Drones might get a bad rap.
When I think back to the first time I heard about them, it was in reference to their use as weapons. The next thing I heard, a drone was selling for under $1,000 on Amazon.com, less than the entire season’s coaching salary I had previously spent on Google Glass. Freaking out, I had my students blog about the implications of consumer drones, thinking their perspectives might help me wrap my mind around this phenomenon. They were underwhelmed, as many young folks tend to be.
My perspective started to shift a few months later, when I heard about how drones could be used for good, such as in the case of Amazon Prime Air. Although still kind of creepy, I was impressed that I could order a package and have it delivered to my doorstep in 30 minutes. At this rate, Amazon would be moving faster than most delivery places.
It wasn’t until I saw my first drone in real life that I really started geeking out. It was April 18, 2015 at the Maryland GAFE Summit, during Adam Bellow’s keynote. Adam was talking about the current state of educational technology, as well as developments in the near future. As I tend to throw myself into professional learning, I usually have a good working knowledge of what’s going on in our field; however, this was new to me.
All of a sudden, I realized that in order to prepare my students, I would need to educate myself on this technology, no matter how uncomfortable drones made me. I strongly believe that the more something scares you, the more you need to learn about it. Best case scenario, you’ll realize that it’s not as bad as you think…worst case, you will at least know what you’re up against.
Adam showed us how easy it was to program his drone with the Tickle app, and made it run through a series of patterns. I downloaded the app immediately, because it also worked with Sphero, which I had purchased and wanted to explore. I decided that one day, I would buy a drone of my own. Time to save up!
Only…drones were a lot cheaper than I thought, as I found out by talking to the members of the EduMatch voxer group. There were even Groupon deals that had them running under $40!
Eventually, I found a drone that was compatible with Tickle, the Parrot Rolling Spider Mini-Drone. I purchased it a couple of weeks ago when all of the summer traveling died down, and I had some time to play. In the meantime, some great conversations came up in the EduMatch group about privacy regarding drones and other technologies, which inspired one of our recent podcast episodes. Through this conversation, I fell in love with this topic, and decided to make it the subject of my upcoming session at the #DigCit Summit.
Finally, the big day arrived, and my drone was delivered. I was a little too overzealous, and launched it in my recording studio, where it nearly tore the room apart. A few days later, I took it outside on the sidewalk. The drone was hard to control, and it kept rolling under cars, but I figure that I’ll get better with more practice. I took it to my patio and tried to fly it there, but it started veering onto my neighbor’s property. I felt uncomfortable in continuing the practice session, fearing they would think that I was spying on them. Next time, I will try in a larger, open area, perhaps at my parents’ house, or the football field at my new school.
I can’t wait to speak with the participants of the Summit on October 3rd in Connecticut, so that we can all explore the concept of privacy in 2015 together, including a discussion on drones. I’m also very excited to use it with my new students, and hear their thoughts. What are yours? Please chime in on the comments section below.