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Mar 02, 2017 Phylise Banner

5 Gadgets and Gizmos on my EdTech Wish List

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Modern Learning EdTechAs a Learning Experience Designer, I am always promoting the theory and research behind the work that I do, and stressing that “it’s not about the technology." We create learning solutions that meet the needs of our learners through mindful approaches, not through technology. 

At the same time, I’m a geek. I love my tech, and I love how technology enables me to think differently about the learning experiences that I create for my clients. I’m always on the lookout for new EdTech, or any technology that I can shape to meet my instructional needs.

Here are a few gadgets and gizmos that I have on my wish list. Some are under $10, but I still haven’t purchased them. The real cost comes in the time it would take to develop and implement a meaningful learning solution with some of these items on my list.


Wearable technologies (like smartwatches) are becoming more prevalent. I have an Apple watch, and although I like the functionality, it’s not my favorite thing to wear. As a learning professional, I want technology that I can adorn myself with and interact with others to make learning happen.

If you’ve been to Disney, you may have gotten a Magic Band. It was your ticket, your entry to rides, your room key, etc. I welcome the opportunity to design a learning experience with that technology.

I want to be able to distribute learning bands for my learners, and create a learning ecosystem that incorporates a wearable tracking device of some sort -- one that stores my data and lets me interact with others using some sort of learning currency.


iBeacon is a technology protocol from Apple that enables mobile apps to notice beacon signals from your physical surroundings and transmit information to your devices. For example, there may be several different iBeacon devices set up in a conference venue. When you walk past one, information might pop up on your phone, telling you that you can pick up your conference badge right there, or letting you know that you are at a specific vendor’s booth.

Again, I see so many different ways to integrate this into the learning landscape. In a closed workplace situation, you could set up iBeacons that transmit location-specific information to assembly line workers – along the lines of “if you’re here, you need to know this”. Or iBeacons could transmit links to microlearning pieces that are related to physical locations within a production facility.

Heads Up Displays (HUDs)

I was a lucky recipient of a Google Glass invitation, but turned down the offer based on the asking price. I like the technology that has come from there, and would love to get my hands on the latest iterations of heads up displays to figure out ways to incorporate that technology into training situations.

HUDs are transparent digital images that are projected on the windshield of cars and airplanes. The idea is that the data you need is where you should be looking – not down on a dashboard.

Now situate that technology into a training scenario. Imagine learning how to operate machinery with more visual guidance overlays (without having to wear a special headset), and without having to look away at a job aid or video.

I want to learn how to MAKE these HUDs. My brain is on fire just thinking about the possibilities here.

The HoloPortation Device

Virtual meeting applications are evolving to include more bells and whistles, and actually some of the top players in the market are finding ways to simplify their interfaces to be more mobile friendly. Well, I’m ready to get more complicated! Bring on the holoportation device, please.

The concept is that holoportation devices could project you into another place – anywhere that can receive the transmission. A full representation of you, being displayed in 3D in another place!

The i3D research team at Microsoft has actually figured out to create a live hologram of a person that can be displayed in another place. It requires a large number of 3D cameras that capture the image and then project them into another place where you can interact with them while wearing a virtual reality headset (in this case, the Microsoft Hololens). With the cost of 3D cameras coming down, who knows? This might be right around the corner, and then I maybe I can Holoport over to visit you!

The Terrafugia

It may not seem like an EdTch focus area to you, but I take my transportation seriously, and traveling to meet with clients, offer workshops, or present at conferences can take up a lot of my time. As a private pilot, I’ve been watching the development of the Terrafugia for years (it’s a flying car).

Imagine being able to get to a client’s office in less than half the time it takes on the road, and then folding up the wings and driving right over to the office. A girl can dream, right?

Thinking Differently

These gadgets and gizmos are just the tip of the iceberg. I would say each of these is on my list because they make me think differently about making learning happen – about designing, developing, delivering, producing, and facilitating the next evolution of modern blended learning.

Join me next week as I do some serious crystal ball gazing into the future of EdTech!

Related Resources

Article: Disney's $1 Billion Bet on a Magical Wristband 
A fantastic explanation of context-aware technology, and how the "ease of use" plays into technology adoption rates. 

Article: Is iBeacon Marketing Finally Taking Off?
This Huffington Post article provides some interesting possibilities for iBeacon uses, and provides some explanations of why this technology hasn't really taken off yet. 

Video: Holoportation: Virtual 3D Teleportation in Real-Time
This video shows you how Microsoft does holoportation. It's amazing to see how it works!


Published by Phylise Banner March 2, 2017
Phylise Banner