Disruption, Technology and the Classroom Teacher
Disruption of the Definition
For years, teachers in many Jamaican classrooms have struggled with how to view and to incorporate technology in the classroom (Virtue, 2015). To be frank, up until most recently, the only word most teachers would have used to describe modern electronic gadgets in the classroom is disruptive. It is that reality that makes this reflection such an experience of irony. In the space of this reflection, disruptive technologies in the classroom hold promise not dread; they represent possibilities not limitations, and they facilitate learning and not hinder it (Flavin, 2012).
Fonseca (2014) outlines that a disruptive technology is “ a new emerging technology that unexpectedly displaces an established one”. The potential power of disruptive technologies is captured by Radcliffe (2014), who describes disruptive technology as “technology that significantly alters the way that businesses operate. A disruptive technology may force companies to alter the way that they approach their business, risk losing market share or risk becoming irrelevant.” In a similar way, disruptive technologies like SixthSense have the power to alter the way the classroom operates.
SixthSense® is a wearable computer system that allows for seamless integration of and interaction between the physical environment and the world of digital information (Mistry, 2010). The interaction is facilitated through gesture-based movement with the aid of a small camera, projector, and mirror (Gupta and Sharma, 2012). This one-stop-shop technology displaces the need to have a cell phone, digital camera and a projector all at the same time. In the classroom it threatens the need for the laptop computer and creates a space where all these devices culminate in a not too large pendant around the neck.
Disruption of Social Experience
From a constructivist perspective, where learning is a social construct (Kafai & Resnick, 1996), there are a number of social benefits to be derived from using SixthSense in the classroom. Kloucek (2010), cites benefits such as improved collaboration among students, greater levels of information sharing among teachers and students and improved relationship building as some of the immediate benefits of implementing SixthSense. Shetty & Rai (2014) have even suggested that the use of technology can facilitate greater levels of communication for persons who cannot speak. This has implication for the success of mixed abilities and differentiated classrooms. Because SixthSense allows of integration of digital and real-world experience it fosters interaction in a way that is apposite to the self-focussed tendencies of other current technology (Kloucek, 2010).
If ever a single technology had the potential of changing the leadership dynamic and the power relations in the classroom, then SixthSense would be it. The fact that all the basic 21st century teaching tools have been collapsed into one pendant that every student in a class can where around their neck, means that the students can fully take control of the learning experience. Through this technology students can fully own their learning and the teacher can take a true facilitatory role – guide on the side. They don’t even have responsibility of managing the technology used in the space.
Disruption of the Disruption?
It is difficult to say when and how SixthSense will be made obsolete. One of its challenges is that it has taken quite a long time to experience the kind or level of diffusion that technology like the multi-media projector enjoys in education. This makes SixthSense still an emerging technology, and that the makes risk of obsolescence high. In his video Disruptive Technologies, Dr David Thornburg recounts how transistor technology replaced the vacuum tube forever. The same is possible for SixthSense if more is not done to facilitate its full emergence. All in all, I say my own sixth sense gives SixthSense approximately five more years on the market.
Gupta, M., & Sharma, S. (2012). Virtual Class room using six sense Technology. IOSR Journal of Computer Engineering (IOSRJCE) Volume, 6.
Flavin, M. (2012). Disruptive technologies in higher education. Research in Learning Technology, 20.
Fonseca, M. (2014). Disruptive Technology Examples: 12 Of The Best Disruptive Technologies. Intelligent Head Quarters. Retrieved 21 October 2016, from http://www.intelligenthq.com/technology/12-disruptive-technologies/
Kafai, Y. B., & Resnick, M. (1996). Constructionism in practice: Designing, thinking, and learning in a digital world. Routledge.
Kloucek, T. (2010). SixthSense for the Classroom by Tom Kloucek. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7VWYFZCEjg
Laureate Education (Producer). (2014a). David Thornburg: Disruptive technologies [Video file]. Baltimore,MD: Author.
Mistry, P. (2010). SixthSense – a wearable gestural interface (MIT Media Lab). Pranavmistry.com. Retrieved from http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/
Mooneegan, V. (2016). Technology Disruption | Vidia Mooneegan | TEDxPlainesWilhems. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk9RVBwiFbM
Radcliffe, B. (2014). Disruptive Technology. Investopedia. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/disruptive-technology.asp
TED India. (Producer). (2009). The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html
Virtue, E. (2015, July 26). Schools Ponder Cell Phone Policy! The Gleaner. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20150726/schools-ponder-cell-phone-policy