Technology

4 Ways Mobile Technology is Improving Your Motorcycle Ride

Motorcyclist using cellphone

(Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

Whether you’re a casual motorcycle rider or a hardcore biker, your smartphone can make your riding experience even better.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 93,000 people were injured in a motorcycle-related accident in 2012, a 15% increase from 2011.  Texting while driving demonstrates a lack of responsibility, but using a smartphone to enhance the safety of your motorcycle? Smart move.

High-Tech Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are quickly becoming more high-tech.  Recently, Reevu, Skully and Nuviz revealed modern helmets that have GPS, cell phone, rear-view camera and music player capabilities.  The Skully Operating System integrated in the Skully AR-1 connects to an iPhone or Android smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing drivers to send texts and take calls through voice commands—no need to take your eyes off the road. Skully announced that the AR-1 will be released sometime in 2014.  However, if you just can’t wait for the release of the AR-1, BikeBandit carries Bluetooth communications systems and other helmets with advanced technology, including advanced ventilation systems and carbon fiber construction.

Tap2Pass

Current technology enables smartphones to help keep us safe from the moment we start our engines to the moment we’re back home.  It’s now possible to turn a smartphone into an automatic garage door opener.  The company Flash2Pass created the Tap2Pass receiver.  This receiver communicates with a smartphone through the Tap2Pass app.  The system can be installed on up to 7 phones, essentially giving every member of your family with a smartphone his or her own garage door remote.  The four digit PIN offers an extra layer of security in case the smartphone is lost or stolen.  Tap2Pass works with both iPhone and Android smartphones.

Vehicle-to-Pedestrian and Vehicle-to-Motorcycle Safety Technologies

Although still in the testing phase, vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-motorcycle technologies will soon become a possibility, thanks to Honda.  With dedicated short-range communications technology, a smartphone can detect nearby pedestrians and motorcycles and alert both parties of a possible collision using auditory and visual warnings.  In other words, the driver’s smartphone communicates with the pedestrian’s smartphone to predict the chance of an accident.  An app specifically designed for V2P technology will be able to determine a pedestrian’s position, direction and speed.  And get this: the app will even tell drivers if a pedestrian is texting, listening to music or on a phone call.

Spot Connect

This handy little device turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator, something that comes in handy when you’ve lost all cell phone connection and are stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Spot Connect assists you in reaching friends, family, service providers, and, of course, emergency personnel. Notable functions include SOS mode, which discloses your GPS location to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, and a Help Mode that sends custom or predefined messages to your chosen contact group.  Spot Connect isn’t just for emergency situations, however.  It also enables you to share your motorcycle adventures with family and friends on Google Maps.  They’ll be able to see your ride progress and know exactly where you’re located.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Kids and Technology: Set an Example While They’re Young

Children and Technology

(Photo Credit: Digital Trends)

As most parents know, your kids are watching you all of the time.  You don’t have to sit down and have a formal conversation with them to teach them things; even kids who seem like they rarely pay attention are observing and learning from your behavior.

As your kids start getting their first smartphones, tablets and laptops, you want them to be responsible. You don’t want them to spend all day in front of a screen, and you want them to be kind to others over the Internet.  One of the best ways to ensure that your kids are responsible with their technology is to be a great role model with your own devices.

With this in mind, the following tips can help parents set an excellent example with their use of technology.

One of the best things parents can do to be good technology role models is to turn their devices off as often as possible—and definitely during family time.  While you might be excited about your new LG Optimus or the latest iPhone and all of the features and apps that can help your busy schedule, if you are on it all of the time, then your children will mimic your actions when they get their own phones.

Moreover, each time we take a quick peek at our texts while aiding our kids with their homework, or each time we interrupt them to say, “I’m sorry, I have to answer this email really quickly,” we’re sending a clear message that we prefer technology over people, claims Dot Complicated.

When your children get their own devices, you will still want them to pay attention to you, so when they are speaking to you, make sure to be fully present with them.  Resist the urge to constantly check emails and texts, and instead give them your full attention.  You also can avoid the distractions by setting some family rules about screen time.  For example, no phones or tablets at the dinner table.  Be sure to follow the rules you establish.

Limit Your Game Time

Yes, you’ve been trying desperately to get past level 199 in Candy Crush so you can crow about it to all of your friends on Facebook.  However, as DigiParenthood notes, keep in mind that your kids are keenly observing how much time you spend playing games on your phone.  Show them the importance of discipline, and that work should come before pleasure by finishing your necessary tasks first.  Finish your chores around the house, help your kids with their homework and walk the dog all before sitting down to play a game.

Many time limit apps out there such as TimeLock, allow parents to designate a certain amount of time their child can use the device.  This is a wonderful tool for you to track how long they spend on the Internet each day, and you can set your own time limits to show your kids that you limit your game time as well.

Be a Good Social Media Citizen

We can talk to our kids about the importance of privacy on social media sites until we are blue in the face, but if our Facebook page is full of posts about personal experiences and situations, our words will probably fall on deaf ears.  Use social media very carefully, and never post anything you wouldn’t want your young children to see—because chances are they will.  Also, be kind and polite while online, even when others are rude; this will help to show your kids the importance of online etiquette.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Multimedia as Part of Your Educational Experience

Multimedia Classroom

(Photo Credit: The Modesto Bee)

Developments in the direction of a more technology-focused and multimedia approach to education demonstrate a correlation between an online learning environment and performance improvement.  How is multimedia as an educational tool trending toward permanence in the academic landscape?

Social Apps

Multimedia devices that have interactive learning and entertainment apps can connect instructors and students outside formal digital academic communities.  Vine, Instagram and other multimedia platforms can give students and teachers the opportunity to interact in fun and interesting ways.  Video platforms provide more dynamic teaching and learning relationships facilitated in ways never before envisioned in the more traditional brick and mortar educational milieu.  The creation of educational apps is a lucrative trend with more mobile choices offered for both students and teachers.  For example, the Oxford Picture Dictionary is a full 4,000-term dictionary you can access anywhere.  School Fuel is another app teachers can use to connect with students remotely to answer student questions and give guidance.

Why Digital Learning?

As online education becomes more prevalent, multimedia and digital concentration will also increase in use in accredited postsecondary programs.  For example, those who pursue an Early Childhood Education degree online at Penn Foster can experience the following advantages:

  1. It’s cheaper—73% less than an average online or traditional institution.
  2. It’s practical.  Knowledge and skills for promoting language and literacy development and activities that are mentally and physically stimulating are applicable for a prosperous educational career.
  3. It’s flexible and convenient.  Learn at your own pace while you fulfill other responsibilities.
  4. It’s a stepping stone. Skills (and credits) are transferrable, which is helpful as you progress.

It’s becoming clearer that your ultimate success is contingent upon your familiarity with the basics of video, multimedia presentation and communication.  With these education programs, you’re just beginning to explore the tip of an ever-expanding monolith in technology, something that you may decide to pursue in more depth in the future.

Joys of Learning

Let’s face it, there’s a significant amount of book learning in any educational program.  It doesn’t have to be dry, boring or fraught with colorless ambiguity.  The multimedia element in education is a way to incorporate your life into your learning process, and then encourage your future students to do the same with their own personal experiences.  It’s a way to put your passion back into education, colorize the frames in all the sessions and engender a more dynamic and diverse atmosphere than you may have ever thought possible.

Teachers who incorporate different platforms in their process will have a better chance of engaging students.  Multimedia classrooms also hold students accountable, keep curriculums organized and offer greater opportunities to learn and apply.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

5 Practical Uses of Social Media in the Classroom

Social Media

(Photo Credit: New York Times)

The purpose of this piece is to offer five practical ways in which social media can be employed in meaningful ways in the 21st century classroom.  Students are actively using social media while they are away from school (and while they are at school) and, therefore, incorporating social media as part of instructional activities enables teachers to increase student engagement in the classroom.  In no way does this piece attempt to suggest that these five recommendations are the only and most meaningful ways to use social media in the classroom.  For the teacher looking for ideas for including social media in his or her instructional activities, this piece presents five ways he or she may find useful. 

1.      Create Class Fan Pages on Facebook.  Classroom discussion activities and assignments can be posted and completed using Facebook Fan Pages.  This is truly an interactive, creative and fun way to have classroom discussions and to allow those discussions to take place beyond the classroom.  For those shy students who are afraid to speak up in class, they may be more comfortable participating in class discussions hosted via Facebook.  For those students who are more vocal in class, they will find that they have a space where they can have full freedom to express themselves without dominating the discourses by consuming too much of the allotted classroom time. Through a Facebook Fan Page, teachers can post announcements and assignments.  When teachers at home and find some interesting resources they want to get to their students immediately, a Facebook Fan Page makes this possible.  Teachers may want to offer students additional tips for assignments they may be working on and a Facebook Fan Page is a good medium to promulgate these tips.

 

2.      Have Twitter Chats.  Teachers can use Twitter to have class discussions and engage others who are across the world in the discussions using hashtags and “lists.”

 

3.      Use YouTube Videos to Supplement Instruction.  Instead of always doing a lecture or explanation yourself, use one already available on YouTube or post one of your own on YouTube.  This helps to disrupt the monotony of how lectures or explanations are traditionally delivered.   

 

4.      Have Students to Create Their Own Blogs.  Assign students to create a blog with frequent assignments to be completed using their blog.

 

5.      Use Facebook Instant Messenger for Student and Parent Conferences.  For parents who may not be able to meet with teachers in person, a conference via Facebook Instant Messenger is a viable alternative.  Instead of always having face-to-face conferences with students, teachers can use Facebook Instant Messenger to conduct conferences with students.  This is also a way students and teachers can connect with one another when outside of the classroom when students may need clarity and help with assignments.   

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Social Media Apprehensions in Public K-12 Education

21st Century Classroom

(Photo Credit: nscollegeprep.cps.k12.il.us)

Although higher education professors and instructors are increasingly embracing and implementing social media in the classroom, many public K-12 teachers have been highly averse to employing social media in the classroom.  K-12 teachers understand they are responsible for ensuring student safety.  Many teachers contend it’s too difficult to monitor all activities that transpire on various social media platforms, and they see the inability to supervise all activities that can occur via social media as creating numerous potential safety risks.  It can be quite challenging to explain to administrators and parents why the use of social media in the classroom is worth potential safety risks.  If something undesirable happens involving one or more students using social media as part of instructional activities, then many administrators and parents will pose serious questions about whether teachers had the best interests of students in mind during instructional planning.  Many public K-12 teachers fear the probing scrutiny that may be involved when they use social media in the classroom.

Higher education professors and instructors face little to no legal liabilities when incorporating social media into the classroom, however.  Their students are adults and they are, therefore, legally released from most institutional and legal liabilities associated with potential problems with the use of social media in the classroom.  K-12 public school teachers are dealing with minors and have to ensure they guard themselves from legal and institutional liabilities associated with the use of social media.

Many K-12 public school administrators see little to no value in the use of social media in the classroom and they discourage or forbid teachers from incorporating social media into instructional activities.  For K-12 school administrators to gain a greater understanding of the value of using social media in the classroom, scholars and teachers who understand the power of using social media in the classroom must do a better job of arming them with research that evinces the true worth of social media in the classroom.  These individuals will need to work to dispel many of the frightening myths about social media that have been promulgated in multifarious media venues.

Teacher education programs should train new teachers on how to incorporate social media into the classroom and establish best practices for implementing social media in the classroom.  When more teacher education programs make training in social media a part of their curriculums, it will help to buttress the perception among more public K-12 administrators that the use of social media in the classroom is a “professional” pedagogical practice.  To be fair to those K-12 administrators who discourage or prohibit teachers from employing social media in the classroom, many teachers who use or have a desire to use social media in the classroom do not have a strong sense of how to use social media in a way that promotes high academic achievement.  Numerous teachers see incorporating social media in the classroom as enabling them to advance higher student engagement, considering social media is wildly popular with young people across the nation and globe.  While elevated student engagement is important, teachers need to know that the specific way(s) they implement social media is effective in leading to expected student learning outcomes.

Higher education professors and instructors have greater flexibility to experiment with social media in the classroom than K-12 public school educators.  If things do not work well with their use of social media, higher education professors and instructors face little to no serious consequences.  Unfortunately, public K-12 teachers do not enjoy the same liberties.  If things do not work well in the classroom with their use of social media, they can receive backlash from students, parents, administrators and the community.

In short, public K-12 teachers have to weigh the risks and rewards in using social media in the classroom.  Many of them contend that the risks outweigh the rewards.  Higher education professors and instructors do not have to devote much attention to the risks of social media in the classroom, so they are experiencing how social media in the classroom has the potential transform the way in which we think about classroom instruction.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Too Wired?

Although all of the fascinating marvels of technology have us often spellbound, we need to take some time to reflect critically about how much mental energy we consume while using sundry technologies.  Many people say that they take breaks from their work by playing with their fancy cell phones and logging on to Facebook, but they really don’t think about how they are not giving their minds a chance to rest.  With such a wide range of technologies available to us in the postmodern epoch, we need to give ourselves meaningful breaks away from these technologies each day.

Some people find it difficult to go ten minutes without looking at using their cell phones.  While you may say that it’s not a big deal to spend a significant amount of time using various technological devices, this can begin to take a toll on your health over time.  Whether you realize it or not, the human brain needs rest.  Even when many people are sleeping and about to go to sleep, they have their televisions on and/or have laptops in bed with them.

Are you ever unplugged from technology for a meaningful period of time to rest your brain?

Many people will come home from a strenuous day of work to sign on to their Facebook and Twitter pages, but they do not think about how much mental energy they are investing in their activities on Facebook and Twitter.  With all of the things that you do and can do on Facebook and Twitter, you can add additional stress to your brain by staying on social media sites for a long period of time each day after you end your work day.

Don’t allow our intriguing technologies to amplify the stress you already have.  Of course, you may think that Facebook and Twitter are social media sites that do not have any stress attached to them.  However, there is often so much drama on Facebook and Twitter and things that can upset you on those sites that you will find that you are even more stressed after logging on them than when you left work.

Take a moment to think about whether or not you waste too much time using various technologies each day.  Is your cell phone so interesting that it causes you to neglect your responsibilities?  It’s really not good for your health to have your cell phone up to your ear for long periods of time each day.  Consider taking a break from some technological devices you engage with for a day and see if you are able to manage without these devices.

While social media sites have become widely popular, many people employ these sites to create false identities and to start unwarranted wars with other people.  When you feel like those are the primary reasons you’re using technology, then it’s time for you to step away from technology for at least a short period of time and refocus your energy.  You have to think about how trying to maintain false identities and fight wars through social media sites is not good for your health over time.

Are you too connected to technology?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison