Category Archives: Technology

Life Without a Phone

iphoneI know this is going to shock you… I have been without my iPhone for two weeks. It finally died during Christmas break. I have a replacement phone on the way, but it is back-ordered. I’ve learned a few things about how a smartphone impacts our daily life.

Emerson

Created at PicLit.com

First, life goes on. Honestly. in some ways, it has been good not to have my phone… or maybe I should say apps. Some readers may have noticed that I have not been as active on Twitter lately. Especially with sharing my typography photos I make with Typic. Which I also share those photos on iTagged and Instagram. I do miss taking photos and not just for the creative things I do with them.

I could not take a photo of any of my children during the break. No smiling faces as they opened presents. No fun shots as the family let our new guinea pig, Kota, play in the living room.  Even worse, no chance to share those photos with Grandma and grandpa in Wyoming. I also couldn’t send text messages to other friends and family just to say hello. Let alone communicate with my wife to handle our busy everyday life. Who’s picking up who? Can I stop and get milk?

But life goes on.

I am more connected with the people around me. I’m not checking my Twitter notifications while my daughters take a bath.  I’m playing or talking to them as they make bubble beards. I am getting projects completed in half the time at work. I notice how people are feeling through their eyes. And honestly, right now, I feel more relaxed.  I feel free, not connected to my phone.

This feeling is interesting because when my phone first died I was stressed. I couldn’t check in on one of my favorite games, Puzzle and Dragons. Puzzle and Dragons uses a simple psychology reinforcement of tracking how many days you have played total and how many days in a row. Before my phone died, I had played for over 600 days. My streak was 496 days. Now, I don’t spend hours a day playing Puzzle and Dragons. But as you can see, I was connected to it.I won’t even discuss how many worlds I have lost in Minecraft Pocket EditionTheTop

 

 

 

I can’t calculate  how much time I spent with Twitter alone. Add all the time I listen to my music, checking Flipboard, researching new apps and just texting friends, and you can see that I was connected to the phone.

There are a number of studies about our addictive behavior with technology, this is a true concern for our development as people and a culture. These last two weeks have been an interesting case study of how connected my life is to my phone. Without my phone I am more connected with the people around me.  I’m more connected to what is going on in my life right now. But without my phone my connections with people and interest is affected. Connecting with my family in other states, friends and colleagues on Twitter, and even communicating with my family to make our daily life run smoothly has been lost.  I miss taking photos and playing Puzzle and Dragons. I miss creating typography pictures.

I learned I can live without a smartphone and when I get my replacement to make sure I disconnect from the phone to connect with the people around me. The past two weeks have reinforced that technology should enhance our lives, not control them.

But the most interesting thing I learned is that I don’t want to live without a smartphone. And that idea is for another post, I think the mailman has just pulled up…

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Tech is Awesome

Sometimes it is the simplest moments that bring the greatest joy.  My second son and I jammed out to Aloe Blacc’s, “The Man,” on the way to basketball practice last night.

On the way home I thought about how technology allowed our moment to be so cool.  First, my son and I jam out all the time.  But last night just highlighted what an awesome time we are living in.

My son asked me if I had heard the new Aloe Blacc song. I asked which one and he said, “the I’m the man song.”  I said I hadn’t heard the whole song, but knew of the song because of the Kevin Garnett Beats commercial.  Now, this is when technology kicked in to foster a great father and son moment.

Our minivan has Bluetooth for our phones. So, quickly we looked up the song on Grooveshark website. Switched the radio to broadcast my phone and soon we were bobbing our heads while we sang, “Go ahead tell everybody. I’m the man. I’m the man.  I’m the man.”

You might be thinking, there is nothing special about the technology.  That is true.  In fact my son and I may have jammed out to another song.  But ten years ago, this wouldn’t have happened.  We take for granted what technology does for us everyday.  How awesome it is right now… I think Neil Pasricha would agree with me.

Have an awesome day!

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A Digital Path

IMG_2890 “Please help me teach a valuable lesson to the 7s retweet/favourite/share whatever 🙂 #weinspire #cybersafety pic.twitter.com/Mwfqxd0wQj” Tweet from Home of 7AH.

Well, lucky for you I am also a teacher… but I could be anyone behind a keyboard.  Your picture is now apart of a blog post from an individual in Nebraska, US. I have not manipulated the photo, but I could.  Photoshop is an amazing tool… oh wait I did alter the photo…IMG_2892

In fact, I used a simple app…PhotoFunia.

 

 

Consider for a moment the unknown that happens with anything we produce digital… from a picture, to a tweet, to the information of our lives that we share. Home of 7AH, I hope this blog post spurs some interesting discussions. I also hope it generates a few seconds of thought for everyone before you go digital with anything… who knows what will happen to that moment.

 

 

 

 

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What happens when a connected teacher loses the connection?

A normal hurdle in our connected lives is home Internet service.  For the last three days our Internet has been down.  And life has been different.

First, we have been spending more time together in the living room.  The older kids still had their mobile devices, but mostly to listen to music or to read.  My oldest daughter has been spending time working on her first graphic novel, the boys have been taking turns holding their new sister, and the two other girls have been running sprints to the front door.

Mom and dad have been intertwined into the activities.  I am the official starter for the sprints. The girls line up next to me and I say, “Go, Go, Go!”  Mom will make sure the boys hold their sister’s head right.  And we all check the newest panel in our daughter’s project.

The disconnect has allowed us a chance to reconnect during this busy time.

But being disconnected has its drawbacks.

First semester is the time I teach the Eng. 101 class.  The students use Moodle to turn in everything.  In the best circumstances, I am always just a little behind in grading.  The students write almost everyday.  I am now days behind in just that class.  I have work to do to just get caught up.

My other classes use Schoology, and I have kept up through the app on my phone.

Photo by former student Angelica.

Photo by former student Angelica.

But when the rest of our world stays connected, we have a digital mountain to climb when we reconnect with them.  We have emails to read and respond to, tweets and status updates to respond to, and for teachers, piles of digital papers to grade.

We might have come to the point that we cannot function well without being connected.  And that idea is for another blog.

A technician is headed to our house this morning to fix the problem.  And I will be back to grading papers late into the night. And tweeting during my breaks, of course.

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Whatever happened to Georgia Wonder?

Back in 2009 I was following a band Georgia Wonder on Twitter. I was also teaching a unit on digital literacy for my sophomores. I had a crazy idea to try to connect with people I followed on Twitter to enhance some of the topics we were covering in class. One of those people was Julian Moore of the band Georgia Wonder. He agreed to talk to my sophomores via iChat to talk about the music business.

Here is the online magazine my students produced from that lesson: Chalk: Georgia Wonder issue.

Here is the blog post Julian wrote: Nebraska USA.

But this post is not about that lesson; it is about relationships. Relationships in our digital age.

Julian and I hit it off right away. In fact we both have the same birthday. For quite some time after the iChat lesson we kept in contact on a regular bases. Georgia Wonder was working on a new album, and in fact the class and I got to hear the first single from the album as Julian was working on it. Today it is 2013 and I have lost contact with Julian. There have only been two posts on Twitter from the band since last year. Their blog has not been updated in a long time. Julian is working on a novel, but that blog has not been updated either. So what happen to a friendship in the making? Life.

Let me take a minute to bring in a few ideas that have been on my mind lately. In the TECHS class we have been discussing digital citizenship, and part of that discussion has been the change in our definitions of friendship, communication, and relationships. Yesterday we watched the following TED talk “Alone Together” by Sherry Turkle.

I have been reading the book You are not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier, which discuss many of the same ideas. This blog isn’t about those either.

Now this is a hard truth. I know that if I stopped using Twitter or Facebook, nobody would really care. Somebody might think off hand that I hadn’t posted anything in awhile, but life would go on. I will be starting a new job soon and in a few months after I leave ESU 10 somebody might think about me, but life goes on. But here is the point, the aspect we as a culture and as individuals are discovering and working through; life goes on whether we are online or not. (And I am thinking we need to be offline a little more… but that is for another post) But when we embrace the power to enhance our relationships through technology we create an incredible personal experience that enriches what we do and who we can become. At the moment much of technology discussion feels like technology is a separate aspect to our lives. It is not; it is a tool that can enrich our lives.

So what does this have to do with Georgia Wonder? Good question. I may never connect with Julian again, but the possibility is there because of technology. But just like any friendship, job, or change, life goes on. But my life, and my students’ lives, was enriched by our connection. If we keep the focus on how technology can make our lives better; I think we will do just fine.

By the way, Georgia Wonder, if you get the chance to read this… I’m still listening to your music.

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Class Research

The TECHS students did a simple Google Presentation on future technology. Each student, across four class periods, were assigned to find something cool happening in the world of technology.

Technology allows any of us to collaborate with ease.

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Aurasma

Overview:

Aurasma Lite allows you to create and view augmented reality tags, or Auras as they are called, in the world around you. The app allows you to create your own tag with premade Auras provided in the app (Aurasma animation, images or 3D models), or leave your own photo or movie file from your photo stream.

There are two options for making an Aura with the app, regular and local (published in a channel). A regular Aura is usually connected to an image that you place the Aura on.  You can then share that Aura through social media or email.  When someone clicks on the Aura link they can see your tag if they have the same image. A quick example would be leaving an Aura on a newspaper photo.

A local Aura is placed in a physical location.  This is great for creating tags for schools, or museums.  The difference is that the user makes a channel to share the Auras left at that location.

Aurasma also has a studio to create layered Auras.  The picture in the “Why I like it” section will give you an example of how the studio works.

Why I like it:

Steps to View:

1.Download the Aurasma Lite app.

2. Create an account.

3. Search for  “Jamey Boelhower ” with the search option and subscribe to my channel.

4. Point mobile device at the picture below to activate the Auras. Double tap the video to go full screen, tap the A to go to Aurasma’s site, and tap the Twitter icon to see my profile. Video was made with ScreenChomp.

Try to have iPhone in the full screen, might have to move your device to start the Auras.

Use in the classroom:

I think the power of Aurasma for educators is in the studio creation of Auras.  Below is an example of content I have tagged in a social studies book.

Map of Mayan Civilization

Auras include video and picture of temple.

Like the location Auras, the studio allows you to have a channel that you can update at anytime.  You can leave instructional videos, websites, and other material tagged in traditional books.  Many students use the calculator on their phone to do math problems, imagine, though, that they can review a lesson because it is tagged to an image in their textbook.

Using the app to create Auras can be a great way to make posters or bulletin boards interactive in the classroom.  Students can make review videos for books and leave Auras on book covers.  There are some many ways to use Aurasma in the classroom.

Share your ideas with me via Twitter (jdog90).

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