Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dropout Data and Links from Edutopia, Graphics from Xplane

image from XPLANE the visual thinking company

According to an article from Edutopia, "the 1.2 million students who should have graduated with the class of '07 will cost the nation $329 billion in lost income over the course of their lifetimes. About two-thirds of all prisoners are high school dropouts."

Here is a link to another article from Edutopia:

Last Chance High: An Urban School District Success

Related Resources:

National Dropout Prevention Center/Network

National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition

If you are working in a school or program that has demonstrated success with at-risk teens, share your story and related data! This will be useful to school-based problem-solving teams that are adapting RTI - Response to Intervention- to meet the needs of struggling students at the high school level.

Note: XPLANE created the 2.0 version of "Shift Happens", the remake of a presentation about the impact of new technologies on our youth - and the world- for teachers at Arapahoe High School in Centennial. Colorado. More information can be found on the Fischbowl Blog.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Technology Review: "Bill Gates says Microsoft is pushing touchscreen and speech technology to replace keyboards"

"Bill Gates says Microsoft is pushing touchscreen and speech technology to replace keyboards" is the headline from an article in the 2/22/08 MIT Technology Review.

Imagine what this will do to pave the way for Universal Design for Learning!

Some form of keyboard-related input will be needed until speech, gesture, haptic, and motion tracking technology is refined a bit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mind Habits update: Post on Interactive Multimedia Blog

MindHabits is a company that offers games to help with anxiety, stress, and build confidence. The games are evidence-based and fun to play. The games would be appropriate for teens, and of course, adults.

I've posted more information on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.

Related Links:

MindHabit's website
Online Demo of MindHabits Games

Google Lab's Search for the Visually Impaired

Just a brief post:

Google Labs' search feature for people with visual impairments is a good idea. It has been around since 2006. The search results are displayed to ensure that the top results are websites that work with screen readers and keyboard navigation.

Overview of Accessible Solutions from Google

Google Lab's Accessible Search FAQ

Google Lab's Accessible Users Group

Friday, February 22, 2008

Virtual Tutors: Link to article about Justine Cassell's work with children with autism spectrum disorders

Justine Cassell, director of the Center for Technology and Social Behavior of Northwestern University, is the developer of the "Embodied Conversational Agent", a virtual human designed to interact children with autism. Her work was highlighted in a recent article in the technology & science section of the MSNBC website:

Image: Virtual child
The ArticuLab, Northwestern Univ
"A “virtual child” is a cartoon about the size of an 8-year-old with whom kids can learn
and play on the floor with toys via a plasma screen projection."

"Virtual characters and digital tutors are helping children and adults develop advanced social and language skills that can be tough to learn via conventional approaches"

Related Links:
Eve: An Understanding Virtual Teacher

Accessible Learning through Entertainment and Recreation Tools Alert: Resources for free or low cost games and applications

The people at Simply Entertainment/ 7-128 Software, make "mainstream, family-friendly, computer games that are designed from the ground up to be accessible to gamers with a variety of special needs, including: blindness, low vision, color blindness, deafness, and motion impairment".

They recently added a free on-line service for people searching for free or low-cost accessible computer games suitable for learning or rehabilitative environments.

According to the website, the Accessible Learning through Entertainment and Recreation service provides the following useful information:

  • Where to get those games, at low cost, or for free
  • What to look for in selecting those games, quickly and with fewer costly mistakes
  • How to apply those games to your learning objectives, without a lot of mystery
  • Who to go to for free help
"This information will be updated over the course of 2008, especially the growing series of How To articles."

Another resource on the Simply Entertainment/1-129 Software website is a section dedicated to links to 25 highest-rated websites that focus on games that are accessible for people who are blind. Many of the linked websites offer free on-line games.

Thanks to John Bannick and his colleagues at 7-128!

Monday, February 18, 2008

School Psychology and Special Education Researchers: Educational Data Mining Conference

In keeping with my recent theme about data, I thought I'd post a copy of a call for papers for an interdisciplinary conference on topic of educational data mining, which will be held in UQÀM - Université du Québec à Montréal, Montreal, QC, Canada, immediately following the International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems.

University researchers fields such as school psychology, education, special education, and related disciplines might have some important insights to share at this conference. Practitioners and graduate interns might also have something important to contribute to this new are of study. The topics that I think are most relevant to RTI and broader K-12 school improvement efforts are highlighted below in green.

Call For Papers

The First International Conference on Educational Data Mining brings together researchers from computer science, education, psychology, psychometrics, and statistics to analyze large data sets to answer educational research questions. The increase in instrumented educational software, as well as state databases of student test scores, has created large repositories of data reflecting how students learn. The EDM conference focuses on computational approaches for using those data to address important educational questions. The broad collection of research disciplines ensures cross fertilization of ideas, with the central questions of educational research serving as a unifying focus. This Conference emerges from preceding EDM workshops at the AAAI, AIED, EC-TEL, ICALT, ITS, and UM conferences.

Topics Of Interest

We welcome papers describing original work. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:

Improving educational software. Many large educational data sets are generated by computer software. Can we use our discoveries to improve the software’s effectiveness?

Domain representation. How do learners represent the domain? Does this representation shift as a result of instruction? Do different subpopulations represent the domain differently?

Evaluating teaching interventions. Student learning data provides a powerful mechanism for determining which teaching actions are successful. How can we best use such data?

Emotion, affect, and choice. The student’s level of interest and willingness to be a partner in the educational process is critical. Can we detect when students are bored and uninterested? What other affective states or student choices should we track?

Integrating data mining and pedagogical theory. Data mining typically involves searching a large space of models. Can we use existing educational and psychological knowledge to better focus our search?
Improving teacher support. What types of assessment information would help teachers? What types of instructional suggestions are both feasible to generate and would be welcomed by teachers?

Replication studies. We are especially interested in papers that apply a previously used technique to a new domain, or that reanalyze an existing data set with a new technique.

Important Dates

Paper submission: March 31, 2008
Acceptance notification: April 30, 2008
Camera ready paper: May 16, 2008
Conference: June 20-21, 2008

Submission Types

All submissions should follow the formatting guidelins (MS Word, PDF). There are two types of submission:
Full papers: Maximum of 10 pages. Should describe substantial, unpublished work
Young researcher: Maximum of 8 pages. Designed for graduate students and undergraduates

Conference Organization

Conference Chair: Tiffany Barnes, University of North Carolina Charlotte, USA
Program Chairs: Ryan S. J. de Baker, Carnegie Mellon University, USA; Joseph E. Beck, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA
Local Arrangements Chair: Michel Desmáris, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, Canada
Web Chair: Arnon Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University, Israel

(Click here for a PDF version)

InspireData for RTI and related data-driven decision-making efforts

I've been sharing more information over the past few weeks that focuses on topics such as data-driven decision making, educational and social-behavioral progress monitoring, the use of technology to support, deliver, and monitor interventions, and the importance of quality educational data management system.

All of these topics come into play when we plan, implement, and evaluate efforts to improve learning and behavior among students in K-12 settings. In order to meet the needs of our students as well as keep up with the efforts such as RTI (Response to Intervention), school psychologists, educators, and administrators will need to brush up on their measurement, statistics, and data analysis know-how.

A low-cost solution might be available to you in your schools to get started with the basics. InspireData is an application initially intended for teaching students about data analysis, statistics, data analysis, and data representation. Originally funded by the National Science Foundation, inspiration has the basic tools for educators to get started with tracking and analyzing student data. Since it was designed to teach data literacy skills for students in grades 4 through 12, it is easy enough for them to use to track their own progress.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


The amount of data collected for monitoring interventions can be overwhelming. Innovative solutions that harness technology can help. Here are a few examples:
From the IDEA Partnership website:


“The Royal Oak RTI Management System is a secure district Intranet system that promotes interactive problem solving and decision making among Student Study Team members for the purpose of improving student achievement. The system allows all members of a school’s team to enter and continually monitor the information necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of prescriptive interventions, strategies and programs as well as gauge individual students’ progress. This team includes the district director of special education, school psychologists, literacy coaches, teacher consultants, other specialists, principals, teachers, students and their parents."

"Particular emphasis is placed on the leadership of building principals and general educators in the successful implementation of the system. In development for a year, the RTI Management System is being piloted in 2007-08 in two elementary schools, with universal screening (AIMSweb) for all second graders (as well as individual screening for other students who are referred to school psychologists). Universal screening is followed by continuous probes of student progress. Entries on students begin with data-driven questions based on screening results. Team members enter the specific area they will work on (e.g., fractions, phonemic awareness, any skill or behavior); the exact steps; who will do what; duration and frequency; and who is responsible for probes of student progress. In addition, the school psychologists have created a graph that charts individual students’ growth so that their progress can be monitored and the effectiveness of interventions can be evaluated. The charts incorporated in the RTI Management System can provide ongoing graphic comparisons between the student’s
trend line progress and target line (goal) expectations for use in team meetings."

"The secure online form has a slot for email addresses requested by the team at various levels, so that a team member can add information and make comments and suggestions. When anything new is added to a student’s page, the entire team gets an email flag, and they can interact about a student’s interventions and progress (much like a blog or threaded conversation). Parents’ passwords are coded for information and discussions on their child only. At the school and district level, there’s a summary page that lists all students, a brief description of the problem, and progress of all students in the school who are involved in RTI.”

For more information on the RTI Management System:
Melinda Stout, Director of Special Education
or Ed Meade, School Psychologist, School District of the City of Royal Oak

Wireless Generation

I have not yet evaluated the software developed by Wireless Generation. From what I can see, it is the software used in the Royal Oak schools, mentioned above. My hope that it is flexible and user friendly!

Here is some information from the company's website:

"A leader in educational assessment, reporting, and professional development, Wireless Generation offers solutions that give teachers, coaches, and administrators real-time data about student progress and the capacity to use it to improve reading and math achievement, and reduce special education referrals."

"The mCLASS software is a complete handheld-to-Web solution that saves classroom time, reduces paperwork and allows you to apply results to instructions.
Each mCLASS Solution:

  • Automates scoring & timing
  • Gives real-time assessment results
  • Delivers one-touch robust Web reporting for deep analysis of scores
How does it work?
A teacher assesses the student using a handheld computer loaded with mCLASS assessment software. When assessment is complete, the teacher gets a student’s results instantly on the handheld, “syncs” the handheld to a secure, password-protected Web site, views and analyzes Web-based reports on the class and individual students, and then uses the information to tailor instruction to students’ needs."

Whitpaper: An Analysis of Technology-Assisted Progress Monitoring to Drive Improved Student Outcomes (Download)

Wireless Generations' mClass: RTI Software (information page)

From the Science Daily website:

Autism Caught on Tape: Computer Scientists Use Technology to Help Children with Autism

"Computer scientists have devised two tools to help people interact with autistic children. Videotaping interactions allows teachers or parents to replay situations and evaluate the cause of particularly good or bad behavior. Cataloging actual data, rather relying on memory or interpretation, proves to be a more accurate measure of a situation."

CareLog and Abaris are data collection/logging tools used in intervention and progress monitoring of students who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The tools were developed by Dr. Gregory Abowd, a Human Computer Interaction professor at Georgia Tech, and his research teams. Dr. Abowd is the father of two sons who have ASD.

Screenshot of Abaris:

CareLog Screenshot:

Detailed information about CareLog and related technologies can be found in Documenting and Understanding Everyday Activities through the Selective Archiving of Everyday Activities, a Ph.D. dissertation written by Gillian Hayes, at Georgia Tech.(2007)

Software such as CareLog and Abaris is much-needed, given the significant increas in the number of young people who have autism spectrum disorders.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Link: Curriculum Planning for All Learners, by Grace Meo

Take the time to read the article, Curriculum Planning for All Learners, written by Grace Meo, an advocate of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This article provides a good framework for implementing UDL at the high school level by the use of a PAL (Planning for All Learners) team. The author looks at ways that the PAL process can be applied to support vocabulary and reading comprehension, which is important, given the high numbers of students at the high school level who struggle with reading.

Be sure to scroll down to the Appendix section of the article, where you'll find a variety of references, resources, and links. If you work at the high school level, consider sharing the article with your colleagues.

Here is the abstract from the article:

"The universal design for learning (UDL) principles provide a blueprint for designing a curriculum that addresses the diverse needs of all learners. The author provides an overview of UDL, connections to curriculum planning, and practical techniques that guide general and special education teachers in planning and implementing curriculum, using the planning for all learners (PAL) procedures. PAL is a 4-step process for designing and implementing a curriculum (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) that is accessible and effective for all learners. In this article, the author focuses on high school social studies content with a goal of supporting all students' understanding of the content by bringing together principles of UDL, the PAL process, and research-based reading comprehension strategies. KEYWORDS: accessibility, curriculum planning and instruction, reading comprehension, secondary school, universal design for learning"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cooperation between Special Educators and Regular Education Technology Coordinators is Vital!

In many school districts, there is a disconnect between special education departments, responsible for overseeing assistive technology, and the educational technology and IT support departments, within the domain of regular education. Since most students who receive special education and related services receive most of their instruction in regular education classes, a high level of collaboration, communication, and coordination between regular education and special education is essential.

These issues are discussed in detail in an article written by Michelle R. Davis, in Education Week's Digital Directions: Technology Cooperation Vital in Special Education

"New software, advanced technology, and computerized devices can help special education students talk to their teachers, write out their thoughts and feelings, and understand a printed page. But schools are finding that many of the high-tech devices can’t open those doors for students without direct and ongoing assistance from information-technology specialists."

Some thoughts:

With the movement towards technology integration in regular education classrooms that supports Universal Design for Learning, RTI (Response to Intervention), and "21st Century Schools", the need for professional development related to technology is fundamental. Continued professional development that focuses on skills related to collaboration, communication, and data-driven decision making is also important.

With new technologies and applications come additional questions that might not have been previously anticipated. Solutions vary between classrooms, schools, districts, regions, and states, as evidence by the lively discussions and information shared online at Classroom 2.0. and information available on websites sites such as Edutopia, CAST, CITEd, and NCTCI.

There are many questions that need to be asked, now, and in anticipation of future technology innovations.

The questions we ask, and the answers we receive, are influenced by many factors, such as our personal level of technological knowledge and expertise, the "technology IQ" of key decision-makers within our school districts, state departments of education, and influential university researchers, and support from our schools receive from our respective communities.\

How do we prepare ourselves for new technologies?

For example, there has been an increase in the number of classrooms that have interactive whiteboards. In the future, teachers might find themselves figuring out how to create co-operative group lessons for use on interactive tables, such as Microsoft's
Surface or the TouchTable. These tables are WiFi and BlueTooth enabled, so they can interact with mobile and handheld devices. They can support applications that track student interaction and progress, and most likely can support activities that are consistent with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

How do we measure the effectiveness of educational practices and interventions that involve technology?

Do the data systems in place, or planned for the near future, support and integrate all of the tasks required to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate evidence-based education and prevention/intervention "best practices"?

  • Some school districts still rely on DOS-based student data management systems, or use systems that do not allow for much flexibility.
How do we track educational materials? Software? Hardware? Assistive technology devices and applications?

Some educational software programs generate a vast amount of data. How is this data integrated electronically in a way that is meaningful to all "stakeholders"?

What is the quality of the data? Who has access to this data?
Is the database management system in place useful and easy-to-use?

How is this data shared between regular education and special education departments, for those students who require additional specialized support?

Who is responsible for ensuring the privacy and security of data obtained during progress monitoring for students who are involved in the RTI process? What do school leaders know about trends towards "educational data mining"?

What are the responsibilities of the local school district regarding technology integration, implementation, staff development, and evaluation, and what are the responsibilities of the universities and state departments of education?

How do we share information about technology grant opportunities? How do we learn and share "what works" - within and beyond our own school districts? How do we ensure that everyone is on board?

Short List of Resources

(I've posted about most of these resources in the past. For additional information, do a "search" on this blog, as well as on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.)

Classroom 2.0 is a social network for educators using collaborative technologies, with an related Wiki for sharing resources and strategies. Members can also join smaller groups, according to their interests. For example, there is a Classroom 2.0 group of educators who discuss how technology supports inclusion.

Edutopia is an organization funded by the George Lucas Foundation
"We publish the stories of innovative teaching and learning through a variety of media -- a magazine, e-newsletters, DVDs, books, and this Web site. Here, you'll find detailed articles, in-depth case studies, research summaries, short documentary segments, expert interviews, and links to hundreds of relevant resources. You'll also be able to participate as a member of an online community of people actively working to reinvent schools for the twenty-first century."

"The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) advances learning opportunities for all students, with a special focus on individuals with disabilities. Funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education, NCTI offers technical guidance to facilitate growth and sustainability of assistive and learning tools by fostering innovative technology solutions."

(Resources for Universal Design for Learning)

Center for Implementing Technology In Education
CITEd Online WebTour

Tool for finding assistive and learning technology products for students with special needs.

Data Quality Campaign:
The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) is a national, collaborative effort to encourage and support state policymakers to
  • improve the collection, availability, and use of high-quality education data, and
  • implement state longitudinal data systems to improve student achievement.

UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education

If you need a good opener for a technology workshop, take a look at this thought-provoking video that was originally used for a staff development activity at a high school:


Shift Happens WikiSpace

Karl Fichs's Fischbowl

If you are working on a team that is focused on coordinating technology efforts between special education and regular education, please leave a comment, as well as links to information and resources you've found to be helpful.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Steps4Kids: DVD-based visual learning system for students with disabilities

"Video media focus on role modeling; the use of real people, places" -from an article in the North County Times.

A link to this article was posted in a recent brief from the Council for Exceptional Children. The Steps4Kids program was developed by Lucile Lynch, a mother of a child with multiple disabilities, and Harmony Piper, an occupational therapist.

Information from the Steps4Kids website:

"Our goal is to provide persons responsible for teaching children with positive, effective support tools so that children can be successful in handling their academic, social, behavioral and physical tasks."

"Examples of products and programs developed by Steps4Kids include the award winning handwriting DVD Steps4Kids to Write Their ABCs, the Gift of Friendship program (inclusion program), customized Steps4Kids learning DVDs (to help children with spelling, reading and other academic and behavior skills) and other programs designed to strengthen children's skills and self confidence."

If you've used Steps4Kids products with students or your own child, please leave a comment!


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Update: So you're getting interactive whiteboard! Now what?

If you hadn't noticed, there is an increase in the number of classrooms that have interactive whiteboards or displays. My school will have two whiteboards soon. To prepare for the transition, teachers are searching for information beyond what is provided by SmartTechnologies or Promethean, two industry leaders.

I've mentioned in previous posts that I tried out a variety of interactive whiteboards and large touch-screen displays when I worked on a project for a Human-Computer Interaction class I took in 2007. My favorite was the NextWindow Human Touch display, which contains WiFi and BlueTooth enabled computer. The display stays well calibrated, has a high resolution, and has excellent touch response. It does not require a projector, so shadows aren't cast when people are at the screen, which is formally known as the "problem of occlusion".

Fortunately, there are resources on the web to help teachers learn more about the various ways they can harness the power of interactive technology to support innovative, effective teaching and learning.

I came across this link, posted in Langwitches recent blog entry,
Interactive Whiteboards: Which? How? What? that is suitable for beginners:

Thirty-Two Interesting Ways (and tips) to Use Your Interactive Whiteboard

Another good source , from the Georgia Department of Education's Educational Technology Training Center, is the Interactive Whiteboard Links

Here are some of my posts and links regarding interactive whiteboards and displays:'s Educational Outreach: Multimedia Games, Experiments, and Simulated Environments

Interactive Whiteboards Increase Student Attention, Engagement, and Test Scores!

Edusim: 3D Collaborative Application for Interactive Displays and Whiteboards

Explore Learning, Interactive Displays, Revisited

Virtual Reality Field Trips, Created by Psychologists

eSchool News Online: Microscope Imaging Station from the Exploratorium

Interactive Information Visualization: Digg Labs Website

Gigapan: Good for interactive whiteboards and large touch screen displays

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

Examples of interactive touch screen displays, on the Future-Making Serious Games blog:

For the technically inclined:
Johnny Lee's Wii Hacks
Video: Low Cost Multi-Point Interactive Whiteboard with the Wiimote

Scratch: A new programming language for kids that supports stories, animations, games, music, art, websharing, from MIT


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)

Quotes about visual and multimedia literacy, Part I

Quotes about visual and multimedia literacy, Part II

If you'd like to explore and discuss new technologies, join Classroom 2.0. There is a section about interactive whiteboards in the Classroom 2.0 Resources Wiki.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

National Center for Technology Innovation: Technology for Intervention

Technology can make it easier to implement and track interventions, and in turn, facilitate the documentation of "evidence-based" interventions. Here are some examples:

The National Center for Technology Innovation (NCTI) advances learning opportunities for all students, with a special focus on individuals with disabilities. Funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education, NCTI offers technical guidance to facilitate growth and sustainability of assistive and learning tools by fostering innovative technology solutions"

Here are some of the innovations noted at NCTI's November 2007 conference:

NCTI Brightest Idea Peer Award:

SMART Brain Games

"SMART Brain Home System, developed by CyberLearning Technology, uses neurofeedback to improve the behaviors of individuals with autism, language disorders, and attention deficits. Individuals play a Sony PlayStation® racing game while wearing a visor with 3 sensors and using a specially programmed game controller. The player receives auditory, visual and tactile feedback, depending on the real time brain wave patterns being used. The equipment is being tested through an NCTI grant with adolescents with ADD."


Social Simentor is "an e-learning assistive technology program offering instruction, interactive scenarios, simulation and feedback for individuals with disabilities who struggle with interpersonal skills in social and business settings." One goal of Social Simentor is to develop skills related to emotional intelligence.

Access Technologies Group adapted Simentor to research the question, "Can digital role-play software, "Social Simentor™", reinforce effective social behavior, provide constructive feedback on incorrect or inappropriate behavior to such a degree that these new skills are internalized and can be applied in a real live social setting?"

Online demo of the Social Simentor prototype.
Online demo of the Simentor Interview Simulation
Simentor website

Mobile Learning, Learning with Handheld Devices: Link to Handheld Learning 2007 conference videos

When we think about integrating technology into learning environments, it is important to take a good look at the innovative ways that hand-held devices are being used for learning, including collaborative learning, in and out of the classroom.

Many newer handheld devices and SmartPhones come equipped with GPS, as well as Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. Many have larger screens that provide a better view of interactive and educational websites. More websites are becoming optimized for the smaller screen.

To get up to speed, take some time to view the Handheld Learning 2007 conference videos, found on the Blip TV website.

(The link was provided by Marcus Specht, an associate professor at the Open University of the Netherlands and is involved in research projects in "learning, knowledge management and contextualized information services". Marcus blogs at Marcusspecht.)

From NCTI:

First Cell Phone that Reads to the Blind and Dyslexic Released

"This truly pocket-size Reader enables users to take pictures of and read most printed materials at the push of a button. Blind users hear the contents of the document read in clear synthetic speech, while users who can see the screen and those with learning disabilities can enlarge, read, track, and highlight printed materials using the phone’s large and easy-to-read display. The combination of text-to-speech and tracking features makes interpreting text much easier for individuals with learning disabilities."
For additional information:
Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Readers

Here is an excerpt about hand-held and mobile devices from a previous post from the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog:


There are some classrooms in that do not use textbooks. Textbooks are provided to students electronically on their PDA's. Some versions of electronic textbooks are interactive and include hypertext links to supplemental information or activities. Students who use Wi-Fi enabled PDA's have access to interactive websites that compliment what they are learning in class.

In most classrooms that use this form for instruction, students often work in pairs and groups. Because PDA's run many of the same applications as do PC's, they can be utilized for frequent monitoring and charting of progress. Here are a few resources:


"Our classroom uses Windows CE and Pocket PC based Personal Digital Assistants (we call them PDA's.) We are running a paperless classroom with the PDA's. All homework and reading assignments are done on the PDA's. We do not use copied ditto sheets or heavy textbooks. All of this is accomplished in a 7th and 8th Grade Language Arts class, not in a math or science classroom."

This is a good example of how a teacher, a "rookie" during the 1998-99 school year, embraced new and effective ways of using technology to meet the needs of a diverse range of learners in the middle school setting for Language Arts instruction. This website has expanded to include a range of resources for educators interested in learning how to implement paperless classrooms. Research in this area can be found through HiCe and related organizations.

HICE: Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education

HiCe provides consultation and resources for schools regarding the use of handheld devices in learning environments. The work of the HiCe project at the University of Michigan has been in place for over a decade.."With PDA's, students can access websites created by their teachers to keep track of assignments and upload or e-mail assignments when completed. Software on PDA's such as calendars and an alarm can help students who have organization problems."

A spin-off of the HiCe project is GOKNOW.

INSPIRATION for handhelds



A create-a-scape, otherwise known as 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.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."

Quick Demo: How to Make a MediaScape
Create-a-Scape Teacher Resource Site


Moop was developed in Finland and integrated up-to-date SmartPhones into daily learning activities. Some of the activities involved out-door learning experiences. "Through Moop, a pupil makes observations and saves and manages information in the mobile and network learning platform. The learning environment supports the process of inquiry learning, during which a pupil outlines his or her thoughts on the current topic, collects information and observations from the surroundings and reports the findings in the network-learning environment. Moop project is based on needs of schools and teachers: the traditional learning environment is broadened from classroom to observation in the surroundings"

Mattila, P. & Fordell, T. (2005) MOOP- Using m-learning environment in primary schools.
Mattila, P. (2005) Moop - Mobile Learning Environment as Part of Daily School Work


Quote from the project website:
"…the user group has expanded to encompass people of all ages, from grandparents getting involved in family learning, adults looking to improve their employment prospects, to pregnant teenagers needing health advice and guidance."

The M-Learning website provides extensive resources for m-learning; it is a good place for self-study and for staff development for anyone planning on using m-learning as a strategy. You'll find demos of software and links to references and resources, along with video clips useful for presentations.