Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Siftables: Hands-On Technology of the Future

Every once in a while, as I explore the Internet for the next great tech tool, I come across something amazing, something that blows my mind, something that is leaps and bounds ahead of everything else. A few days ago, I followed a link from one of the people that I follow on Twitter and discovered Siftables.

What is it?
Siftables are independent, wireless digital blocks that can communicate with each other. David Merrill, an MIT doctoral student and one of the developers of Siftables, was challenged with coming up with a way to make technology more "physical". He believes that people are skilled at using their hands to sift and sort through items to develop higher level thinking skills, but most technology devices don't lend themselves to that type of interaction. Siftables can be manipulated to play videos, spell words, solve math problems, create music, tell stories, and more. Watch this video of David presenting Siftables to a group in California.

The applications for education are obvious. Once Siftables are realeased and are available for purchase (hopefully they'll be affordable for schools!), they will change the way that we teach and the way that our students learn...again. I think that the thing that makes Siftables so unique and desirable is that they add a new layer to technology integration: making it hands-on. There are so many incredible websites and tools out there, but few of them allow users to physically interact (Those that do are incredibally popular--the Nintendo Wii--or expensive). I can't wait to try out Siftables with a group of students!

I know that there isn't really anything that you can take from this post and use with your students right now, but I thought that you might enjoy seeing (what I think is) something awesome.

Start planning would you use Siftables with your students?


1 comment:

  1. COOL! It fits perfectly with the new spelling pilot Words Their Way. It would be great for the kids to be able to build words. :)

    It would also be a great communication tool for kids with autism, who are nonverbal. One of the current methods involves little pictures drawn on cards (PECS-Picture communication exchange system). Wow.