2. Speech to Text – Talking to our devices has proven to be challenging.Training our devices to understand our particular nuanced dialects and verbiage choices has been frustrating and annoying – just look at the YouTube videos of people trying to ask their devices to act in one way, only to get another response. But, the detection of human vocal and semantic patterns is getting better every day. More and more people have come to rely on the “hands-free” options for their devices to save time, save from distractions, and save typos on those little keypads.

I think one of the more controversial predictions I’ll make is that 2014 will see a surge of “siri-esque” interactions for students (and occasionally for instructors). While I don’t know that we’ll see it on a test anytime soon (with perhaps second language courses being the notable exception), I’m seeing more and more teacher-bloggers talk about asking their students to keep audio journals and collections of “spoken thought” snippets. The natural evolution is to start simply telling the computers what to do, what to search for, and how to act and I think students will start making far more use of these time-saving tools. 

3. Learning Spaces – If the listservs I subscribe to are an indication, hundreds if not thousands of schools are looking to sink money into the creation of new learning environments. More anecdotal than researched, there is an assumption that changing the spaces of learning will lead to changing the ways students learn and the ways teachers teach. While I personally believe that much of this funding will be largely wasted as there will be a large disparity between innovative architecture, space design, and actual impact, the grants and donations for better, smarter, and more “21st Century” learning spaces will roll in. 

But again, while classrooms may soon look like the deck of the starship Enterprise or like the coolest Internet café, I hope those donors and builders ask questions about how to architect effective learning EXPERIENCES. After all, putting a candle on the table at a Burger Bash doesn’t make it a romantic date – likewise, adding moveable seating, dimming lights, and writeable walls does not a classroom any less boring if the lesson creator doesn’t use them effectively. 

(I’ll blog soon about a friend of mine who recently told the board of a major R-1 university that he could save them millions in learning space design. He emptied a grocery sack on a table with a candle, three colored light bulbs, a sound machine, and two tablets and pronounced, “Here is your learning space of the future…”)


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