Category Archives: EdTech

Adventure via Oculus

My mind has moved into 2021 as I start to plan my next adventures. But my body had been struggling with 2020 pandemic workout options.

First Time on Oculus
First Time on Oculus

That is until I discovered the Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headset. My son-in-law introduced me to it and I knew immediately that I needed to have this technology. The opportunity to immerse yourself is another place such as a good backpacking trek totally justified the purchase. Then I explored some exercise oriented apps and decided to buy a 1 year subscription to SuperNatural.

So this is my short post about how the Oculus 2 Headset has allowed my Adventures to Continue. The YouTube VR Library is growing with some really great 360 videos. Plus there is Oculus TV which gives you many options to travel around the world. But then I explored the exercise option and realized that this VR thing could be the answer to the exercise motivation needed to keep my old body ready for the live adventures. I have never participated in any organized exercise program. I don’t do yoga and I have never joined a health club for exercise. But this SuperNatural App made exercise enjoyable and I have selected a few coaches who I like and my body is truly starting to experience the rewards. The concept of hitting black and white balls coming at you with virtual bats along with squatting under triangle barriers also coming at you is good. I decided to write a post after ending a session where I worked out on the surface of the moon as well as at my favorite backpacking location of Tom, Dick & Henry Mountain. The technique of placing you in a beautiful setting hitting balls and squeezing under virtual tunnels gives your body a complete workout. You can work up a sweat with a good 15 minute session and you definitely have to push yourself to finish the longer sessions. Here is the SuperNatural Promo Video:

Exercise via Your Oculus VR Headset

This Virtual Reality tech is not entirely new to me. As a CIO in Higher Education I have watched the progression of the VR Technology. In the early days a team of many developers would spend months to develop an immersive experience on the high priced Oculus headset of the day. But now VR’s time has arrived and Facebook’s purchase of Oculus is a part of it. The Headset is relatively affordable now because the money is going to be made off the apps. This is just the next Playstation or XBox. BTW – my right arm is a bit sore from playing so much Table Tennis on the Eleven app.

Update 6 weeks later – still very positive. I have been meeting my goal of working out 4 times a week and I am seeing amazing improvements with strength and flexibility. I don’t worry to much about points, I realize that just doing the workout is a victory. The thing that bugs me the most is when I hit a ball with the wrong colored bat. I think the mental exercise aspect of the workout is as important as the physical. I think the combination of exercising and then getting in the Hot Tub is great for the body. I have always had low back concerns and now I feel so much more confident. I can’t wait to hit the ski slopes or the backpacking trail to enjoy what this old body can do.

TLT at S&T March 12-13, 2015

Fresh back from the ELI Conference I wanted to compare the agenda for our upcoming Teaching and Learning Technology Conference, TLT, scheduled for March 12-13 here at the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in Rolla, MO. This conference has matured over the years to be a leading regional conference for Education Technology. Under the direction of Meg Brady, Director, and Angie Hammons, Manager, of Education Technology at Missouri S&T, this conference has an all star lineup with extremely relevant sessions. 

Plus: TLT will be hosting a CanvasCon by Instructure on the 12th.

The Keynote Speakers:

Robbie K. Melton, Ph.D. — Associate Vice Chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology; Tennessee Board of Regents,  “The Emergence of Mobile and Smart Devices: Is Your Device Smarter than You?”

Jeff Schramm, Ph.D. — Associate Professor of History & Political Science; Missouri S&T, “MOOC’s, LMS, ELI, PRR, CB&Q and EMD: What the history of technology can teach us about the future of higher education.”

I love the fact that this conference brings together many innovative professors in higher education along with their Instructional Designers, Developers and Technologists, plus many from K-12 who want to make sure their students are properly prepared for college. TLT does carry some Missouri S&T STEM influence but I believe that it only strengthens how EdTech is applied to the liberal arts community. An exciting area of development in the last year has been with the preparation of virtual labs for chemistry and biology.

OH yes, did I mention that our TLT is FREE….

Good Look at our iGFU Mobile Portal

Our student News team wanted to do a story on our iGFU Mobile Portal. They tried to video record a demo off of an iPAD which was not going to work so iGFU author, Brian McLaughlin, made them a simple tutorial that we now use on our website. Checkout the tutorial if you have any interest in what a university mobile portal needs to be. Remember, our mobile portal is basically a skunk works project that leverages the flexibility and performance of HTML5 using Java and PHP to access useful data from general data feeds, Moodle and our PeopleSoft ERP.

The tutorial also highlights a couple of other useful tools. Brian made the video by using an App called AirServer that allows him to mirror an IOS device to his MacBook. He then records it with Quicktime and with a little editing on iMovie you get a very real view of a mobile app. Then we upload the video to our new ShareStream video distribution system which gives us total flexiblity to manage and distribute video (especially if we want to manage copyright). We are investigating if AirServer might offer a better path for iPad mirroring to projector in the classroom.

Faculty Conference Kicks Off the New Year

We held our faculty “Kick-off the Year” conference yesterday and I would say it was a great success considering it was the first time in many years that we did not hold the conference down at the coast. The focus of the conference was about incorporating various aspects of technology in support of teaching. We had a great keynote speaker in Bill Rankin from Abilene Christian University. His talk “Flights of Discovery: Transformation in Third-Age Education” sufficiently conveyed that we need to change our way of dealing with this Data driven era, “But How”. Plenty of good examples about how students are learning more with real world experience and less in old world classroom lectures. But how might we change this? I pitched the services that my IT department provides for our faculty but we don’t come close to offering the resources that they really need. This video touches on the less obvious.

I listened to our faculty ask great questions about how they might engage or inspire their students. Sure the use of technology could help, especially shifting to a more blended learning approach, but that is not the total answer. My take-away was that we can only do the best we can under the current structure. And by structure I mean classes delivered in a weekly schedule over a semester type period of time. Sure it would be great if our Social Sciences courses could hold class in a homeless shelter in downtown Portland, but that doesn’t work in this structure. So then I contemplated different structures like courses meet for a week at a time a few times through the semester, but that does not work. When you have many students all trying to piece together a schedule that accommodates all their needs and the needs of all the other students and faculty we end up with what we have. What would it take to really shake this up? I’m not sure but I think it may involve tearing down that structure. Maybe redefine what a class is altogether. Yikes, a bit scary but you know, it may be worth exploring.

Good Luck Adrian

We are starting to see the new wave of digital content that foretells the impending digital transformation of higher education. My EdTech team now understands that the trend for these digital materials is moving toward more sophisticated web based packages and of course E-Textbooks represent the most rapid transition. As our university’s president has been trying to convey to our community, we the academic institution is no longer the source for information, we must learn to be the mentor for the information that our students now have access to. We will no longer discount the value of public or commercial sources for information because we can no longer compete with their quality.

Possibly a significant milestone for this transition is the announcement of my higher education IT colleague, Adrian Sannier, becoming the Vice President of Product Marketing for Pearson eCollege. Adrian has been the UTO of Arizona State University for the last five years. In that time many of his accomplishments are representative of the transition of higher education. Outsourcing, ERP efficiency, business collaboration such as for the delivery of communication services. However, what Adrian may be most known for is his statement that we should just burn down the libraries and quit wasting money air conditioning all of those books. Well you know, Adrian is now in a position where he can actually influence this change that he has spoken about. I can’t think of a better person to be at the creative helm for one of the companies that will help lead that charge.

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