Modern technology has changed the way we live and work – and how we learn.
By Maggie Tiojakin
Sure, it’s fun to surf the web and hook up with potential mates on social networking systems. But changes in lifestyle mean changes in our understanding of the world. In this new age of paperless books and digital classrooms, student life is one of high-tech pursuit and convenience.
Here are some items for your back-to-school wish list.
It’s Not A Pen, It’s A Scanner
Remember when we thought life was great because we could make electronic copies of documents and photos simply by slipping the items we wanted to duplicate into a machine that looks like a photocopier but isn’t? And remember how unbelievably cool it was when they produced a mini-scanner the size of a book, which we could move around if need be? Well, that was centuries ago in technology speak. The latest must-have gizmo is the digi-pen, or a pen scanner, which also (depending on the brand) works as a translator. One of the most popular brands is the QuickLink from WizCom Technologies. It looks kind of like a highlighter, but it has the magical capacity to store scanned information plus translate it using the featured dictionary application. Accidentally stumbled upon some sacred text? Scan it! Wait, pen it! For more information, go to http://www.wizcomtech.com.
Losing a mobile phone is frustrating. First, there’s your data ID. Second, all those contact numbers! Third – well, who needs a third after those two? YouGetItBack Ltd. has developed a unique concept that lets you tag your phone and, should you lose it, make it possible for whoever finds it to return it to you. It works like a dog tag, except this tag is registered online; whoever finds a phone can just log on to the site to find out the owner’s return address and contacts. Nobody loses their mobile phone as often as your average college student, so this may just be the perfect invention for them. But what if someone stole the phone, you ask? Good question. YouGetItBack has developed a software program called Mobile Superhero, which lets you back up all your data and then erase it from the handheld device at your convenience. It also provides a GPS feature allowing you to track your phone’s whereabouts on a map. For more information, go to http://www.yougetitback.com.
Bags for Packs
Studies show the weight you carry on your back significantly affects your bone structure: The heavier it is, the more likely you are to become a latter-day version of Quasimodo. Incase Design has the answer: a nylon backpack. Designed with lots of padding, zipper pockets and comfortable shoulder straps, this particular backpack will accommodate all your daily school luggage without straining your back. The bag comes with various compartments suitable for your MP3 player, cell phone, cables and a mouse. Weighing in at 1.5 kg, Incase Nylon Backpack is great for full-time students. For more information, go to http://www.goincase.com
Rise and Shine!
So your children find it hard to get up in the morning? No amount of screaming, wheedling or threatening works? Try Philips HF3490 Wake-Up Light. It may look like a soft and unassuming pillow, but this latest invention by Philips is meant to subtly rouse young ones from the dark embrace of sleep and have them heading out into the bright morning sunshine. Research shows that our eyes are sensitive to light, even when they are closed. So if you don’t have the heart to kick your children out of bed, put this device on their night table. The device is equipped with an iPod dock, which can generate wake-up sounds to go with the light, such as “jungle sounds” or “morning birds.” For more information, go to http://www.usa.philips.com.
Don’t Raise Your Hand, Tweet Instead
Twitter is probably the world’s most popular social networking system, after Facebook. On a regular day, Twitter users exchange 50 million tweets with each other. The bottom line is, people talk, and they do so via a microblogging system that is taking the world by storm. So why not take it into the classroom? Kerry Ramsay, a professor at Loyalist College, gave a seminar in May on “Using Twitter to Enhance Collaborative Learning”. When a discussion topic is placed on the microblogging site, students can argue the issue among themselves and then present their conclusions to the instructor, who can moderate the discussion further. Ramsay says Twitter won’t replace classroom discussions, but “it could enhance them by establishing a safe format for both introverted and extroverted students”. So, um, maybe via an iPhone? Ka-ching! For more information go to http://www.apple.com.