Sunday, March 23, 2008

SymTrend: Use of a PDA for tracking progress for children and adults with Asperger Syndrome and other disorders

I'm always on the lookout for applications that can support intervention and progress monitoring. SymTrend is a company that provides coaching and monitoring software for a variety of social and emotional difficulties and disorders. SymTrend looks like it has potential for intervention and progress monitoring in schools for RTI (Response to Intervention), Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, and IEP's.

The beauty of SymTrend, in my opinion, is that it helps people develop self-monitoring skills through providing a means of analyzing data that is gathered frequently. From what I understand, through interaction with the software, the student/client establishes a better understanding of themselves, and also and understanding of feelings, triggers, reactions, and coping strategies. A rich amount of data is collected that can be helpful to treatment providers, or special educators.

The following video from Minna Levine, Ph.D., president of SymTrend, explains how it can be used for young people who have Asperger syndrome:

Information I "reblogged" Dan Brickland, a SymTrend Advocate:

"SymTrend is an electronic diary system that is designed to optimize symptom and behavior reporting, progress tracking, and session to session progress. It combines tracking tools to see how things are going, with analytic tools for seeing what might subvert or retard treatment efficacy. It also contains guidance tools that can help make things go better. SymTrend is most useful when one or more of the following occur in a health or educational challenge:

  • The course of change is slow and the indices of progress may be mixed or ambiguous.
  • There is no single magic bullet solution or cure.
  • There are, instead, multiple solution strategies that can be tried.
  • The best combination of solution strategies depends on individual circumstances.
  • The delivery of multiple services occurs at different sites and requires some coordination in time or over developmental stages.
  • The road to success has hidden mine fields that impede progress, must be located, and that must be circumvented.
  • The indices of progress - symptom reduction and skill building - are best measured at home or in the community not in an office.
  • Progress indices change through out the day or from day to day in response to events.
  • Verbal report is compromised by observational and memory failure.
  • The verbal report takes longer than the service provider can give to listen.
  • The person with the problem would benefit from on the spot "when to" reminders to improve progress.
  • The person with the problem would benefit from how to reminders which enhance presence of mind and executive functioning reminders to improve progress."
-From "My Take on SymTrend"

If you are using SymTrend in the schools, clinical practice, or for research, please leave a comment!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Learning, Arts, and the Brain: The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition

I came across an interesting article Education Week, written by Debra Viadero, that reviews some of the findings of a report by the Dana Foundation. The report is the result of three years of research conducted by a variety of neuroscientists and psychologists who investigated the impact of training in art, music, and dance on thinking abilities.

Here is the link:
Learning, Arts, and the Brain (pdf)
(Organized by Michael Gazzaniga, Edited by Carolyn Asbury, ScM.P.H., Ph.D. and Barbara Rich, Ed.D.)

I noticed that two of the researchers were people who were strong influences on me when I an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. John Jonides, Ph.D., was a professor for one of my psychology courses, and introduced me to the work of Michael Posner, Ph.D, another contributor to Learning, Arts, and the Brain. Dr. Jonides is currently the Daniel J. Weintraub Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and co-director of the fMRI Center at the University of Michigan. Dr. Posener is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of Oregon and the Adjunct Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AT&T and Universal Design

"AT&T Unveils Universal Design Approach to Help Developers Meet the Wireless Needs of Customers with Disabilities"

This is good news!

From the AT&T website:

"It is our goal that the concept of 'design for all' is not viewed as a constraint but as a catalyst for innovation across the industry," said Carlton Hill, vice president of Marketing for AT&T's mobile unit. "We believe that, by making our methodology on Universal Design available for all to see, we can show the importance and value of creating wireless products and services that are usable and beneficial to as many people as possible. The end result will be more choices for more consumers."

"Integration of Universal Design into business practice is fundamental to our mission of equitable access to wireless technologies for people of all ages and abilities," said Jim Mueller, project director, User-Centered Research, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies at Georgia Tech. "We're glad that AT&T shares our commitment and is making its Universal Design methodology publicly available."

Examples of accessible products/services:

* Mobile Speak is a powerful, full-fledged screen-reader with an easy-to-learn command structure, intuitive speech feedback in several languages and Braille support, which can be used with or without speech. Unlike other screen-readers for mobile phones, Mobile Speak automatically detects information that the blind user should know, just as a user with sight would easily find highlighted items or key areas of the screen at a glance.
* Mobile Magnifier is a flexible, full-screen magnification application that supports low- and high-resolution screens and can be used with or without speech feedback. Magnification software is compatible with a wide variety of mobile devices.

AT&T's Universal Design Policy
AT&T's Universal Design Principles (pdf)is a good resource about Universal Design and mobile/hand held technology, complete with pictures, example scenarios, and links to additional information.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hug from a Distance Video; Hug Shirt: Wearable Interventions for people with autism spectrum disorders?

"Hug from a Distance" is a vest that can be electronically controlled to give someone a hug over the Internet. The vest was created by Floyd Meuller, who has a rich background in interactive technologies, multimedia, and interdisciplinary research.

Children with autism spectrum disorders who calm with pressure might benefit from this type of vest.

Another wearable technology is the Hug Shirt.

"Wearers hug themselves, then using Bluetooth technology and their cell phone, they can send it to someone else wearing a Hug Shirt that simulates the feeling of the hug," says Francesca Rosella, creative director of London-based CuteCircuit, which developed the interactive top. "It copies the strength, length, temperature and heart rate of the hug."

It would be interesting to research the effectiveness of these wearable technologies with children and teens who have autism spectrum disorders.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

E-learning and 2.0 tools for K-12 staff development, students, and parents

I'm a member of Classroom 2.0, "the social network for educators using collaborative technologies", and over the past few months, I've sensed an increase in the number of people working in K-12 school districts who are faced with moving much of their staff development content to the web. Others are in the process of providing more on-line learning and communication opportunities for students - and parents.

Folks used to delivering workshops in front of tired teachers at a staff meeting at the end of a long day know that moving to on-line delivery methods will be a challenge, but if done right, most likely will provide our colleagues with a much richer and meaningful experience.

I my case, I can't wait to get going with Moodle, the open-source learning management and collaboration system my school district has adopted.

If you are new to all of this, keep in mind that the time-line for acceptance and adoption of Web 2.0 tools in K-12 settings varies between schools, school districts and regions. In some schools, students and teachers use blogs, wikis, on-line journals, interactive multimedia portfolios, and other 2.0 related sites to share content, upload presentations, and communicate with other classes within their school, and around the world.

If this isn't happening in your school, it is likely that you'll experience changes within the next two years or so. If you are new to "Web 2.0" concepts and scratching your head, know that there is a lot of support out there! Many members of Classroom 2.0 share resources and "how-to" information via the Classroom 2.0 forum and the resources wiki.

From now on, I'd like to devote an occasional post focused on the topic of using 2.0 tools for staff development, and also touch on the use of 2.0 tools for e-learning for students and parent education and support.

In the future, I'd also like to share information about how on-line tools are currently being used to support counseling and social skills activities for students.

Related Resources:

Learn N.C. offers distance education for teachers and students, including interactive video conferencing, NC Virtual Public Schools, and classroom resources.

Learn N.C. also offers educators the opportunity to obtain a certificate in on-line instruction, through the COLT program.

If you don't have time to take things slowly, you can get a few quick tips from Tom Kuhlman's recent post on his Rapid E-Learning blog. Although Tom's focus in staff development for people in the corporate world, the principles are the same:

How to Create E-learning Courses That Don't Waste Your Learner's Time

For school psychologists and related professionals:

School psychologists might be faced with preparing workshops for staff related to RTI (Response to Intervention) and school-wide positive behavior support implementation. Using web 2.0 tools to get the job done is something worth considering.

The first step is to take a giant step back and look at the big picture. Look at your school district's long-range technology plan, and revisit the technology plan that is in place for your school. You might also want to look at your state's technology plan and get a list of the contacts assigned to your region.

Find out who is the "2.0" go-to person or group where you work. Keep in mind that some school districts roll out 2.0 tools in phases. Even if your school's technology is "2002-ish", take a look around at what other schools in your district, region, and state are doing, and ask questions so you can be prepared.

Feel free to leave a comment and share what your school district is doing!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

"A Fresh Look at Brain-Based Education": Info from Eric P. Jensen's article in the Phi Delta Kappan; Dr. Judy Willis

"Brain-Based Education" is a buzz-phrase that educators have been hearing about for a while now. I'm sure that some of us have wondered if the term has been over used in an attempt to sell more educational materials and products.

Connie Weber, a member of HASTAC, posted an interesting message in the HASTAC on Ning forum about an article written by Eric P. Jensen in the February 2008 issue of the Phi Delta Kappan (Vol. 89. No.6)

From Connie Weber--

"This article in Phi Delta Kappan got me thinking a lot. Here's a list of 10 connections for educators; surely these discoveries have relevance for our Cybernetic Age, for planning out how to nurture positive brain development..."

From Jensen:

"Schools present countless opportunities to affect students' brains. Such issues as stress, exercise, nutrition, and social conditions are all relevant, brain-based issues that affect cognition, attention, classroom discipline, attendance, and memory. Our new understanding is that every school day changes the student's brain in some way. Once we make those connections, we can make choices in how we prioritize policies and strategies. Here are some of the powerful connections for educators to make."


ERIC P. JENSEN is a former middle school teacher and adjunct professor for the University of California, San Diego. He co-founded the Brain Store and the Learning Brain EXPO and has written 21 books on the brain and learning. His most recent book is Enriching the Brain (Jossey-Bass, 2006). He currently is a doctoral student in Media Psychology at Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, Calif. (c)2008, Eric P. Jensen.


Somewhere in the TechPsych archives is my previous post on this topic, highlighting the work of Dr. Judy Willis. Dr. Willis is a board-certified neurologist who practiced neurology for 20 years. She is now a teacher at Santa Barbara Middle school. She is the author "The Neuroscience of Joyful Education", an article that appeared in the Summer 2007 edition of Educational Leadership.

Dr. Willis is the author of Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist/Classroom Teacher and Brain Friendly Strategies for the Inclusion Classroom". (These are two books worth reading!)

Judy Willis (;

Friday, March 07, 2008

Smartphones in Education: Project K-Nect in North Carolina

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If you serve on an RTI or Problem-Solving Team at the high school level, you know how difficult it is to find evidence-based resources for interventions that are geared for students beyond the elementary school level.

The project currently targets ninth grade students in Onslow, Durham, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth counties in North Carolina.

Ninth grade is important grade to target, since ninth grade historically is the level with the highest percentage of students who are required to repeat a grade. Failing Algebra is often one of the reasons behind this phenomenon. Ninth grade is also the level that experiences a significant increase in suspensions. Students who fall into one or both of these categories have a higher risk of dropping out of school.

Project K-Nect is something that is worth following:

"Project K-Nect is design to address three core needs that include the lack of at-home Internet Access for our country's poorest families, 21st century skills development, and the math and science deficit."

The project is a collaboration between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, DMC -Digital Millennial Consulting, and Wireless Reach (Qualcomm).

From the website -

"Goals & Objectives:

To develop, implement and test an integrated system that will deliver supplemental digital instructional content and foster peer to peer collaboration through mobile devices to increase
mathematic achievement for 9
th and 10th grade students in the State of North Carolina.
To test the efficacy and viability of mobile devices as digital assets that can be utilized as both a social communications tool and educational resource for students in US secondary education institutions.
To foster the design of a system that enables safe closed social, educational communications between students, teachers and parents.
To empower students with 21st century skills through secondary education institutions
To determine if mobile devices can be utilized as a mechanism for reducing the disparity between those who are and are not connected with particular attention on rural areas within the State.

The project targets 9th grade "at-risk" students who have limited math proficiency, limited or no access to a home computer or the internet at home."

Research questions involved in this project, according to the website:
1.Do positive correlations exist between cell phone usage and student performance?
2.Does cell phone usage and student performance correlate positively to the implementation and technology?
3.Can education delivered through mobile devices increase access to e-learning for students with no home access otherwise?
4.Can mobile devices be utilized as a mechanism for increasing student achievement among academically at-risk students?
5.Can math curricula delivered through comfortable and familiar cell phones increase students’ levels of interest in math?
6.Do positive correlations exist between peer-to-peer social networking for mathematics support and student achievement?
7.Do students’ report satisfaction and useful learning support from the social networking systems?

NCDPI Press Release


NCDPI Contacts:
Vanessa Jeter, Communications Director
Phone: 919.807.3469

Digital Millennial Consulting Contacts:
Shawn Gross, Project Manager
Phone: 919.386.0341

Qualcomm Contacts:
Yennie Rautenberg, Corporate Communications
Phone: 858.845.5959

John Gilbert, Investor Relations
Phone: 858.658.4813

Note: For more information about the use of hand-held devices for education, do a search on this blog as well as the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

EduBloggers Directory

After an active discussion in a Classroom 2.0 forum (Let's Share Links to our Blogs!), Patricia Donaghy put together the International Edubloggers Directory.

Each Edublogger in the directory has a page that gives information about their interests and the theme of their blog or blogs. Be prepared to spend some time in the edublogsphere!

Here is information from the "About" section of the directory:

Purpose of this Site
"The purpose of this site is to provide an up to date directory of edubloggers from around the world. The site will provide an easy way to find out what other edubloggers are blogging about."

"I hope you enjoy using the site and that you are able to make many useful connections. Please feel free to add any suggestions or recommendations for improvements by adding a comment."

Patricia Donaghy
Site Administrator

Email me:

My Blogs
Using ICT in Further Education
Free Resources for Education

Thanks, Patricia!

Here's a link to one of my previous posts about edublogging:
Links to Edubloggers, Blogging Psychologists, and More

Virtual Worlds and Games in Education: Link to posts

If you are interested in learning more about virtual worlds and gaming in education, take a look at my recent posts on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog. Sharon Burns did an excellent job in her video overview that includes virtual worlds for children, such as Whyville.

More about Virtual Worlds in Education: Link to Edutopia's articles and resources.

Post from Johnathan Tarr, HASTAC, about Sharon Burn's Virtual Worlds Tour ( includes an 8-minute overview video)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Blogmarks: knann's bookmarks to interactive websites.

"knann" has posted several bookmarks on Blogmarks about interactive websites and applications for education, including some that look appropriate for interactive whiteboards and displays.

Blogmarks provides screen-shots of bookmarked web-pages that are helpful in locating information quickly.

Click on any of the above screenshots to discover some of the links on knann's Blogmarks.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Cross Post from Interactive Multimedia: Online Multimedia Library for K-12 and Higher from LEARN N.C.

Learn N.C. has a wealth of on-line resources for educators, students, and parents. I particularly like the on-line multimedia library. Below are links to resources for the following topics, obtained through the "tag cloud" on the multimedia library site.

4-H clubs Agra American Indians American Indian towns Angkor animals archaeology architecture artAsia Bali Bangkok beaches birds boat Buddhism Cambodia carvings children Colombia colonialcostumes deities demons drawings Ecuador Emerald Buddha Temple excavations families farming fishing flowers food forests geography girls grass Green 'N' Growing Hanoi Hanuman Hinduismhistory houses illustrations India Indonesia Jaipur Jodhpur John White Khmer kings labor landformslandscapes maps markets men's work Mexico monkeys monuments mountains murals music Mysorenational parks Nepal North Carolina Occaneechi paintings palaces performance Rama RamayanaRavana religion rice rivers rural life salt marshes sandstone Sita snakes Southeast Asia technologytemples Thailand theaters tourism transportation trees turkey Ubud urban life Utah Vietnam Vietnam WarVirginia water women women's work

LEARN NC is led by a number of knowledgable staff and consultants.

The website is worth exploring for a while!