Friday, 31 December 2010

What sort of learning benefit might we expect by using technology?

In Puentedura's presentation (2006), he asks "what type of things improve performance". This was to try to obtain a 2 standard deviation (SD) improvement for EVERY student, following his presentation of the result of US students in the OECD PISA Report. These tests emphasised performance rather than what courses the students take in each country. Conclusion - Commonwealth countries (and Japan, Korea, China, Finland) do better than average, most of Europe and the USA are in the average category.
He quotes Bloom's work from 1984 into research on how to accomplish improvement - conclusion that one-to-one tutoring by experienced tutors produce a 2 standard deviation gain in learning. But other aspects give improvement too (warning - not additive):
1.20  Reinforcement
1.00  Feedback-corrective (Mastery Learning)
1.00  Cues and explanations
1.00  Student classroom participation
1.00  Student time on task
1.00  Improved reading/study skill
0.80  Cooperative learning
0.80  Homework (graded)
0.60  Classroom morale
0.60  Initial cognitive prerequisites
0.50  Home environment intervention
0.40  Peer and cross-age remedial tutoring
(Bloom 1984, Walberg 1984)
All these are interesting and I will follow up this work, but, but, Puentedura maintains that Computer use will produce AT LEAST 0.4 SDs and up to 2.0 SD. This work was done in Mathematics.
You have to do things well to achieve these results, thinking in terms of the SAMR and TPCK models.
He highlights four technological avenues to transformation (here transformation being used specifically to produce these types of radical improvements in learning):
Visualisation and Simulation
Social Computing
Digital Storytelling
Educational Gaming.

Combining two models for designing learning with technology

My previous post introduced the TPCK model of teacher knowledge which helps us examine the types of knowledge a teacher needs when designing learning with technology. The best explanation of this model, and how it combines with Ruben Puentedura's SAMR model of technological use, is given in his presentation available on I-Tunes ( "As We May Teach: Educational Technology, University of Maine").
He describes each intersection of the TPCK model in detail and is worth listening to. In this link he lists exemplar resources to illustrate each intersection. 
Puentedura's SAMR model enables us to classify technology used in teaching depending upon whether it SUBSTITUTES, AUGMENTS, MODIFIES or REDEFINES the task. He depicts SA as Enhancing the learning and MR as Transforming the learning, where the technology allows for learning tasks which would not have been possible before.

Ruben Puentedura describes the SAMR model in this slide show from presentations given at a conference in 2006.
This model may enable us to classify the technology used in schools and to allow us to question the value of technology in a particular area. 
By value I think we should mean whether learning is enhanced, made more accessible, more interesting, more motivating.
It is possible that learning could be enhanced at the pure substitution level. The model does not seem to imply that learning is improved per se - just that technology is substituting traditional tasks/methods. 
By definition, the model considers improvement from A onwards.
If we start to consider each course we prepare in these terms, it will allow us to determine the value of the technology to be used - is it improving the learning?
In the conference slide show, Puentedura explains where his model originated. He developed it to describe the uptake of technology by firms in a study. Interestingly, he maintained that those where the technology Redesigned the way the tasks were carried out, had the greatest return on the technological investment. In a way this makes sense.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Searching for a model for learning with technology

It is tempting but futile to try to answer questions on educational technology just by looking at the latest technology available. Equally, it is futile to keep doing the same things (buying the same things) - see my earlier post on the Capital Budget.
How should we be using technology in learning and teaching?
What models of learning with (through? assisted by?) technology exist?

In 1986 Lee Shulman introduced the idea of considering the teacher's SUBJECT knowledge (the content) and the teacher's PEDAGOGICAL tool kit (my terms) together, and not as separate entities. He illustrated it thus:
He stated that these areas were treated as mutually exclusive entities in research and in training teachers. The crucial intersection, that of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), is often ignored:
"This knowledge includes knowing what teaching approaches fit the content, and likewise, knowing how elements of the content can be arranged for better teaching. This knowledge is different from the knowledge of a disciplinary expert and also from the general pedagogical knowledge shared by teachers across disciplines. PCK is concerned with the representation and formulation of concepts, pedagogical techniques, knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn, knowledge of students’ prior knowledge and theories of epistemology. It also involves knowledge of teaching strategies that incorporate appropriate conceptual representations, to address learner difficulties and misconceptions and foster meaningful understanding. It also includes knowledge of what the students bring to the learning situation, knowledge that might be either facilitative or dysfunctional for the particular learning task at hand. This knowledge of students includes their strategies, prior conceptions (both “naïve” and instructionally produced); misconceptions students are likely to have about a particular domain and potential misapplications of prior knowledge." (from, accessed 29Dec10)

This makes perfect sense and it is how we think about preparing learning in schools. As a mathematics teacher I consider the content knowledge of what I am about to teach, the pedagogical knowledge in its broader sense AND the specific teaching knowledge regarding the mathematical content. This latter, often gained by experience over time in an iterative process each time I prepare to teach it.

The same type of model exists for technology, introducing Technology as a new interacting domain.

Here is the diagram now that we include Technology: (diagram from TPCK)
The point is that each intersection deserves attention. An excellent presentation about this is done by Ruben Puentedura - it is worth listening to on I-Tunes -  "As We May Teach: Educational Technology, Maine Uni". He does this as the introduction to SAMR - an item for my next post.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Adult learning vs student learning

Came across a discussion regarding the difference between adult learning/teaching (andragogical learning theory) and student/child learning/teaching (pedagogical learning theory).
This was interesting - and relevant to educational technology - since it deals with who has the responsibility for learning to take place.  In andragogical learning theory it is the adult learner who has the responsibility for the learning to have taken place, whilst in school based learning, the educator is assumed to have that responsibility.
Where does the pedagogical/adragogical change occur? We talk about developing study skills in students, of having less directed time for older students, but it seems that school based educators never lose that responsibility for the learning to have taken place.
Should this be so? When should young adults take over that responsibility?
And should the adult educators (lecturer is the normal title - telling indeed) not have some of that responsibility?

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Gazing into a crystal ball - what is the platform for the future?

Many schools must be going through the same process as we are - deciding what to include in our capital budget. Times are sufficiently tight to have us questioning every item.
We have to replace some laptops in laptop carts and others that have definitely seen their "consume before" date; we want to expand the Macs available in our Learning Resources Centre and provide some replacement PCs; we need to provide some additional computers to new staff and classrooms. All in all a fairly large bill.
But where is the technology going? Are we ready to have more students in Secondary with a laptop? But are laptops the way to go? What about platforms that handle social media well? Mobiles?

Ravit Lichtenberg has a track record of accurate predictions and her article "10 Ways Social Media will change in 2011" is particularly interesting.

Here are her predictions: (in bold what I think applies to schools)
1. Social media will be supersized - social media solutions will be everywhere.
2. Companies will integrate social feedback into their decision making processes - "Expect to see a rise in companies who, by end of year, will be recognized for socially-informed innovation, customer focus and work environment, —much like Zappos and Amazon were a few years back." Schools need to see how to encourage and manage responsible commenting to get parent, student and staff opinion.
3. Mobile will become our gateway to the world - now, this I think is happening already. Many e-mails that I get are I-Phone or Blackberry generated. I have used mine when away from the desk and found it acceptable for many things (not for inputing - I could not have done this post on my mobile without great difficulty if at all). But, given that Blackberry Messenger seems to be the communications medium of choice amongst students, couldn't internet enabled mobiles be the thing? We are using Facebook for some announcements - much easier to receive these on a social media mobile phone.
4. Video will be everywhere - well, it is already. What used to be the exclusive report back system for students - Powerpoint - is now digital video (live or animation).
5. The next big Online Social Network will not be a network at all - the rise of community platforms and applications. Diaspora is quoted as an example. I think Google Apps for Education is one already....
6. ROI will be redefined - "ROI metrics will go beyond counting Likes and Comments" - yes, but how else would you measure the impact your social media platform is having?
7. Psychology is shifting - wow! I found this interesting - new levels of cognitive flexibility - brought about by changes in social interactions brought about by social media. Clearly there are changes at the relationship psychology level - but could there be brain plasticity in action producing students whose brains are changing and adapting and being reskilled? Wow!
8. Citizen activism back brings purpose and power - (back? why back?) - should consider students activism and also such activism working against a school's direction.
9. Social business intelligence will heat up and so will privacy - the mapping of our activities, preferences and choices may not be welcome - do we all share Mark Zukerberg's naive view about Facebook profiles? Should schools run their social media behind a firewall?
10. The role of the social media strategist will be changing - and what companies want from them will be much more informed and demanding.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Configuración de seguridad de FACEBOOK - en español

(Thank you Silvia S. for voicing over the video on Facebook security settings into Spanish, and thanks to Jennifer G. for the video!)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Graffiti Stop Motion - Exemplars

You have to admire not only the artistry and imagination, but also the patience - it must have taken ages:

(both by Blu)

Stop Motion Exemplars

We are working on getting good digital film making being done by students at school.
Really good examples of stop motion film making are hard to come by - here are two from PES:

Interesting things.... from Creative Labs at Google

The World is full of interesting things - so says the opening slide of 119 slides.
The slide show contains examples and links of interesting applications and websites, using Google services of one kind or another, under the headings:
Audio, Movies, Vizual (sic), Art, Physical, Light, Tech, Politics, Sports, Books, History and Advertising.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Future of the Book - not just turning pages

This presentation from IDEO considers three formats for e-reader type book presentation: Nelson, Coupland and Alice.
The current e-readers are fashioned on books - a take-anywhere book replacement. The formats discussed here really try to add value, much more than just swiping with your finger to turn the page.

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Moving calendars into Google Apps for Education

The early adopters' curse...
We have been a Google Apps for Education school since May 2006 - but we have been using Google Calendars for our school calendars well before then.
These were on private Gmail accounts, and as such could not be used with our Apps Groups system - so we decided to import these calendars to our "dash net" system (what we call Google Apps).
We set up a new calendar using a dummy user and then each calendar (Primary, Secondary and Whole School).
Exporting from the original Gmail calendars was easy. From Calendar Settings on the drop down arrow of the calendar, you press the ICAL button on the calendar address. Pressing the OK downloads a basic.ics file. This is the one you then import into the Apps calendar that you have prepared.
It was a smooth process.
Some tips:
a) keep the basic.ics file from each calendar - you then have a back-up if things go wrong;
b) restrict the old calendars to private view so that they then do not appear - there does seem to be some time lag, however, since we had some unexplainable appearances of the old calendar;
c) name your new calendar DIFFERENTLY so that you can recognise the new one from the old one, if things do not work out well (see b);
d) share using the Groups system - first signs are that the clicking on the link added the calendar - do remember that you will probably get threaded messages from your dummy user account notifying you of the new calendar and you may have to "show text" to be able to see it;
e) Macs - there seem to be some problems here - investigating these but first comments are that it was easier to add by url.
You would have thought that it would be easy to find a group calendar. Not a bit. A plea to Google - please make it easier to find group calendars within a domain! Perhaps a tab on Browse Interesting Calendars listing all the group calendars shared within the domain?
Okay - calendars out of the way, blogs next when these become part of Google Apps....

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Bill Gates on F2F or online education

Bill Gates' take on where there may be change in the future, from the Technology conference in San Francisco.
He talks about K-12 (or K-9) being a different situation from college education. In the latter, the costs of place based education is unaffordably high and could come down to $2,000 using technology.
For schools, he believes that the socialising/care roles of schools (a place for the children to be whilst the parents do other things) will not change.

Sites in Google Apps - wikis with easily managed permissions

Sites is the Google version of wikis within Google Apps for Education.
Being within the Apps domain, permissions are very easily managed. With groups of users previously set up, permissions can be set at three levels - we have called these "A", "N" and "P".
It is possible to share the site with everyone ("A" for all):
Clicking this makes that site visible to all.

If you want to restrict it to all your users in your apps domain, then there is a box to check to do that - and you can choose to allow edits or just viewing.
And finally, you can invite members of your domain to be "owners", "collaborators" or "viewers" ("P" for obvious reasons).
We have placed all our documentation on-line using sites, with permissions accordingly.
Embedding within sites works well. It is also possible to embed Google docs and forms within the site (but remember that the permissions have to match the site ones).

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

GMail Calling

Google announced that calls can be made (to the US) from within GMail. They hope to emulate Skype.
Will this challenge Skype?
Not sure but I do like the idea of convergence onto one system or device. I do not normally switch my Skype on unless I need to make a call, whereas I would be available for calls anytime I was on GMail.
In the middle of a presentation perhaps?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Groups in Google Apps - allowing bulk handling of sharing

Google Apps for Education is a powerful set of tools for collaboration.
Using "Groups" in Google Apps allows users to be assigned to their working or interest groups.
There are two ways to do this in Apps, and it is useful to point out the difference.
Contacts allows mailing lists to be made AT THE INDIVIDUAL'S LEVEL. Here you are able to name a list and assign people in your contacts to the list.
Groups, if properly set up, allows users to make a working or interest group at the institution level. This is really powerful because it allows permissions to be assigned for Google Docs or Google Sites by using Groups - no one-by-one individual assigning.
Additionally, changing the original Group list will change the permission for the Doc or Site - no need to go back to individual Docs or Sites to edit the permissions.
Fernando, our excellent Systems Manager, explained to me how Groups works at this school (we call our Apps system "dash net" to differentiate it from our previous mailing list system).

Monday, 23 August 2010

Apple marketing video for the i-Pad

This video provides a (hyped-up?) list of i-Pad functionality, and thus useful to try to get a measure of all that it can do.

Does it live up to this?
Generally yes. I was surprised since I did think of it as a larger i-Touch (which it is). But the larger screen and the ability to interact with it makes the experience a totally different one. Add to this apps which have been specially redesigned for it, the superb colour and definition of the lcd interactive screen, its battery power, and it really does make you say "wow".
Grumbles? Well, Flash does not work on it so some content unattainable. You cannot have that. And single-tasking is a pain...

Monday, 9 August 2010

New GApps control panel to manage domains and divisions

The new version of the Google Apps administrator's control panel allows users to be organised into multiple domains and divisions.
This will allow the owner of multiple domains to use each as a separate entity but allowing users to share calendars or documents in any part of the organisation. There are some restrictions.
Education edition GApps administrators will be able to define their organisational structure and divide users into divisions, determining which services are available to users in each division.
Since schools consists of obviously different groups (students, staff, parents, alumni, etc), it may be useful to have domains with names that make more sense; also, defining structures for divisions will again enable services to be switched on or off.
We are about to implement some of this and will write about what happens...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Google Apps to add more apps

Google announces that Blogger, Reader, Picasa Web Albums and other Google services will shortly be available directly from Google Apps accounts (business and education editions). It seems that it will involve "a significant overhaul to our underlying systems" and so are moving forward carefully. It is welcomed - although my Chrome browser seems to handle the new services and the old apps on different tabs, there are hiccups at times.
How will they manage transfer of existing services on other accounts? Will we be able to transfer or will it apply only to new content on applications to be offered on Google Apps?
LATER: there must be some transition work - trying to open GDocs on Apps from a link on the docs main page and getting "We are sorry but xxx does not have access to this account" on a document with only me having permission to view/edit whilst opening with no problems when opening another shared document! Very curious.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Waving no more

I did wonder if Google Wave was ever going to be useful. Apart from a go when it first came out and then a little flourish just a while ago, I hardly used it. Tried. Tried to stir some interest (as much in myself as well as in others) but Gmail was not replaced.
If Wave had happened at the beginning, then perhaps it might have been different. But there was no social media concept then.
Google state that it will not continue to develop Wave but will maintain the site "at least through the end of the year" and will extend the use of the technology to other Google products. This may be interesting since the instant and continuous editing in Wave is amazing.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

There one minute, gone the next.

There one minute, gone the next. Or so it seems.
Ning turned out to be not just another strange internet name but a really useful method for bringing people together for a purpose.
I first used Nings to follow the Shanghai 2008 Learning conference, virtually. I was able to see those who attended, listen to podcasts and read accounts. I caught up with old friends as well as had a sense of the event.
Since that time I have used the same account to access other Ning social platforms and events.
But Nings are changing:
"New plans and pricing announced! We're focusing 100% on paying Ning Networks and will begin phasing out our free service in July". (From Ning website)
Okay, it is good to pay for things of value. But for education, Nings had turned out to be a good tool and being FREE is valuable. 
Why the change? Why not have other revenue streams, or at least the free basic service and charge for the one without adverts....?
Listening to the BBC Digital Planet podcast about the IDLELO 4 conference in Ghana, brought home to me the necessity to ensure that the software one uses is UNDER YOUR CONTROL. The participants of this conference stressed the need not to rely on Western (ie US) programs which not only can be costly but are controlled by other than African interests. 
The same applies to education. The danger is that what you rely on could be there one minute and gone the next.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Data made meaningful and powerful by cooperation

I read about Google Chrome having 70 million users (not downloads, but users) on the Google Operating System blog. An impressive statistic.
The chart showed the increase over time:
Aside from the starting at 30 millions and thus not being able to see the full axis and thus the scale of it, I thought it showed the statistic well.
However, looking through the comments, I came across this comment from Scrvpvlvs: "Your fine article prompted me to compare the two browsers’ growth rates", dated the same day, under his blog post: "Chrome Heats Up Faster Than Firefox".
And in three charts he makes the data totally meaningful. The original poster quoted some figures from another website and stated that Firefox had five times more users than Chrome - implying that we should see the 70 million in that context.
Scrvpvlvs' charts show that these are indeed impressive figures because it shows the growth of Chrome. first by market share over time:

Then by share growth:

and then projecting one year into the future:

showing Chrome overtaking Firefox.
Thanks Scrvpvlvs for the analysis. It struck me also that it showed the power of collaboration, enriching the analysis of the original statistic.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Virtual Choir - "Lux Aurumque"

Eric Whitacre's "Lux Aurumque" is a wonderful piece (thank you Catherine), composed and conducted for a VIRTUAL CHOIR - this being done from individual Youtube tracks of singers from 12 countries.

Scott Haines

Eric Whitacre

Representing 12 Countries:
New Zealand
The Philippines
United Kingdom
United States of America

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Google CEO's Fireside Chat at Google Atmosphere

A good insight into Google's ways of working as well as their priorities over the next few years was given by Eric Schmidt's Fireside Chat at the CIO event held in London.
Applications are not full replacement for the incumbents - Google's goal is to get to 80% functionality. Google Apps has 2 million enterprise customers!
Schmidt says that what is important now is to get the mobile architecture right. Single most interesting development is the arrival of HTML5. Really important for browser development.
Chrome and Chrome OS with 2 second boot time. Platform at every level.

He was asked for a thumbnail SWOT on Google:
Strength (?)

  • We make lots of mistakes but we admit them.


  • As Google becomes middle aged it is harder and harder to do completely new things.
  • Every government has some group busy trying to figure what we are up to - information is power - disrupting industries.
  • Most large companies have cooperation as well as being competitors with Google.

Schmidt ended with the following pearls:

  • Most important aspect of leadership in the modern age has to do with curiosity - most people "my" age don't ask the fundamental questions. Challenge every single assumption. Employees will respect you if you are on top of the details.
  • Treat employees as if they are intelligent - ask them a question rather than telling them what to do.
  • Collaboration does not mean by consensus - collaboration means that we sit in rooms until the best idea around, everyone agrees on that idea and that is what we do.
  • There are many smart people in your organisation - try to find them and try to encourage them.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Mobile phone size grows into i-Pad

I have often wondered if the choice of SIZE of display of a digital assistant (mobile phone, netbook, laptop, desktop, etc) is determined by whether you are long or short sighted. Seeing friends struggling to read menus or hunting around for their magnifying spectacles to use a small screwdriver reminds me that we all do not see the world in the same way.
Being short sighted means that mobile phone and small screen laptops are easy. Yet, even with this facility, the amount of space, just space, for seeing the "complete picture" is missing. I need to read more than just a few characters of text.
So, this is where the i-Pad will be a hit, I think. A big enough display to see what you need. And coupled with the i-Book you have great possibilities.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Just days to go to the i-Pad launch

With just days to go to the i-Pad launch (Saturday 3rd of April), the usual secrecy surrounds it. Apple Store staff, even managers and Geniuses (Apple know-all fixers), will not see the i-Pad before the public.

How are others seeing it? Interestingly, even the detractors say that they will buy one!
In the Spring edition of iPhone Life, the odds are 2 for and 1 against. Two writers support it wholeheartedly, one does not. Todd Bernhard's list of disappointments are:

  • No camera
  • No multitasking
  • No tethering
  • Limited memory

And yet, he writes, he will buy one.

I agree with the "no multitasking" disappointment - but that is core Apple (Apple core? The bits that stick in your mouth...). Consider i-Tunes, great for many things but only one-slow-task-at-a-time. What is the fundamental flaw that prevents Apple products from multitasking?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Not an i-tablet but an i-Pad

"Our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price".
With these words, Steve Jobs, looking thin, grey and with a weak voice, summed-up the new Apple i-Pad.
And I don't think that he exaggerates. I have to say that after viewing the over-an-hour long presentation, Jobs and his team convinced me. Stephen Fry, much quoted for his i-Pad support since the launch, was in the audience. I can understand how he too could be convinced.
What struck me?
1. First the statistics on i-Phone Apps: both Jobs and his Senior VP for Software, stated 3 billion downloads and over 140,000 apps available. That is huge. Impressive also is the revenue (selling) system that Apple has - i-Tunes - not the most wonderful bit of kit (what is it with Apple and multiple programmes running? They do not seem to be able to get to grips with this) - but one from which you have to buy all the extra bits through. Talk about controlling your revenue stream.... oh! And Apple is a $50 BILLION mobile devices company - number one in the World.
2. Existing i-Phone Apps work on the i-Pad. So a user has 140,000 apps already available.
3. Apps can be tweaked to enhance them for the i-Pad. Impressive. The New York Times app "captured the essence of reading the newspaper, .... providing a finite snapshot in time, exquisite typography, images and content, ... providing a superior reading experience". Using your fingers to interact with the newspaper, flicking through pages, obtaining content lists, double tapping up articles, customising fonts, well, even being able to see moving images in the newspaper page (as Harry might do in the Daily Prophet).
I was impressed by Brushes, an app which has been enhanced and which produces a complete art studio weighing one and a half pounds.
4. i-Book. This is a winner. A fully adjustable Kindle, with five major publishers' content negotiated. Go to the i-Book store, select, download, click on it on your bookshelf, read. It fits nicely into your hand, is thin, clear. The possibility for textbooks is excellent.
5. i-Work. Totally revamped to take advantage of the fingers interacting with the image on the screen. Impressive auto wrap around graphics, specific screens developed so that you can work with Numbers (spreadsheet) in an intuitive way.
6. Games. Well, not so interested in this but using the i-Pad as a steering device, seeing the image right in front of you, and having the accelerometer registering the movement was excellent. I can see why people are excited about this.
7. Battery life. Wait for it. Up to 10 hours. Will it turn out to be so?
8. Price. Here was a real surprise:
16GB for $499, 32GB for $599 and 64GB for $699.
Available? Those above in 60 days. 3G models for $130 more available a month later.
WiFi packages? Up to 250MB data monthly for $14.99 per month; unlimited $29.99. All i-Pad 3G models sold unlocked using GSM micro SIMS. Available internationally June, July.
Add the dock and keyboard accessories and you have a serious work and play machine.
What wonderful opportunities for education.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

What's in a definition? Making sense of one-to-one laptops....

I am reading Pamela Livingston's "1-to-1 Learning, Laptop Programs that Work", published by ISTE (Second Edition).
At first I found the description of a laptop as a Digital Assistant liberating - here was a meta-name for device which could be a laptop, mobile phone, i-Touch, etc. But then, reflecting a bit and looking at the original work on this by Prakash Nair, I found much more to think about.
Nair uses the term Digital Teaching Assistants for 1-to-1 laptops and considers them as being "beyond a tool" - that is, it is not a "passive" tool like a pencil or ruler, but improves its properties as a tool the more you "programme" it.
It is the "teaching" bit that started me thinking. I think a laptop can teach, perhaps, but it probably better to say that the laptop can help students to learn (emphasis on the student learning rather than implying that the laptop, an inanimate object can "teach").
That is, Digital Learning Assistant is a better definition.
I liked Livingston's list of uses that the Digital Assistant can be put to (I have settled on using her term). I list them here, split into groups of uses, so that these can be considered and challenged, if necessary.

  • Writing, reading, studying, learning, researching, organising, making assumptions, solving problems, publishing, presenting, connecting ideas, and creating new understandings.
  • Database for work and files, a sketchpad and planner for projects, a publisher for reports and papers, and a conduit for research that provides access to online resources.
  • Communications facilitator for e-mail, instant messaging and blogging.
  • Calculator and what-if analyser of data and information.
  • Digital processor for  photos and videos.
  • Facilitates children's thinking, analysing, presenting, writing, reading researching, revising, communicating, questioning, proposing, creating, surmising, and publishing.

(I paraphrase a little above - from p2)
What do you think about the list? Anything missing?