ETEC 647e – A reflection on the semester

What a semester this has been! This blog has been a way to reflect on my journey as I muddle my way through emerging technologies as experienced in ETEC 647e. It was definitely a roller coaster with many ups and downs represented by successes and challenges. However in the end, I must admit, I’m exhilarated and I can’t wait to delve further into the many different tools and topics touched on in this class. Some of the things high on my list are:

Flipped videos – with many different tools available now, it’s easier than ever to convert teacher-centered instruction to flipped classrooms. I hope that this will allow me to free up more time in class to interact with students and allowing students to spend more time dialoguing with each other.

Mobile technology – Tablets and smartphones are definitely not going away. And I am continually amazed by the quality of the apps available on the iOS devices. The task is finding the right way to integrate them into the classroom. I would like students to use the iPads as tools to create products to demonstrate their learning and thought process. I think students will also find the iPads to be a wonderful tool to curate and consume resources as well.

MOOCs – Even though it was a very passive learning experience to take the Coursera Nutrition course, I’m hoping that I will be able to learn basics of computer science through MOOCs. I would like to learn more about HTML and CSS as well as other new and emerging computer languages in order to keep up with the trends in technology. Maybe through coding assignments, MOOCs will turn into an active learning experience for me.

As I look forward, there are still yet so many unknowns as to how all these emerging technologies will play out. However, I feel that I have a good grasp on how and when I can use these technologies to further challenge my students while engaging and motivating them to be 21st century learners.

Wearable Technologies and Internet Connected Devices

I shared this YouTube video with my students as a current events topic in Anatomy and Physiology. This is a clip from NBC’s Rock Center on Jan 23, 2013.

Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Chief Academic Officer of San Diego-based Scripps Health, believes the digital revolution will change the future of medicine. It’s amazing the apps he showcased in the video: portable EKG, blood glucose monitor, etc.

My students were so impressed by the gadgets from the video. It really stimulated a lot of discussion in class about how these devices might work and how it could be beneficial for the patients. We also wondered if too much information maybe bad.

I also shared with my students my own experience with wearable technologies:

  • Fitbit – I wear my Fitbit Zip everyday to track my steps and calories burned. It syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth with my iPhone. And by linking my nutrition log on MyFitnessPal, I am able to see my calories in/out on a daily basis as well as over a period of time on the Fitbit website.

Calories in/out

  • Digifit – I use this app (available on iPhone and Android) along with the Polar Bluetooth heart rate monitor to track my heart rate during my workouts. The added bonus is it also syncs with my Fitbit data for a seamless fitness ecosystem.

Digifit home       Digifit HR data 

I am a gadget junkie and I use these devices to motivate me to be more active while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. I have been using the above devices for about 6 months and I love them!

The iPhone just celebrated its 6th birthday this year. And it’s amazing how much wireless technology along with internet connected devices (via iOS apps) have skyrocketed in recent years. I do agree with Dr. Topol that this digital revolution will change not only the field of medicine, but our daily lives.

Augmented Reality in Education


My only real experience with augmented reality (AR) is with StarWalk on the iOS devices. I been using StarWalk off and on for about 2 years. It started out when I was teaching an astronomy unit for 7th grade science. In a word, the StarWalk app is awesome! It’s simple to use and brings astronomy to a level where anyone can appreciate and understand. Even my 5 year old loves using the app on nights we go out to star gaze. For my 7th graders, I used it in the classroom to show the different constellation and how the location of stars change depending on season, etc. Some ended up downloading it and using it on their own. That in itself shows how well this AR app works in the education setting.

Now, 2 years later, there has been more development in this new field. Just from my quick look at YouTube to create a playlist for this week’s assignment, I found that several companies have created AR apps to teach chemical bonding in Chemistry. Genius! When I was teaching Chemistry, it’s one of the harder topics to teach since it requires students to imagine the electrons moving around in the atom. Students often wonder, “how do electrons get shared?” or “why would sharing be better?”. With these AR apps, students can see how compounds are formed by putting 2 element cards together. Here’s a YouTube showing how one particular AR software works:

Here’s a YouTube video using AR tags on the iPhone:

Hopefully, these types of AR apps will be affordable enough so that all students / teachers will have access to the material.