Top 10 Smart Technologies for Schools

By McLester, Susan | Technology & Learning, November 2002 | Go to article overview

Top 10 Smart Technologies for Schools


McLester, Susan, Technology & Learning


1 Voice to Text From disabled students to administrators on the go, many will benefit from the speedier and broader access to literacy made possible through VTT.

2 Next Wave Mobile Computing Which tools hold the most promise as the best wireless solutions for schools?

3 Hybrid Computing From robots to interactive "talk back" books, hybrid technologies put a new spin on traditional play and work.

4 Virtual Reality Students are gaining unprecedented hands-on experience and advancing intellectual exploration with VR.

5 Artificial Intelligence With the help of computer applications that think like humans, teachers get a boost in targeting instruction to meet the unique needs of each student.

6 Telementoring An entire world of subject-area expertise is available to both educators and students through interactive online environments.

7 Assessment on the Fly new class of assessment tools streamlines diagnostic and evaluation processes.

8 Digital Video Production DV combines the dual challenges of scripting a compelling narrative and applying technology know-how.

9 Fingerprint Recognition Automating attendance and other "busy work" tasks and increasing personal security are just a couple of the revolutionary uses of this technology for schools.

10 The Brain Recent findings in neuroscientific research yield exciting discoveries about brain circuitry and learning.

What's a "smart" technology? While one might argue that all technology--from a toaster to a moon rover--is smart, those we present in the following Top 10 list meet their own set of criteria. In contrast to the breakthroughs we profiled last year, which included such broad topics and trends as wireless and virtual learning, the technologies we've chosen to examine here perform more specific, identifiable functions. Fingerprint recognition and artificial intelligence can free educators and school staff of time-consuming tasks. Telementoring and virtual reality enable collaborations and instant expert guidance from any spot on earth. And voice-to-text technology and hybrid devices support young and challenged learners in formerly unheard of ways. In the hands of well-trained educators, these technologies can offer powerful new solutions for teaching children.

1 Voice to Teat

A language learner pronounces a word and immediately sees it in text on a computer screen. A principal dictates to-do activities while driving to school and arrives with a list on his handheld. VTT offers a whole new level of support for literacy.

By Jason Older

The next step in the evolution of writing technology is just as magical as the shift from typewriter to word processor: voice to text. Simply put, voice-to-text technology allows you to speak into a microphone and watch your words appear on your computer screen as a word processing file. Current options allow you to talk to your computer as well as to handheld recorders, which then download to your computer.

While VTT has made great strides in recent years, there are still some kinks that need working out before it's entirely feasible for classrooms. For starters, the software needs to be trained to understand your voice--which can take anywhere from four to eight hours--and you will need to teach it words that it doesn't know. As of this writing, mainstream packages like Dragon Naturally Speaking and ViaVoice have achieved about 90 percent to 95 percent accuracy. Rumors persist that VTT is approaching nearly 100 percent accuracy, but we haven't seen it yet. In the near future, it will be as commonplace to include VTT in a computer purchase as it is to include a DVD/CD-ROM drive today. Microsoft already has plans to include VTT in its much-awaited Tablet PC.

Beyond the training time required, there are additional justifiable concerns about VTT. Whereas the word processor has greatly improved upon the typewriter, VTT offers a more dramatic change--primarily because writing and speaking are two very different ways of communicating. …

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