Tuesday, March 31, 2009

From the move + play + learn blog: iPod Touch in the Elementary Classroom


I recently came across the move + play + learn blog, maintained by Dr. Michael A. Evans, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, and graduate students in the instructional design and technology program. A recent post on the blog discussed how 40 iPod Touch devices were "air dropped" to an elementary school for a math and language art teacher to use with their students. The above picture shows how the teachers used their creativity to establish a space to store the iPods when not in use. He'll be posting more about the iPod Touch airdrop in the future.

Dr. Evans supports the use of games in educational settings and posted the following interview with Dr. James Paul Gee about ways videogames can be used for learning and ongoing assessment.

"Grading with Games: An Interview with James Paul Gee"

Dr. Gee is the author of What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2003, Second Edition 2007), and Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Establishing Joint Attention with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders using the HP TouchSmart PC and NUI Suite Snowflake Software

I've been using my HP TouchSmart PC at work with students with disabilities. I'm experimenting with the NUI Suite SnowFlake on my TouchSmart.

The software utilizes a plug-in from NextWindow that allows for more than one touch on the screen at a time. I found that interacting with the Particles application delighted
students with severe autism.


I found that many of the activities included in the Snowlake software provided opportunities for the students to establish joint attention. I also noticed an increase in the number of vocalizations and/or verbalizations among the students. Of course, this was NOT a scientific study.

NUI Suite Snowflake Multi-Touch Applications (Demonstrated on a touch-table, but the effect is similar on the HP TouchSmart.)

Note: The Particle application starts at 3:00 - the demo is set to show how it could be used as a social activity in a bar, but it is clear to see the possibilities for use with students.

Update: Here is the SnowFlake application running on a TouchSmart:

More about the HP TouchSmart PC in education:
Interacting and Communicating with HP TouchSmart Notes: Photos, Video, Audio, and More

Joint Attention:

Definition of Joint Attention from UConn:
"Joint Attention is the process of sharing one’s experience of observing an object or event, by following gaze or pointing gestures. It is critical for social development, language acquisition, cognitive development…"


Establishing joint attention is an important step in the development of social interaction skills among young people who have autism spectrum disorders.

Joint Attention Study Has Implication for Understanding Autism Science Daily, 9/29/07
Asperger-Advice: Joint Attention
Autism Games: Joint Attention and Reciprocity
Why is joint attention a pivotal skill in autism?
Tony Charman
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 February 28; 358(1430): 315–324.
doi: 10.1098/rstb.2002.1199.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Children and Teens: The Challenge Software Program

Brad Chapin is a psychologist and director of community based services for a mental health center.

Brad developed the subscription-based online Challenge Software Program to teach children and teens how to problem-solve and moderate their thinking processes. Students who have significant mental health problems do not always have the coping strategies they need to prevent things from becoming extremely out of hand, as in the case of violent fights, school shootings, or suicide.

Links to information, including video tutorials, about Challenge Software:
What it does
How it works (This is important to view, as it describes the assessment process, the scenarios, and the games.)
Pricing and Features
Supporting Research

News and Events

The program provides a scenario approach to assessing the child or teen's problem solving skills and coping strategies, using video scenarios and an easy-to-use assessment interface.

Brad maintains a blog that complements the Challenge Software Program. Here are links to a couple of his posts:

Teaching Cognitive-Behavioral Strategies to Small Groups of Children

School Violence and Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention

Brad Chapin is a member of Classroom 2.0, the social network for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cross-Post: Henry Jenkins, Games and Learning, Media Literacy & Quest to Learn School in NYC

Henry Jenkins will be moving from MIT to USC Annenburg School of Communication and the Cinematic Arts School. He'll be teaching courses such as "Transmedia Storytelling" and "New Media Literacies".

"...there is a learning ecology now, one that takes place outside of the classroom in the after school world...and right now, schools are cutting themselves out of the learning ecology by blocking games, by blocking YouTube, by putting filters on the computers. They block off ways the students are technologically connected, from the best ways of learning..and they leave those students who are trapped behind the participation gap from having access to the experiences that prepare the technically literate for the future."

"..Good teachers are fighting a valiant battle just to be able to access the materials of YouTube .. the other day we discovered that students could not access online resources about Moby Dick, the great American novel, because it had the word "Dick" in it."

My high school blocks websites about games. TeacherTube is blocked, too!

In the above video, a school that integrates the use of games within the curriculum is mentioned. The school is Quest to Learn, scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year. It is known as "New York's school for today's digital kids".


"Quest supports a dynamic curriculum that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students. Games and other forms of digital media also model the complexity and promise of “systems.” Understanding and accounting for this complexity is a fundamental literacy of the 21st century."

Institute of Play (A partner of the Quest to Learn school)
Quest to Learn Press Links

A Win-Win Scenario: "Game School" Aims to Engage and Educate
Eliza Strickland, Wired 8/6/07

Sunday, March 08, 2009

AccessApps: Open-Source Assistive Technology from RSC

From the AccessApps Webpage:

"AccessApps is an initiative developed by the Scottish JISC Regional Support Centres in cooperation with JISC TechDis. It consists of over 50 open source and freeware assistive technology applications which can be entirely used from a USB stick on a Windows computer (here is a full list of applications on offer)."

"AccessApps will run without needing to install anything on a computer and provide a range of e-learning solutions to support writing, reading and planning as well as visual and mobility difficulties."

AccessApps has a good help page that includes "how-to" information in video format, a step-by-step guide that you can download, and a FAQ page. Categories of applications include a free installable screenreader, games, utilities, presentation tools, multimedia tools, keyboard/mouse alternatives, visual support, reading and writing support, planning and organization, productivity software, and guides.

AccessApps won an award from the Scottish Open Source Award 2008.There is more information about the various applications on the AccessApps download page.