Keyboard” at the Tech23 conference Tuesday in Sydney. As the video explains, normal touchscreen keyboards only let you use one or two fingers at a time. That makes typing slower than it would be on a traditional keyboard, where you can use all your fingers.
Sax and Lau propose a solution: Keys that adapt to the user’s typing style. Wherever you put your fingers, the keyboard follows them, and the other keys are “where you expect them to be.” It’s an interesting idea, but in the demo, the Liquid Keyboard appears to take up a lot of screen real estate.
I always find it interesting when we talk about typing and the iPad. I know it’s necessary for basic functionality. How else would you log into your accounts, type a quick email, or enter a website url? But I think when it comes to longer forms of writing, the iPad isn’t a device for that. It wasn’t made for it, and it’s no good at it because it wasn’t made for it. Besides, who wants to type a long paper on a device with a 10” screen?
Since Apple introduced the iPad in January of 2010, the rest of its competition has been trying desperately to play catch-up. If you’re curious, here’s how tablet design looked before and after the iPad was introduced. As you can see it’s pretty self-explanatory. Apple innovated, everyone else reiterated.
"It is by now an old idea in futurology, originating with Alvin Toffler, that modern man exists in a state of constant shock at the changing landscape of the technological world — akin to “culture shock,” but as ceaseless as the progress of technology. But we quickly become accustomed to, and adjust ourselves to, the technologies that increasingly form the fabric of our interaction with the world — and so their novelty rapidly fades. And then we find our experience of moving through the world is not one of perpetual awe and wonderment, but of boredom and restlessness."
The iPad circa 1994, as envisioned by the Knight Ridder Information Design Lab in Boulder, CO.
Tablets will be a whole new class of computer. They’ll weigh under two pounds. They’ll be totally portable. They’ll have a clarity of screen display comparable to ink on paper. They’ll be able to blend text, audio, and graphics together. And they’ll be a part of our daily lives around the turn of the century. We may still use the computer to create information, but we’ll use the tablet to interact with information, reading, watching, listening.
The only problem with their tablet was that they were a decade and a half ahead of their earliest customers.
"The area that’s most interesting to me is how the iPad has seemed to force a distinction between consumption and creation. It’s true that it’s very difficult to be productive on the iPad in the same way that it’s possible to be productive on a desktop or a laptop, but I also think most people have misunderstood this to mean that creation is impossible on this platform. I don’t believe that’s true."
"Current neuroscience research confirms what creatives intuitively know about being innovative: that it usually happens in the shower. After focusing intently on a project or problem, the brain needs to fully disengage and relax in order for a “Eureka!” moment to arise. It’s often the mundane activities like taking a shower, driving, or taking a walk that lure great ideas to the surface. Composer Steve Reich, for instance, would ride the subway around New York when he was stuck."
“We need to revolutionize education to encourage creativity and need to teach our kids to play, take a chance and create. By not teaching our children liberal arts we will hinder their capacity to innovate.”
The Big Brains at Darpa have dreamed up some pretty cool stuff over the years: GPS, mind-controlled robotic arms, the Internet.
So could education benefit from its own version of the Pentagon-led research agency?
The Obama administration thinks the answer is yes. Its proposed 2012 budget includes $90-million to kick off the effort, conceived as a way to support development of cutting-edge educational technologies.
I fully support this idea. Of course I support anything that involves us spending money on improving education, so I suppose my stance isn’t all that exceptional.