My name is Scott Dalpias I am a graduate student in Educational Psychology and I will be discussing my experience in the TECH Playground at Oklahoma State University.
The tech playground is a room designed for free thinking, creativity, play, and innovation. However, I wonder how many of us who are involved in higher education, be that faculty or students, feel like they have time to play and be creative. It seems at times as if our schedules are relentlessly pushing more tasks and to dos our way. This blog post is about how I took time out of my schedule to visit the TECH playground and how it has positively influenced my teaching, learning, and professional life.
The tech playground is a room that is packed with different technologies. I spent a mere two hours exploring, and felt that I could have easily spent six more. While each of the technologies in the room have teaching and learning in mind, it is up to the one exploring to apply each technology to their personal situation. During my visit I played with the following technologies, x box1, Wacom tablet, telepresence robot, virtual keyboard, Osmo, 3d printer, and a flight simulator. While I could discuss each in turn, there were three of these technologies that I felt had a particular impact on me.
First, The telepresence robot. This technology allows a person to move around during web conferencing. An I pad is connected to a movable and controllable base that allows its user to move around the room even when possibly hundreds of miles away. Controlling this technology was fun exciting. It was thrilling to think that a student who is undergoing chemo therapy, or other debilitating treatments, might be able to attend class and interact digitally from their hospital bed. Distance is no limit to this technology and application is only limited by us.
Second, the 3d printer. This idea of being able to print in 3d is very new to me, yet its applications for education seem limitless. Whit this technology complex topics can be enhanced through visual manipulatives that a teacher simply prints out on their computer. While exploring this technology I decided to try and print a ring. Luckily for me, and others looking to print in 3d, there are websites that have designs available for download. I took my design from the website http://www.thingiverse.com/. I would recommend taking a look on this website and exploring different designs and possibilities for your classroom.
Third, Minecraft on the x box1. The reason this was so impactful to me was not in the application to teaching, but the understanding of students. We are often told that students are different today than when we were in school. I agree with this statement, yet I was not sure how they were different. While exploring the Tech playground I was told that many students play a game called Minecraft. With this in mind I decided to give it a try. This game allows users to create their own world out of essentially different blocks. It allows for animals, swords, monsters, zombies and many more features. Playing this game helped me not only understand them better, but helped me know what they were talking about.
While time is a precious commodity for us in higher education my time spent in the tech playground was most beneficial and insightful. I encourage you to come by and explore for yourself. Who knows, perhaps you will leave with some creative innovative ideas like I did.