Week 7 future-technology

On the Horizon: Emerging Technologies

Future technology is one of my favorite topics, although it is hard to find time to keep up on everything that is currently out there, let alone all of the technology that is predicted to come. So I was glad to be able to view the resources in this class that discussed the most current technology as well as what may be coming. I have seen technology change a lot in my lifetime. In my job as an Air Force navigator I started out navigating across the world using manual methods such as mental and written calculations based on ground speed, heading, wind, and a few other variables. I backed this up using a sextant, from which I took readings from the sun, moon, and stars to help refine my position. Needless to say, this was extremely challenging. I was so happy in the mid 1990s when my squadron purchased crude hand-held Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) units that I could check out for a flight. They were not very fancy, but at least gave me a basic latitude and longitude that I could use to back up my other calculations. Nowadays in the planes I navigate, we have multiple GPS feeds, combined with an Inertial Navigation System (INS) to navigate with. We also have technology to communicate with Air Traffic controllers via a datalink, communicate back to our squadron, and allow our leadership (or anybody with the username and password) to track our aircraft position anywhere in the world. Technology has definitely changed in the 25 years since I joined, and it’s hard for me to imagine where it will be 25 years from now.

As a leader in the Air Force this has huge implications. When I used to navigate using manual methods, virtually all navigators knew the ins and outs of navigation and could easily adapt during equipment malfunctions. Today, there is so much reliance on technology that navigators can easily tend to become nothing more than button pushers without knowing what is happening behind the scenes. As a matter of fact, the Air Force renamed navigators to Combat Systems Officers (CSOs), which more reflects that they operate systems instead of truly navigate. The problem surfaces when equipment fails, which it periodically does. The airplanes I fly in were built from 1957-1963, so they are old. Even though a lot of the equipment has been updated, there are still many old aspects to it, which can cause technology to fail when we need it. If leaders don’t ensure that new CSOs understand and practice “old school” navigation methods, they may find themselves in a dangerous situation when equipment fails and they don’t know how to recover.

As a leader in the college classroom, I also have seen many things change due to technology. When I started teaching 15 years ago, no students brought laptops or tablets to class. The iPhone was still seven years from being introduced. Nowadays almost every student has some type of smartphone and many bring laptops or tablets, hopefully to take notes and not play games during class. Teaching methods have also changed. Many textbooks have an instructor companion site that gives good instructional ideas, PowerPoint presentations, videos, or other items that can be used in class. In most classes that I teach there is also an electronic/online classroom to supplement the brick and mortar classroom. The online classroom is a great repository for PowerPoint presentations, documents, and much more. This lessens the amount of physical paperwork I have to deal with and keep track of as an instructor. In a computer class that I teach, I have software on the instructor PC that allows me to view any of the student PCs in the classroom, if needed. If a student is having a problem on a particular assignment, with a simple keystroke I can take a look from my desk. I don’t use this method, as I prefer to walk over to the student and have some interaction. But the technology also allows me to bring up any student or the instructor’s PC onto the projector screen. This is handy when I have a teaching moment that I want to show to the entire class. In this particular course (ILD 831 – Technology and Leadership) I learned about a lot of technology that I either didn’t know existed, or had never used. I was amazed at how many things that are out there that I could potentially integrate into the learning environment. I look forward to trying some of these tools out. I am also anxious to see how technology in the classroom changes even further in the coming years.

The Internet Trends slideshow really amazed me, even though I feel like I stay up on technology more than the average person. Cell phone penetration changed from 1% of the population in 1995 to 73% of the population in 2014. This doesn’t even account for the increased capability of the cell phones in 2014 compared to those in 1995. Looking at the slide showing how technology has changed from 1975 to the late 1990s and comparing that to how much it’s changed from the late 1990s until today was also astounding. That slide really shows how frantic the technological pace has become. The amount of Internet capacity that is taken up by video is something that I tell students in all of my classes, as I think it is an interesting fact that many do not know. It shows them the heavy load that is being carried across the Internet. The slide show mentioned that 64% of Internet traffic was from video. I personally wonder if too many more people get Netflix, Amazon streaming, Vudu, or other subscriptions, how much the Internet can take without causing a slowdown. I was also interested to see how Internet usage differs around the world, especially in China and India. China’s citizens are using technology, mainly smartphones, to pay their utility bills, apply for passports, look up their driving violations, book hospital appointments, and order food online. This technology is happening in the United States, but has been a lot slower to catch on. From a leadership perspective, in many cases we are going to be forced into having to allow our workers to have access to this type of technology throughout the day.

Kevin Kelly brought up a lot of interesting points in his video. One that really caught my attention was where he discussed the fact that many/most of these devices now have eyes, in the form of a camera. He discusses that not only are we looking into these devices, but they are also looking back at us. There is technology that can track our eyes, for example. He showed an example of a heat map that shows where on a particular page the most attention is being given by our eyes. From that, the website can adapt to how we are using it. It can also potentially recognize our mood and whether or not we’re paying attention. It is much like looking through a two-way mirror except that the software can adapt from our actions. This may be scary to some, but at the same time should hold much promise for future technology. I can see how this could be used to target ads or important information that the content provider wants us to see, by putting it in the areas of the page that our eyes are looking at more often. I’ve already seen how online ads have changed over the past few years. In situations where the user is able to skip an ad after a certain period of time (normally a small number of seconds), the advertisers have become more creative and in that short amount of seconds they try to hook us in so we don’t skip the ad. As a comparison, television ads from years ago didn’t necessarily need to catch our attention that quickly since we had no way to fast forward through them or skip them. As technology changes, advertisers will have to continue to adapt. Leaders should take this as a lesson that we should now continually be adapting in our leadership style and methods to account for changing technology. What works and is in vogue today may not necessarily be effective 5, 10, or 20 years from now.


9 thoughts on “ILD 831 WEEK 7 POST – RAY R.

  1. I must admit that this is my favorite week of ILD 831. I too used a sextant…from the bridge of a destroyer. Yet, when I was national coordinator for navigation instruction at Navy ROTC’s, I pushed through a change (the first in 2 decades) to allow programmable calculators – simply plug in your star angles and let the calculator do the heavy lifting. About the same time, GPS was just coming out on all ships. In my short 22 year career, how navigation was done radically changed…altering methods that had been established in the days of sail.

    In some ways, that is symbolic of what is happening in all sectors now due to the digital web – but as you note, at a speed more rapid than what I experienced. Makes you dizzy…but fun to experience!


  2. Ray,
    Really enjoyed your analysis and discussion on technology this week. Moreover, your conversation on your personal account including novel tech devices for teaching was very interesting. Although, I was never a teacher, I have served as both an instructor and trainer for many years and agree with your description of evolving technology. However, I was surprised by a previous article featuring, Clay Shirkey, citing the banning of technology in his classroom (i.e., cell phones, tablets, and laptops). In which, he admits that his thoughts on classroom tech was rather liberal in the beginning of his teaching career, but began noticing the eventual distraction caused by technology (i.e., social media). Clearly, a surprising contrast from his stance on technology and social media.


      1. Dr. Watwood,
        Thanks for the article. It seems that I spoke out of haste. Shirky’s basis for his refusal of tech devices in the classroom is both logical and reasonable. Thus, he proved the distractive nature of social media, as well as the power of fragmented thought (i.e., multitasking). Overall, the article was very enlightening, while offering solid evidence for his rationale.


  3. Ray,

    Your views on technology in the classroom resonated with me more due to my position as a leader. Education is always going to be a part of everyone’s lives. What makes this more interesting is the tools that educators posses to help them bring their lesson plan to life. Watching Corning’s videos were intriguing because most of the items in the feature are similar to what we have in the world today. Looking at the smiles on the students faces when their instructor allowed them to use the tool that made colors. I dream of the day where students can have this same reaction to their daily visits to school. More students deserve an opportunity to learn in a manner that everyone can understand and embrace. The learning environment is an arena that must be fit and designed to assist all students. Keeping technology in the classroom can help spread the need for learning. Thanks.



  4. Ray,
    I enjoyed your post really interesting about the technologies to fly and the fact that many of the aircraft’s that you referred to were so outdated. In addition, you brought up the fact that at times it seems like you are just managing the system and the plane is really flying itself. However, then you did not help my uneasiness with flying when you mentioned that when a problem arises or they are in a dangerous situation, they don’t always know how to recover. I am hoping this does not apply to passenger jets today……..I really do not like to fly, I think it is the fact that I like to be in control:(

    I to spent many years teaching online in grades 6th-12th, I enjoyed the freedom and the use of various modes of technology, yet, I did miss the face-to-face (FTF). Just recently completing my defense a few weeks ago on “online learning at the secondary level,” I did a good deal of research of online learning in higher education, due to the fact that most literature is at this level. What really struck me was the divide in the perceptions of online learning between administration and faculty. The Babson Research group surveyed administration and up to 80% were excited about online learning and felt it really had a place on their campus, as compared, to 38% of faculty that were much more leery of the effectiveness of online learning. The study also noted that many faculty members were not comfortable with the technology and did not like having to rewrite curriculum to suit a online course. I liked teaching online for selfish reasons, however, I am back in a classroom and just feel there is a more global understanding of where a student is when you have them FTF and feel the relationship building is more comprehensive in the FTF environment.

    Last but not least, I really liked the Corning presentation on the use of glass. As an educator on part 2 of the presentation, I thought the two following modes would be ideal and engaging for both student and teacher…Really would take learning to the next level. I could not paste the pictures but the flexible display glass, about the size of a desktop calendar with the capabilities of a laptop with greater size and maneuverability. In addition, when the teacher was teaching her class she had a huge theater type screen and a prezi type presentation controlled with touch capabililites, like an ipad. To me these new technologies are not intimidating, but I think will be exciting new tools. Great job!

    Chris Brown


    1. Chris,
      I guess I should’ve been more clear. The navigation skills I’m talking about deal more with a military environment, especially one in hostile airspace, for example. Passenger jets travel point-to-point and have a multitude of methods of navigation and are almost always under the control of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), so there is minimal risk of getting lost. Military planes, however, are sometimes not under control of ATC and are often flying in airspace that does not have predefined “navigational aids.” So the navigator and/or pilots need to ensure they know where they are going and should be prepared to navigate if they have any equipment malfunctions.
      In a civilian airliner, traveling along a predefined airway, they could lose their Inertial Navigation System (INS) and their Global Positioning System (GPS) and still have other methods to get where they need to go, including asking ATC to guide them.


  5. Ray,
    Thank you for making the point that we still need to teach low tech, even when we have technology that can do so much of it for us. Some would argue that there is no reason to learn math, when all you need to do is learn how to use a calculator (or even just how to ask Siri to calculate something!). Your navigation example really illustrates the importance of this concept.

    I also appreciate your point about continually upgrading the technology of the aircraft in the Air Force. When I watched the Corning videos, one of my initial thoughts was the amount of waste created by having so many screens. If we upgrade other screens like we upgrade our phones every two years, we will be creating tremendous waste. This may be a case where we should look to the federal government as an example. Rather than replacing all of these screens, perhaps some form of retrofitting will become a whole new industry. Or perhaps one day we will be happy enough with the hardware for more than two years. Ha – who am I kidding?



  6. Nice work Ray. Your experience with the Air Force is a great example of innovative technology continually finding a way to manifest itself. The military is amazingly progressive in terms of leading the way in the incorporation of the most advanced technology of the day.

    I am curious how your experience in the Air Force and your exposure to innovation has impacted your leadership today. In what ways are you working to incorporate the same innovative spirit in your current role?


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