Monday, February 11, 2013

Videos on Demand - Increasing Returns

Finding a movie based on a Philip Dick novel was not that difficult. My husband is a huge fan of these stories, and so I simply had to choose from what he already had on the shelf. I selected the movie “Paycheck” and watched it a little differently. Rather than simply watching as one seeking to be entertained, I focused on the technologies that were seen in the film. From this point of view, I found that the various technologies were just as fascinating as the storyline itself.

I have to note here that my family is an odd mix of techno-geek and old-fashioned. We enjoy being able to order some movies from online services such as NetFlix, but still prefer to purchase some movies on DVD because we enjoy them. Although I am new to this community I now live in, I have not seen any video stores. What seems to be prevalent is the “Red Box” at the local Walmart and Walgreen’s stores. Additionally, one local company that provides television and internet offers a service that allows you to “rent” a movie through their company. These rentals usually last two days and just require you push a button to view the films.

Although many people do take advantage of the ability to download movies, the popularity of DVDs has not seemed to wane very much.  However, the competition between the Video rental store and Videos on Demand (VOD) is a good example of increasing returns. This simply means that one service is superior and forces the other into extinction (Laureate Education, Inc., 2009). In this case, the VOD has nearly caused the video store to completely disappear. A video rental store used to be on every corner. Today, the rental stores are few and far between. Instead, people can rent movies from home or as they leave Walmart with their groceries.

It is interesting to look back to see the changes, and then turn our eyes forward to see where we are going. Truly, the future is a mystery, but if we look to our past we can find clues to our infinite possibilities.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Increasing returns. Emerging and future technology. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This week I find myself again surrounded by others who are passionate about technology and its role in education. For the last two days I have been in session after session and by the end of the day Tuesday I was totally braindead. Rather like a sponge that had absorbed all it could, I simply could not take in another drop. Today will be a bit more laid back. I will be an ambassador for We Are Teachers and I will be a volunteer for TCEA. The vendors are here and I am anxious to see what new and exciting tools they have. Of course, there are also some sessions I want to attend, and more people to meet!!

So far I've been to a session about four different models of technology integration with Dr. Roland Rios and Miguel Guhlin. Saw some great data and ideas with Greg Green about flipping the classroom, and so much more!! From using specific software (Thanks, Alexis Cline at TCEA) and apps (too many great educators to name!)and social media to simply being able to visit with others in the field of education and technology - you begin to see why I am on overload.

It amazes me every year to see how many people attend and how many new twists and ideas surface. I leave this conference every time feeling energized and full of ideas. In an email I sent to my principal yesterday I warned her that when this educational technologist returns to be prepared.

I have more ideas and am ready to use them!! Her response? "WOW." If you have never been to TCEA, I encourage you to check it out. You don't have to be in Texas to join - membership is really inexpensive and the benefits are great! There are many opportunities to network with others - both in person and online - and so many ways to collaborate!

For now, my third day is about to begin...I am anxious to get started!! I come!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Disruptive Technology: Second Life

Second Life is a virtual world in which individuals can, according to Philip Rosedale (2008), “build stuff”. Avatars are created to represent the people, and they can buy or sell items, build various types of property, interact with other people, collaborate on projects, or do whatever they can think of doing. 

Dr. Thornburg (2009) discusses disruptive technology as being a new technology that will accomplish the same task, but more efficiently and eventually will replace the old technology, rendering it obsolete. As I read and viewed various videos about Second Life, it seemed as if this was a way to replace physical interaction. On a visit to Second Life in order to learn about it, I found there are many things available for people to be involved in. Companies have built stores where people can take their avatars and spend real-world money for items. Think of it as a more involved way to do a little online shopping. Teachers can build classrooms and students can attend classes in this virtual setting. Educational training can be done online, and save the district the money needed to pay for educators to attend conferences and workshops.

In the area of education, Second Life does seem to have some tempting technology. The video below briefly discusses various uses of the program as an educational tool. 

Being able to take students to Shakespeare’s time and be part of one of the bard’s plays is an amazing idea. Visiting location in ancient history, or the Wild West, and allowing students to participate in activities designed to immerse them in the subject and enhance learning in this manner is very tempting. For me, there is some concern about the social ramifications involved with becoming overly absorbed in this type of environment.  The comment made by Rosedale (2008) that people would prefer their avatars to real life was a concern to me. As fascinating and fun as these types of programs can be, I believe it is also important to interact with people in the real world. Used as a tool, I could envision Second Life being of great value. I would not suggest this format as a replacement. Unfortunately, the human race tends to go to extremes. I am reminded of a movie called “The Surrogates” that came out in 2009. The premise of the film was that people stayed home and lived their lives through a robotic surrogate. In our constant quest for better, faster, and more I could envision a world in which people rely so much on technology that they forget how to rely on each other.


Thornburg, D. (2009). Evolutionary technology. Vodcast: In Laureate Education, Inc. Emerging and future technology.

Rosedale, P. (2008). Philip Rosedale on Second Life [Video]. Retrieved from

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rhymes of History

File:07Delphi Theater03.jpg
Delphi Theater
In ancient times, the Greeks gathered in theaters to watch performers as they enacted plays and skits. Greeks also began the Olympic games that drew people from all over to enjoy watching the athletes in competition.

As I watched and listened to Dr. David Thornburg (2009) discuss the phrase, "rhymes of history", my mind kept coming back to entertainment and how technology rekindled an ancient practice. From the outdoor theater people moved indoors to continue enjoying the antics of actors and actresses. The Olympics grew to include athletes from all over the world.

With technology, the interest in the world of entertainment and the Olympics has been rekindled into major events. Now people can gather anywhere and watch a movie on a laptop, a tablet, or at home on a large screen television. Everything from opera, plays, or the latest blockbuster hits can be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. The Olympics has become even bigger, thanks to technology. Once, people had to travel thousands of miles to be a part of this experience. Today we can cheer for our nation's representatives from our own living room. Even more, we can interact with our favorites with Twitter and Facebook. The athletes are more accessible than ever, as are the games themselves.

The interest in the games - and in all forms of entertainment - are certainly themes repeated throughout history and the face of these events have only changed as the digital world becomes more innovative. With so many people anticipating more changes in technology, people are already now watching these programs in 3D. I wonder if we will eventually be enjoying our favorite programs holographically. Or perhaps, as seen in the science fiction television show, "Star Trek: The Next Generation", we will be able to walk into a room and be immersed in a holographic environment that allows us to recreate the ancient Greek plays and games.

As an educator, I wonder about the impact of technology like this on a classroom. The thought of recreating events for students to truly learn hands-on about history, or science, or any number of topics fills me with excitement. There are times when I think technology moves too quickly. Other times, however, when I allow my imagination to roam freely I wish some of these advances would hurry up so that I can enjoy them, too! As it was pointed out by Kevin Kelly in his speech about the next 5,000 days of the web, it is already amazing what we can do on the internet - it will be fascinating to see what comes next!


Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Rhymes of History  [Video]. In Emerging and future technology [DVD] Baltimore, MD: Author.