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"