Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cross Post - BeatBot's Keepon Robot: Potential for developing social interaction skills in children

The BeatBots project develops rhythmically intelligent robots for research and entertainment. In the video below, the responsive robot, Keepon, dances to the Spoon song, "Don't You Evah".

Keepon was developed by Hideki Kozima and programmed by Marek Michalowski, from Carnegie Melon.

(The video is available to the public under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license.)

According to an article by David Templeton in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"While the videos have proven Keepon's human appeal, the double-bubble yellow fellow's key role is to interact with children. Keepon has shown promise in encouraging social behavior in children with developmental disorders, including autism."

"Keepon's simple appearance makes children comfortable, and its lifelike movement makes it attractive to them," Mr. Michalowski said. "This combination creates an environment in which social interaction is encouraged.""

"While the robot can dance to almost any song, it also can identify visual and other sensory rhythms, helping to prove how rhythm and synchronization in body language are paramount in human interaction. As such, Keepon has schooled roboticists in how to improve human interaction with robots."

An example of Keepon's attentive and emotive actions:

Another example of Keepon's entertainment value - Spoon's "I turn my camera on":

More videos can be found on the BeatBots website.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cross Post: Microsoft's SenseCam Improves Memory

From the Microsoft Research SenseCam Website:

"SenseCam is a wearable digital camera that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn. Unlike a regular digital camera or a cameraphone, SenseCam does not have a viewfinder or a display that can be used to frame photos. Instead, it is fitted with a wide-angle (fish-eye) lens that maximizes its field-of-view. This ensures that nearly everything in the wearer’s view is captured by the camera, which is important because a regular wearable camera would likely produce many uninteresting images."

Technology Review Article

Images from Microsoft Research:

SenseCam Viewer

The SenseCam application has the potential to be a resource for people who have developmental delays, traumatic brain injury, severe attention deficits, and autism spectrum disorders. It would be a great tool for special educators, occupational and speech/language therapists, and rehabilitation specialists.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Visual Simulations for K-12 Education- Great for interactive displays and white boards.

The Visual Simulations website provides a variety of educational applications designed to work with interactive whiteboards and displays. Most of the activities on the site are free.

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"Pure tones can be visualized with an in-built signal generator. Alternatively you can use the microphone as an input or play a sound file in the background with media player."

"AtomScope is a particle simulation program for teaching at KS3 and KS4. It features a collection of simulations which each reflect a key idea in the science of atoms and molecules."

Digital Media and Education: Quest Atlantis, a 3D Virtual World for Collaborative Education

Students in North Carolina classrooms now have opportunities to participate in learning activities in an on-line 3D world, "Quest Atlantis". The project, developed at the University of Indiana, in partnership with OPEN, was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Education program. Food Lion donated the funds to enable 60 N.C. classrooms to participate in the program, initially selected from eleven IMPACT schools.

From the Quest Atlantis website:

"Quest Atlantis (QA) is a learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-12, in educational tasks. Building on strategies from online role-playing games, QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities (known as Quests), talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae. A Quest is an engaging curricular task designed to be entertaining yet educational.

Each Quest is connected to local academic standards and to our team's commitments. Completing Quests requires that members participate in real-world, socially and academically meaningful activities, such as conducting environmental studies, researching other cultures, calculating frequency distributions, analyzing newspaper articles, interviewing community members, and developing action plans. QA can be integrated into many settings, including classrooms,after-school programs, public libraries, and museums."

If you are interested, read the in-depth article by the creators of Quest Atlantis, Sasha Barab and Craig Jackson, Indiana University.

From Plato's Republic to Quest Atlantis: The role of the philosopher-king
(THEN: Journal, the journal about technology, humanities, education, and narrative)

"In this article, we present a reflective account of our experience in developing a play space for learning that sits at the intersection of education, entertainment, and our social commitments...."

Additional Links:

IU receives $500.000.00 MacArthur grant to enhance student's education: Researchers will expand a video game that helps student engagement and learning


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

XML Education: Free interactive resources for educators

XML Education is a website that offers free resources for teachers that can be adapted for a variety of learning situations. The website was developed by an English in the UK who has an interest in how technology can support teaching and learning. According to information from the website,

"...the resources you will see allow teachers to adapt and update them using an XML file. This file can be opened and edited with Microsoft Word. It is incredibly easy to open a file, type your new data, and then save the new file. These Word files will work with any of the resources and are easy to edit, save and share. Teachers can then share their questions sets with others in the forum."

An example of a resource that works well on an interactive whiteboard or touch-screen display is "Word Magnets"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Adaptive music tools for people with disabilities; link to assistive technology blog

From eSchool News:

"A program developed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) allows students with severe physical disabilities to create music just by moving their heads. A digital video camera tracks the students’ movements on a computer screen and translates them into piano scales or drum beats. The program’s developers hope it will open a whole new world of creativity for physically challenged individuals."

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Brian Friedlander's Assistive Technology blog has a wealth of resources on topics such as
assistive technology, mind mapping, project management, visual learning, collaborative tools, and educational technology. Brian is a school psychologist and assistive technology consultant.

Monday, November 26, 2007

How to use Firefox to access resources offline- copy of post from the Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs Blog

This post is directly from the Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog.

Kate, the superwoman behind the Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog, works in a school that has limited internet access, and the computer lab is non-accessible. This is a description of how she works around this problem:

How to Access Internet Resources Offline

....."I have an excellent work around for when I want my students to access online content. Here are some instruction on how to do it (for free).

1. If you do not already use the Firefox Internet Browser from Mozilla you will need to switch, at least for this, but it is such an excellent browser I am guessing you will want to switch for everything.

2. Install ScrapBook for Firefox. You can do this by going to the ScrapBook Site and download (you will need to add ScrapBook to the list of allowed sites when asked to). Or you can go to the file bar and go to Tools, then choose Add Ons, then in the lower right corner click Get Extensions. This will open a new web page, in the top middle there is a search bar type in ScrapBook. From the results choose ScrapBook by Gomita. Download, install, restart Firefox (don't worry all of your other open tabs will restart automatically).

3. Go to a website you wish to access off line. For example a favorite story in the The International Children's Digital Library. Choose a page to experiment with and go to your tool bar and choose ScrapBook. Now you have a few choices. The first capture option will allow you to access that page off line.

4. There are much more advanced option for using ScrapBook. For example you can capture and entire Tumblebook or other .swf such as Pass the Ball. In an attempt to not recreate the wheel I will point you to some excellent tutorials to learn how to do these things. First there is the ScrapBook Website and second the printable PDF of the ScrapBook tutorial.

5. If you wish to move your scrapbooked items to another computer put them on a flashdrive and open them on another computer with Firefox and ScrapBook. (You may need to put firefox.exe and the ScrapBook files onto a flashdrive and install them onto the intended computer as well.)"

Thank you, Kate!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Technologies: Affective Intelligent Tutoring Systems- Virtual Eve

Imagine a virtual tutor who can recognize when you are confused, frustrated, or simply have no clue about solving a problem or learning a new concept.

In recent years, computer-assisted tutoring systems have been transformed from electronic workbooks to sophisticated applications that harness the power of artificial intelligence in order to provide learning activities that match the specific needs of the individual. These applications, called intelligent tutoring systems, focus on learning objectives that are primarily cognitive in nature, and do not address the reality that learning is a process that occurs within a social, emotional, and motivational context.

Dr. Sarrafzadeh and his research team at Massey University/Auckland Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences, and the University of Canterbury, have been working on the next generation of intelligent tutoring systems, known as affective tutoring systems, use technology to detect emotions, recognize gestures, and interpret and related biological signals from students, in order to individually adapt instruction, via a virtual tutor named Eve.

During the development of this system, researchers used information from observations and videotaped sessions of students and teachers interacting with one-another, in order to model the teaching-learning process in the virtual environment.

Screen shots of Eve, the affective virtual tutor, from the project's website:

Diagram of the system, also from the project's website:

If you are interested in exploring this topic further, here is a sample of articles from the project's list of publications and other listings from the website:

Sarrafzadeh, A., Alexander, S., Dadgostar, F., Fan, C., See Me, Teach Me: Facial Expression and Gesture Recognition for Intelligent Tutoring Systems, International Conference on Innovations in Information Technology, 19-21 November 2006, Dubai, UAE.

Sarrafzadeh, A., Alexander, S., Dadgostar, F., Fan, C., Bigdeli, A., (2007). How do you know that I don't understand?" A look at the future of intelligent tutoring systems. Elsevier Journal- Computers in Human Behavior (in press).

Sarrafzadeh, A., Alexander, S., Dadgostar, F., Fan, C., See Me, Teach Me: Facial Expression and Gesture Recognition for Intelligent Tutoring Systems, International Conference on Innovations in Information Technology, 19-21 November 2006, Dubai, UAE.

Messom, C., Sarrafzadeh, A., Fan, C., Johnson, M., Affective State Estimation from Facial Images using Neural Networks and Fuzzy Logic, to appear in D. Wang (ed.), Neural Networks Applications in Information Technology and Web Engineering, Kota Samarahan, Malaysia: University of Malaysia Sarawak, 2005.

Dadgostar, F., Ryu, H., Sarrafzadeh, A. Overmyer, S. P., Making Sense of Student Use of Nonverbal Cues for Intelligent Tutoring Systems, Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Australian Computer-Human Interaction (OZCHI), 21-25 November 2005, Canberra, Australia.

Related References:

Alexander, S.T.V.: Emulating Human Tutor Empathy, Proceedings of the IIMS Postgraduate Conference, Albany, New Zealand (2004)

Alexander, S.T.V., Hill, S., Sarrafzadeh, A.: How do Human Tutors Adapt to Affective State?, Proceedings of User Modeling, Edinburgh, Scotland (2005)

Beal, C. R., Mitra, S., & Cohen, P. R. (2007). Modeling learning patterns of students with a tutoring system using Hidden Markov Models. In R. Luckin, K. R. Koedinger, & J. Greer (Eds.), Artificial intelligence in education: Building technology rich learning contexts that work, pp. 238-245. Amsterdam: IOS Press.

Abstract: Hidden Markov Models were used to model the actions of high school students who worked with an online tutorial for mathematics. Including a hidden state estimate of learner engagement increased the accuracy and predictive power of the models, within and across tutoring sessions. Groups of students with distinct engagement trajectories were identified and replicated in two independent samples. Finalist for Best Paper Award.

McQuiggan, S.W, & Lester, J.C. Diagnosing Self-Efficacy in Intelligent Tutoring Systems: An Empirical Study.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Games and Learning

Someone recently asked me this question:

"If you look at Sim type games, for example Roller Coaster Tycoon, these are without question games that are filled with lessons and real-world applicable knowledge. Do you think kids go into a game like this knowing they're learning useful skills?"

My response, slightly edited:

I have two young adult daughters, and I'm an aunt - my nieces and nephews ages range from 12 -19. I've watched kids play games for years. From my perspective, the younger kids DO understand that they are learning.

The missing link? Adults who understand what kids are learning, and who also have the means to help mediate this learning in a meaningful way. We don't have many tools to support parents and educators with this task.

That's why I think adults need some brushing up to do. I think all parents and educators need to read a bit of James Gee, Mark Prensky, Henry Jenkins, etc.

Ideally, all games should come with a parent/educator "friendly" set of directions, so that they can understand what the game is about, and also learn how to play it without having to rely so much on the kids.

(This concept is what I call "Guiding the Guider", a concept that applies to a variety of situations, such as the use of technology in the health care fields, including elder care.)

Personally, I'd love it if games came with a "silly adult" mode, sort of like a training mode, but with more information about the deeper structure of the game and the "lessons" that it can teach.

I also think that schools need to spend some time beefing up the curriculum to address the skills students will need in the future, such as multimedia/visual literacy and technology.

Listen to the Natives

James Gee
What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

Henry Jenkins
Eight Myths about Video Games Debunked

Educational Games Research

Monday, November 12, 2007

Classroom 2.0 - Social Networking and Resources for Educators

Classroom 2.0 is a good resource for educators who would like to keep up with the fast pace of technology. If you work with digital natives, you know how difficult it can be to keep one step ahead of the game! Classroom 2.0 provides forums, Wikkis, and resources on a variety of topics and the content is maintained by members of the network, which at the last count was at 3998.

From the Classroom 2.0 website

"The social network for educators using collaborative technologies!"

"Welcome to, the social networking site for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education. We especially hope that those who are "beginners" will find this a supportive community and a comfortable place to start being part of the digital dialog. Feel free to explore!"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A good read, especially if you work with students who have Asperger's syndrome

John Elder Robison's book, Look me in the eye: My life with Asperger's, is an insightful report of "aspergerian" life.

The author is the older brother of Augusten Burroughs, the author of Running with Scissors.

Two other books that provide insight about life on the autism spectrum are Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Version: My Life with Autsim, by Temple Grandin, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, by Mark Haddon

About Literacy: Children of the Code Website, links

I came across this website today and thought I'd share it- if you are familiar with Children of the Code project, please leave a comment, since I haven't yet explored the entire site.

Childrenof is an on-line multi-media resource that is part of a public/social education project to that aims to spread information and education about "The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read it"

The project has four main components:
  1. A three hour Public Television, DVD and Web documentary series;
  2. A ten-hour college, university, and professional development DVD series;
  3. A series of teacher and parent presentations and seminars;
  4. A cross-indexed website/database containing audio, video and transcripts with the world's leading experts in fields related to reading.
The website includes over 100 interviews of people from a wide range of disciplines who are committed to promotion of health, education, and well-being of children, youth, and in turn, communities and society.

Here is the project's abstract:

"Abstract: Our children's cognitive and emotional development, self-esteem, academic, and later social and economic success, all depend on how well they learn - on the health of their learning. Whether we are involved in parenting, teaching, cognitive science, psychology, pedagogy, curriculum design, instructional design, direct instruction, constructivism, assessment, multiple intelligences, learning styles, learning differences, learning disabilities, learning theory, learning communities, organizational learning, preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, home school, unschooling, college, university... we all share the responsibility of stewarding the health of our children's learning."

I'd recommend starting with the on-line video tour of the project:

The following is a quote from an interview with David Boulton, the director of the Children of the Code project:

"The mission of the Children of the Code project is to catalyze and resource a transformation in how our society thinks about the "code" of our written language and the "challenges involved in learning to read it.". I think we're living in the "Stone Age of Literacy." Our lack of understanding of what is involved and what is at stake in acquiring literacy is wreaking havoc on the lives of our population, including children"

"..the first think I hope i that it (the project) changes the mental lens through which parents and teachers see struggling learners. I want them to see someone who is struggling as somebody who is struggling with an artificially confusing technology (written language) and somebody who is in significant emotional and cognitive danger.

"What I hope is that people realize that if children and adults struggle too long with the process of acquiring literacy, it can seriously affect how they develop and grow and learn. Struggling to read causes many, many people to grow up feeling ashamed of their mind.."

Here is a list of direct links to many of the interviews you'll find on the site:

Grover (Russ) Whitehurst
Director, Institute of Education Science, U.S. Department of Education
Mel Levine
Author: A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness & Ready or Not Here Life Comes
Jack Shonkoff

Chair, The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child

James J. Heckman
Nobel Prize Winner in Economic Sciences, Lead Author: The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children
Sally Shaywitz
Neuroscientist, Department of Pediatrics, Yale University, Author: Overcoming Dyslexia
Maryanne Wolf
Director, Center for Reading & Language Research; Professor of Child Development, Tufts University

Nancy Hennessy
President, 2003-2005, International Dyslexia Association
Tim Shanahan
Chair, National Literacy Panel, Member of National Reading Panel (NRP)
Louisa Moats
Reading Scientist, Sopris West - Author: Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling
Reid Lyon
Ex-Branch Chief, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Marilyn Jager Adams
Senior Scientist, Soliloquy Learning, Author: Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print
Edward Kame'enui
Commissioner for Special Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences Director
Keith Stanovich
Chair, Applied Cognitive Science, U. Toronto, Author: Reading Matters: How Reading Engagement Influences Cognition
Todd Risley
Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Alaska, Co-author: Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children
James Wendorf
Executive Director, National Center for Learning Disabilities
Paula Tallal
Board of Governor's Professor of Neuroscience Rutgers University,, Co-Founder, Scientific Learning Corporation
Keith Rayner
Distinguished Professor, University of Massachusetts, Author: Eye Movements in Reading and Information Processing
Rick Lavoie
Learning Disabilities Specialist, Creator: How Difficult Can This Be?: The F.A.T. City Workshop & Last One Picked, First One Picked On: The Social Implications of Learning Disabilities
Richard Allington
Reading Researcher, President, International Reading Association
Richard Venezky
Professor of Educational Studies, Information Sciences & Linguistics, U. Delaware - Author: The Structure of English Orthography & The American Way of Spelling
Sharon Darling
President, National Center for Family Literacy
Kimberly Thompson
Director, Kids Risk Project, Department of Health Policy and Management - Harvard School of Public Health
Robert Sweet
Professional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives - Co-Founder, National Right to Read Foundation
Pat Lindamood & Nanci Bell
Founders of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes
Carol H. Rasco
President, Reading is Fundamental
Chris Doherty
Ex-Director Reading First, U.S. Department of Education
Sandra Feldman
Past-President, American Federation of Teachers
Robert Wedgeworth
President, ProLiteracy
Lesley M. Morrow
Past-President, International Reading Association
George Farkus
Professor of Sociology, Demography, & Education, Penn State
Susan H. Landry
Director, Center for Improving the Readiness of Children for Learning and Education; Chief, Division of Developmental Pediatrics, University of Texas at Houston
Sarah Greene
Executive Director, National Head Start Association
Peter E. Leone
Director, National Center on Education, Disability & Juvenile Justice
Slyvia O. Richardson
Past President, International Dyslexia Association
Jones Kyazze
Director, UNESCO
Martin Haberman
Distinguished Professor, Depart. of Curriculum & Instruction, UWM - Creator, National Teacher Corp
Donald Nathanson
Professor of Psychiatry & Human Emotion, Jefferson Medical Center, Author: Shame and Pride
Terrence Deacon
Cognitive Anthropologist, Berkeley, Author: The Symbolic Species, The Co-Evolution of Language and the Brain
Siegfried Engelmann
Professor of Instructional Research, University of Oregon, Creator of Direct Instruction
Richard Olson
President (2001-2003), Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Professor, Department of Psychology , University of Colorado
Anne Cunningham
Director, Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education, Berkeley
Steve Reder
Chair, Department of Applied Linguistics, Portland State University
Mike Merzenich
Chair of Otolaryngology, Integrative Neurosciences, UCSF, Member National Academy of Sciences
Patrick Groff
Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University, NRRF Board Member & Senior Advisor
Stephen Krashen
Emeritus Professor of Education, University of Southern California
Johanna Drucker
Chair of Media Studies, University of Virginia, Author: The Alphabetic Labyrinth
Thomas Cable
Professor of English, Co-Author: A History of the English Language
John H. Fisher
Medieval Language Historian, Author: The Emergence of Standard English
Naomi Baron
Linguist, Director TESOL, American University, Author: From Alphabet to Email: How Written English Evolved and Where It's Heading
David Abram
Ecologist and Philosopher, Author: The Spell of the Sensuous
Ray Kurzweil
1999 National Medal of Technology, Inventor of OCR & Speech Recognition
Robert Logan
Professor of Physics, University of Toronto, Author: The Alphabet Effect
Malcolm Richardson
Chair, Department of English, Louisiana State University - Researching: The Textual Awakening of the English Middle Classes, 1380-1520
Bruce Thornton
Greek Historian, Fresno State University, Author: How the Greeks Invented Western Civilization
Frank Moore Cross, Jr.
Professor Emeritus of Hebrew & Other Oriental Languages, Harvard
Leonard Shlain
Historian, Author: The Alphabet vs. the Goddess
Doug Engelbart
2000 National Medal of Technology, Computer & Internet Pioneer, Inventor of the 'Mouse'
...and many others...
(see interview list)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cross post:'s Educational Outreach Program: Multimedia Games, Experiments, and Simulated Environments

From the website:

" has a unique way of introducing the Nobel Prize that goes beyond the mere presentation of facts. These introductions, aptly called 'educational', are made in the form of games, experiments, and simulated environments ready to be explored and discovered. The productions are aimed at the young, particularly the 14-18 age groups, who may know about the Nobel Prizes and the Nobel Laureates, but often lack a deeper understanding about the Nobel Prize-awarded works."

"These educational productions do not require previous knowledge. A central thought or issue is explored during 10-20 minutes of activity, using a specific Nobel Prize-awarded work as a springboard for the whole exercise."

"The productions offer an excellent way of using the Internet for homework, or just plain, wholesome entertainment. The high level of interactivity and the sophisticated illustrations ensure an enriching time spent in front of the computer."


I recently came across the website when I was searching for interactive learning games suitable for use on interactive whiteboards or large touch-screen displays.

For those of you who follow my blog, you'll know that I periodically look for engaging visual and multimedia activities that have potential for use in classrooms where Universal Design for Learning is practiced. Visual and multimedia forms of knowledge representation can help to reach a wide range of people, including those who have reading difficulties, language-based learning disabilities, auditory attention and memory deficits, or have autism spectrum disorders (Asperger syndrome, autism, etc.).

If you are an educator who is interested in using games in your classroom, the resources from are a good start, since background information is provided for each game.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Data-Driven Decision-Making and Educational Data Mining

Technology tools are needed in order to support efforts such as Response to Intervention (RTI) that rely on closer monitoring of data regarding student progress. The Winston-Salem school district in North Carolina has implemented a web-based application known as the Teacher's Workbench, funded in part by a Reinventing Education grant from IBM.

According to an abstract by Mark Singley, Richard Boehme, Lei Kuang, Richard Lam, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, USA , "Teacher’s Workbench is a web application whose goal is to improve day-to-day instructional decision making by providing teachers with a finer-grained, more timely understanding of the ever-changing patterns of student proficiency in their classrooms. Teacher’s Workbench takes a three-pronged approach: First, the system provides integrated support for managing standards-based classroom data through the core functionality of a teacher planbook, student profiler, and access to third-party gradebooks. Secondly, the system amplifies the teacher’s ability to analyze and understand student performance by mining the gradebook, planbook, and other school data sources. The system alerts teachers to the existence of critical teaching and learning patterns. Finally, the system helps teachers act on these new understandings by automatically locating and delivering instructional resources in response to the patterns detected."

Business Tools for Better Schools is a website that advocates for improving educational data systems:

"...too often, educators do not know how to use the data system or lack training in how to leverage the information to improve instruction. Although collecting and disseminating better data is essential, knowing how to analyze and apply this information is just as important for improving student achievement. Business leaders, by tapping into their own corporate experiences, can help educators, administrators and policymakers understand how to access and use longitudinal data as part of daily operations and long-term improvement strategies."

In my opinion, school psychologists, given their backgrounds in measurement and data analysis, should be part of the decision-making process when school districts adopt new data systems designed to enhance student progress-monitoring.

If you are a school psychologist or educator who is involved in the use of data-driven decision-making to support Response to Intervention efforts, please leave a comment. What sort of software does your school use? What security and privacy precautions do you have in place to ensure the confidentiality of student information?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Timeline of Teens and Technology: Presentation for School Psychologists

Amanda Lenhart, of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, presented "A Timeline of Teens and Technology " to the Policy & Advocacy in the Schools meeting of a group of school psychologists in August 2007. According to the presentation, the impact and implications are as follows:

  • Those who have grown up with interactive media want to manipulate, remix, and share content.
  • They expect to be in conversation with others about content- access to an audience
  • Increasingly savvy about what they share, particularly on SNS-protecting privacy
  • Social media is always on, and persistent
  • But teens are still teens-the fundamentals of that time of life are still there.
It is important for educators to keep in mind how rapidly things are changing for their students regarding their creative and social use of the Internet and new technologies.

Link to PowerPoint Presentation

Food for Thought: This video about provides a good overview of computer and on-line privacy and security- if you work with students or if you are a parent, you'll find it useful:
"When I go to U. VA". is from UVA's Responsible Computing effort:

Family, Friends & Community Resources (from the Pew Website)

Parent and Teen Internet Use

Teens and Online Stranger Contact


Teens, Privacy and Online Social Networks

Social Networking Websites and Teens

Sunday, October 21, 2007

MegaPost: Resources for All

Since I started blogging, new technologies have made their way into an increasing number of classrooms, and many educators are aware of efforts such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Response to Intervention or Instruction (RTI), as well as innovative technologies that provide engaged, interactive learning experiences for students.

I've consolidated information and updated links and resources from some previous posts from my TechPsych and Interactive Multimedia Technology blogs. Although many of the resources cited in this post relate to K-12 education, some of the information is useful for instructional designers, school administrators, researchers, college/university educators, parents, and technologists who are interested in developing interactive multimedia applications for children and teens.

Take the time to review the "MegaPost" on the Interactive Multimedia Technology Blog!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Engaged Learning? Update

Those who follow my blogs know that I usually focus on the positive- engaging technologies, exciting research, interesting websites, and successes of others worth sharing. Today I came across a video that got me thinking about the importance of engaged learning, a topic I've written about in the past.

(Update- I added a second video that compliments the first.)

Much effort is extended in our high schools to prepare students for the "real" learning that will take place in college. With the increased emphasis on testing, it seems like the moment a child enters kindergarten, one of the main goals is to prepare for learning the skills needed in the following grade. Every student must be "ready".

Ready for....this?

In today's digital world, traditional word-based instruction doesn't always result in experiences that engage the hearts and minds of young people.

The video below was created by students involved in the Digital Ethnography group at Kansas State University. At the beginning of the video, the camera slowly peers around an empty university lecture hall, with the the following quote superimposed over the scene:

"Today's child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules." -Marshall McLuhan, 1967

Although the quote is now forty years old, the message communicated in this video is clear. Despite technology, things haven't really changed, as traditional methods of teaching tend to disengage rather than engage a good number of students.


After viewing the above video, watch this video, "When I grow up I want to be a teacher", a parody of a commercial.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Boston Children's Hospital, The Big Tree: Innovative use of digital media technology to support communication skills

In the Autism Language Program at Boston's Children's hospital, therapists are using visual and multimedia methods of instruction, supported by technology. The program uses observational and two-way observational learning strategies to teach more complex concepts and skills.

Information from the Children's Hospital research and development web page describes research that supports the use of technology with children who have autism spectrum disorders:

"Our clinical observations have revealed that children on the spectrum are interested in all forms of electronic media. We conducted an extensive survey to quantify this observation. We surveyed 90 families of children (age 3-15) with autism from the Midwest and the east coast.

Partial results of the survey:

Children had extensive computer, television and video interest.
Animated characters were more interesting than human figures.
Majority of the children spend more time with media than they do with all other forms of play combined.

These findings are helping us discover ways to use animated characters as therapeutic tools to help children learn language."

The Big Tree is a website that includes information about "Multimedia Advocacy", the "use of multimedia to have a voice". This is especially important for young people who have communication disorders or other disabilities as they transition to adult life.

"Multimedia advocacy is process driven using a camera, video and computer in work with people who have learning disabilities has value as a process of assisted communication in its own right. Taking a person-centred approach so that service users are involved takes time. Multimedia advocacy provides valuable tools that allow those with communication difficulties ownership of their plans and records, rather like having ´an accessible filing cabinet´ that helps to shift the power relationships entailed in supporting people around and getting the focus onto the individual and placing them at the centre."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Karen Janowski's Blog Post: Free Technology Toolkit for UDL (Universal Design for Learning)

I just came by a great blog, "Ed Tech Solutions: Teaching Every Student" authored by Karen Janowski, an assistive technology consultant. Click on the above title link to find her post about a wide range of free technology tools that can support Universal Design For Learning (UDL) and assistive technology efforts. Great job, Karen!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Simulations and Games in Education

According to information from th SimSchool Website, "SimSchool Resources offer articles, research reports, links to human resources and multimedia, and other curriculum enhancements for teacher education. The collection is intended to support the growth of knowledge, skills and abilities needed for performance-based teaching and learning."

The Simulation & Games in Education collection has a wide range of articles by key researchers and practitioners in the field.

SimSchool is a digital library website of the Education Reform Networks, funded by the U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovations Challenge Grant and the U.S. Department of Ediucation PT3 Digital Equity Task Force.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

LucidTouch two-sided touch screen

If you are interested in hand-held or mobile technologies that have potential for use in education, take a look at my post about LucidTouch, a two sided touch screen that is in development through a collaboration between Microsoft, the University of Toronto, and Mitsubishi.

Handheld Learning's link: Map of Future Forces Affecting Education: 2006-2016

It is difficult to keep up with changes that affect the future of education, especially when new technologies are springing up from every direction. For those of you who work in "low tech" educational settings, some of the changes might catch you by surprise. Hopefully some of the resources in this post and the TechPsych blog will help!

Handheld Learning website contains an interesting post about the future forces affecting education, along with a link to the "Map of Future Forces Affecting Education: 2006-2016". This map was created by the Knowledgeworks Foundation, an organization located in Ohio. The KnowledgeWorks Foundation is intersted in redesigning urban high schools in order to increase college access, enhance workforce education, and to create a seamless education system. They support the effective use of technology in the schools.

Handheld Learning, a group located in the UK, "promotes the use of mobile and ubiquitous technologies to enable transformational improvements in teaching and learning". They support the use of open standards and are committed to universal accessibility.

Handheld Learning was involved in the development of a recent video on Teachers.TV that provides an overview of the use of mobile devices by young people, including a discussion of the use of mobile devices for learning.

If you are interested in learning more about new technologies related to education, psychology, or special education, subscribe this blog. From the TechPsych blog, you can link to the Interactive Multimedia Technology or Technology-Supported Human-World Interaction. blogs.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Revisiting hand-held devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, and Education?

PDA's have been used in K-12 classrooms for several years, and as a result, resources for teachers such as hi-Ce (Center for Highly Interactive Classrooms, Curricula & Computing in Education), Palm for Education, and K12 Handhelds have become more available.

Some educators are thinking ahead of the crowd and brainstorming ways that Apple's iPhone could be used in educational settings, as it supports Web 2.0 applications. It it has an easy-to use multi-touch interface, and can access the Internet through a WiFi connection.

For more information, take some time to read the following articles:

"Educators assess iPhones for instruction" (Meris Stansbury, eSchool News)
"iPhone - 3 Features That Will Impact Education" (Jeff VanDrimmelen, EduTechie)

Now that the price has come down, iPhones, or the latest iPod "Touch" might be worth considering!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Browse The World Is My Interface Blog

"The World Is My Interface is about the development of newer technologies that support human-world interaction. This concept incorporates the best of of HCI, CSCW, universal usability, interaction design, game design, educational technology, and Ubicomp/ Pervasive Computing. The definition of "World", can include virtual worlds, simulations, VR, or augmented reality - just about anything humans interact with in their daily lives."

Friday, August 10, 2007

About Assisted Technology and ACC: Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog

The Teaching Students with Multiple Special Needs blog is a great resource for educators, therapists, and parents!

The blog has numerous useful links, nicely organized in the side-bar. You'll find pictures and videoclips that illustrate many of the blog's topics.

The companion website has loads of great information.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

About Wireless Handheld Devices in Education: Create-a-Scape and mscape

As I've mentioned before, the UK is often on the cutting edge of educational technology. Futurelab's "Create-A-Scape", an educational modification of Hewlett-Packard's mediascape software, gives students and teachers plenty of opportunities to explore the environment and be creative.

By the way, Create-A-Scape won the 2007 New Statesman New Media Award for Education.

If you haven't yet heard of this innovation, now is the time to learn, especially if you would like to create engaging educational experiences for your students. Integrating new technologies and applications takes time and thought, and the researchers, educational technologists, and educators at Futurelab have taken care of most of the groundwork.

What is a mediascape or mscape?

According to Futurelab's Create-a-Scape website, "A mediascape is composed of sounds, images and video placed outside in your local area. To see the images and video, and hear the sounds you need a handheld computer (PDA) and a pair of headphones. An optional GPS unit can automatically trigger the images, video and sounds in the right places."

"To create a mediascape, you start with a digital map of your local area. Using special, free software, you can attach digital sounds, pictures and video to places that you choose on the map (see below)."

"By going outside into the area the map covers, you can experience the mediascape. Using the handheld computer and headphones, you can hear the sounds and see the pictures and video in the places the author of the mediascape has put them. All sorts of exciting things can happen as you explore the mediascape."

Here is HP's promotional definition of a mediascape, a context-based application:

"Mediascapes are mobile, location-based experiences that incorporate digital media with the sights, sounds, and textures of the world around you. A mediascape blends digital images, video, audio and interactions with the physical landscape. Games, guided walks, tours, and destinations are among the mediascapes created to date. Download a mediascape onto a portable device, and see how your landscape comes alive as you move through the environment."

The mscapers website, a place where "mscapers" create and share mediascapes, offers free software. The wesbsite offers tutorials and demos. You'll need a Windows Mobile device with GPS to get started.

Here is a video clip from HP that shows people out and about engaged in mscaping:

If you are an educator who has used "Create-A-Scape", or if you are an mscaper, feel free to post your comments about your experiences.

On-line switch accessible games for children on the BBC website!

If you are a parent or teacher of a disabled child, here is some good news. The BBC reconfigured many on-line educational games for use with switches, which can be found on the CBeebies website.

The games can be easily adjusted to meet the needs of the user.

Here is a list I copied from the website that has links to all of the accessible games on the BBC's website:

  • Roly Mo, Snag a Snoot (single switch)
  • Teletubbies, Let's Count (single switch)
  • Teletubbies, Peek-a-boo(single switch)
  • Tots TV, Counting Song
  • (This works automatically with single switch).
  • Boogie Beebies: What am I? (single or double switch)
  • Razzledazzle: Chit Chat Chest (single or double switch)
  • Something Special: Old Macdonald's Farm (single or double switch)
  • Something Special: Transport Snap (single switch)
  • Tikkabilla: Emotion Theatre (single or double switch)
  • Tweenies: Startastic Captain Jake: (single or double switch)
  • Tweenies: Hide and Hear, the Adventures of Debbie Duck (single or double switch)
  • Tweenies: Make Music with Max (double switch)

  • "These games have not been as heavily modified, but they work with the keyboard as well as the mouse, which means they will also work with switches:"
  • Tweenies: The Enchanted Toyshop The 'next' button works with the spacebar.
  • Autumnwatch: Tigs' Quiz. This game works with the spacebar and return key.
  • Autumnwatch: Giggleswick Game This game works with the spacebar
  • Mama Mirabelle, Photo Match Game This game works with the spacebar
  • Jackanory: Rhyme Maker This game works with the spacebar. It is also strongly audio-driven, so should be good for children who cannot see.
  • Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Ball State Research: Wireless Handheld Devices (WHD) May Help Reluctant Readers

    It is often difficult for parents and teachers to engage reluctant readers in reading. Hand-held devices, such as PDA's and eBooks may have the potential for interesting these students. According to an article by Laura Devaney, the associate editor of eSchool News, a Ball State study found that wireless handheld devices were motivating for reluctant readers, used at home and at school.
    Link from the eSchool News article:
    Bellaver's blog

    Related links:
    The Paperless Classroom
    "101 great educational uses for your handheld computer" from K12handhelds.
    THE Journal article: Assessment Testing>>In Their Hands
    Wireless Generation website: "Formative assessment, reporting, and intervention solutions for a data-driven school system"

    If you are using eBooks or PDA's in your school or classroom, or if you use hand-held technology to support reading interventions and/or assessments, please let me know.

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    TechPsych ResourceLinks: World Almanac of Educational Technology Wiki

    The World Almanac of Educational Technologies is a new wiki where people interested and involved in educational and instructional technologies around the world can share information and resources.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    e-School News Online: Current site of the week features the Microscope Imaging Station from the Exploratorium

    One of my favorite sites is eSchool News Online. The Site of the Week is the Microscope Imaging Station, from the Exploratorium science museum's website. This is a site that I'd recommend viewing on a large-screen display or interactive whiteboard.

    According to the Exploratorium website, the "Microcope Imaging Station produces high-resolution images and movies using research-grade microscopes. This gallery contains a range of images and movies that illustrate the diversity of what can be seen with light microscopes"

    The link to eSchool News has links to past sites of the week.

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Blog post about visual learning technology

    Take a look at my Interactive Multimedia Technology blog post about the University of Nottingham's Visual Learning Lab and information about a debate hosted by UK's FutureLab about the merits of the use of interactive whiteboards in primary and secondary classrooms.

    Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Interactive whiteboards increase student attention, engagement, participation, and test scores!

    More about interactive displays....

    According to a press release from Smart Technologies, a study conducted in the UK and Europe during the years 2002-2006 found positive results regarding the use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom:

    "The following outcomes were among its key findings: interactive whiteboard use results in improved student performance in national tests in English, math and science, compared to student performance without interactive whiteboards; digital content on interactive whiteboards is engaging, motivating, and students pay more attention during lessons; and interactive whiteboard use encourages greater student participation in the classroom."

    There are several types of interactive large-screen displays available for use in educational settings, and there are several companies working on large touch-screen displays that could be adapted for use in schools, media centers, and public libraries.

    (I prefer large-screen displays/interactive boards that do not rely on an external projector)


    Link to PDF of full report: "The ICT Impact Report: A Review of Studies of ICT Impact on Schools in Europe" (Anja Balanskat, Roger Blamire, Stella Kefala, European Schoolnet.)
    Resource and Research List, "Interactive Whiteboards", from the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF)
    Education World article "Speaking of Electronic Whiteboards?"

    Large Display Research Overview from Microsoft Research (PDF)

    The following is a partial list of companies that make or sell interactive displays and/or whiteboards:


    For Teachers:

    Lessons and Links for Interactive Whiteboard Classroom Activities

    Online interactive whiteboard activities for primary classrooms (from Topmarks Education, UK)

    SmartTechnologies lesson activities for the SmartBoard

    National Gallery of Art Kids

    PBS Kids

    National Geographic Kids

    NASA Kids

    Discovery Kids

    Music Tech Teacher (Includes online games and music learning activities)

    Flash Music Games

    (some games cam be downloaded)

    I'll be posting more links on the Interactive Multimedia Technology website soon.

    Saturday, July 28, 2007

    Take a look at HP's TouchSmart PC

    Photo from HP TouchSmart Website

    More information, including a video clip, can be found on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog. ExploreLearning's Gizmos would work well on this system!

    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    ExploreLearning Gizmos, Interactive Displays, Revisited

    ExploreLearning recently earned a 2007 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers for Best Science Instruction Website. ExploreLearning offers interactive math and science activities, known as "Gizmos", for students in grades 6-12.

    I used some of the sample activities with a few struggling high school students two years ago, using an interactive whiteboard. The students were engaged and seemed to grasp concepts quickly.

    Take the time to look at the information on ExploreLearning's blog, including the testimonial section. You can subscribe for a free 30-day trial for use in the classroom or at home. The teacher support materials, in my opinion, are excellent. Each math and science activity aligns with state curriculum guidelines, available on the site.

    With new interactive touch-screen technologies, such as the iPhone, the NextWindow Human Touch interactive large-screen display, newer-edition interactive SmartBoards, and Microsoft's Surface, imagine the possibilities for students- once the price of interactive devices and hardware comes down to an affordable level.

    I bet most students would not object to playing with science and math Gizmos via a web-browser on their iPhones!


    ExploreLearning's award press release.

    Why Gizmos Work

    The home page of theSmartBoard 2007 Blog, hosted by M.Gavel, a 6th grade teacher, has a list of links to on-line interactive learning websites that work well on the SmartBoard(and other interactive large-screen displays), such as StarFall, an engaging early literacy site.


    Please leave me a comment if you know if there is any research about the effectiveness of ExploreLearning. Judging from the testimonials, this would be a great research topic for psychology, education, or educational technology graduate students!

    Photo courtesy of ExploreLearning.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2007

    Virtual reality field trips created by psychologists

    (businessweek photo)

    Over the years, school districts have cut back on field trips, limiting exposure to learning environments outside of the school door. To counter this trend, Psychologist Alicia Sanchez and Janis Cannon-Bowers were members of team at the University of Central Florida that developed virtual reality field trips to provide students with opportunities to explore environments, with the goal of supporting reading and vocabulary development.

    According to an article that appeared in Science Daily, the researchers planned to make the field trips available on the web in the future. The article was written in 2005. If you know about this, please leave a comment.


    If you are looking for interesting video clips about psychology and related topics, take a look at Science Daily's "Mind and Brain" web page.

    The BusinessWeek website has a slide-show with related articles about innovative classroom technologies, included the Virtual Field Trip.