Monday, February 23, 2009

Cogmed RoboMemory: Technology to Improve Working Memory; Play Attention to Improve Focus

Cogmed is a Swedish company that developed a computerized working memory training program. There are two versions of the application, one for children, and the other for adults. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has worked with children or teens with Cogmed computer applications.

Here is a recent article that demonstrates how using the Cogmed application can change brain chemistry:
Changes in Cortical Dopamine D1 Receptor Binding Associated with Cognitive Training (pdf) Fiona McNab, Andrea Varrone, Lars Farde, Aurelija Jucaite,Paulina Bystritsky, Hans Forssberg, Torkel Klingberg
Methods, Table S1, and References(pdf)


"Working memory is a key function for human cognition, dependent on adequate dopamine neurotransmission. Here we show that the training of working memory, which improves working memory capacity, is associated with changes in the density of cortical dopamine D1 receptors. Fourteen hours of training over 5 weeks was associated with changes in both prefrontal and parietal D1 binding potential. This plasticity of the dopamine D1 receptor system demonstrates a reciprocal interplay between mental activity and brain biochemistry in vivo."

Cogmed's Working Memory Guide

Photos from the Cogmed website.

Cogmed JM, for children ages 4-7

Cogmed RM for children and teens 7 and up

Cogmed QM for adults

It looks like this software would be good to consider for people who have working memory problems related to traumatic brain injuries, in addition to people who have ADD or ADHD and problems with executive functions.

Another computer-based application, reportedly been used in 450 schools, is Play Attention, by Unique Logic and Technology, and uses "Edufeedback", a technique that is similar to neurofeedback, to help people improve focus and attention.

Play Attention's ADHD Video Gallery

"Edufeedback allows Play Attention students to see attention in real-time by controlling video games by attention alone in order to build cognitive skills and shape behaviors. Edufeedback also allows students to see a direct correlation between attention and behavior; fidgeting makes the Play Attention games stop if attention wanes."

I would be interested in hearing from psychologists who use Cogmed or PlayAttention products. Is anyone using Cogmed or PlayAttention for RTI purposes?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rich White's "Mobile Immersive Learning Lab" Project; EduSim Update

Rich White is an educational technologist for Greenbush County, Kansas, has been working with the 3D interactive virtual world, EduSim, for quite a while. He's taking EduSim to the next level.

concept is one of an enclosed virtual learning space - with surrounded projection of the virtual learning world the students are exploring - similar to the StarLab Concept (with a rectangular configuration). along the lines of a CAVE - however simpler, mobile, and relatively in-expensive by comparison."

The project is at the beginning prototype stage.

Below is a demo of the virtual world as it is projected on two screens that are placed next to each other at a right angle, with the center of the virtual-world view positioned where the two screens meet:

This might be a great way of reaching students who have autism!

More about EduSim:

EduSim, for those of you haven't seen my previous posts on the topic, is a multi-user 3D interactive environment used in classrooms with interactive whiteboards:

Information from Rich White's Greenbush blog about Edusim:

Wikipedia entry:
"Edusim is a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment based concept of lesson driven 3D virtual worlds on the classroom interactive whiteboard or classroom interactive surface. The Edusim concept is demonstrated by the Edusim free and open source multi-user 3D Open Cobalt virtual world platform and authoring tool kit modified for the classroom interactive whiteboard or surface. The Edusim application is a modified edition of the open source Open Cobalt Project and relies heavily on the affordances of direct manipulation of 3D virtual learning models and Constructionist Learning Principles."

History of Edusim:
"The Edusim project began in September 2007 at the Greenbush Education Service Center in Southeast
Kansas as an effort to bring an engaging 3D experience to the classroom interactive whiteboard. Pilot groups were established with 6th and 7th grade middle school students throughout Southeast Kansas to observe how students would be engaged through the software, and how the user interface would need to be augmented to account for the affordances of the whiteboard, and the usability of the students.

Here is a virtual world in Edusim in COBALT, showing how a drag and drop function is used for in-world VNC application sharing:

The Cobalt 3D metaverse browser has been modified for multi-touch interaction by some of the members of RENCI, a collaborative venture of Duke University and several other North Carolina universities. The video below is Dr. Xunlei Wu, demonstrating how gesture and touch is used to manipulate items and navigate through two Cobalt virtual worlds:

Some of the members of RENCI built a multi-touch table in addition to the collaborative multi-touch wall. For more information:

RENCI: Multi-Touch Collaborative Wall and Table using TouchLib: More about UNC-C's Viz Lab

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Smart Table is Now Available for Purchase!

The Smart Table is now available for purchase!

Here is the plug:

"The world's first multitouch, multiuser table for primary education - the SMART Table - is now available for purchase.Order the SMART Table"

"As a collaborative learning center, the SMART Table enables engaging and motivating small-group learning experiences. Up to eight students can use their fingers intuitively to sweep, slide and spin objects on the interactive screen. The SMART Table's ready-made activities help primary students gain and further their skills in areas like counting and reading."

"The SMART Table also makes an ideal complement to whole-class activities on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. It helps reinforce concepts in a small-group setting and ensures students can participate in interactive and creative learning experiences."

(Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology and Technology-Supported Human-World Interaction blogs.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Gesturetek Health: "Interactive Technology & Virtual Reality Systems for Therapy & Rehabilitation" and RecreationVirtual Rehabilitation

Sensory WallFXImmersive Therapy SuiteMulti-Sensory WallSensory GroundFXMulti-Sensory Wall
(Pictures from the GestureTek website.)

Gesturetek's Health division has created a variety of interactive applications designed "... for the disability, hospital, mental health and education sectors. Our touch-free, motion-activated solutions for virtual reality physical therapy, multisensory stimulation and immersive play let patients (regardless of age, ability or condition) have fun in a hygienic environment and experience marked improvement in their physical and cognitive abilities.

Here are a few highlights:

Overview of some demos from GestureTek:

GestureTek Health and FlagHouse Announce Partnership to Bring Sensory Solutions to the Physically and Cognitively Challenged

GestureTek Videoclips

GestureTek Company Fact Sheet (pdf)

Note: Dean LaCoe, of GestureTek, will be presenting at the Interactive Displays 2009 Conference in April.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Update on Game Accessibility Resources

I posted information about game accessibility resources on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog:

Update on Accessibility and Interactive Games

Image of a girl sipping through a crazy straw - Joe Powell 2005.

The post is full of information, resources, and links from the IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group blog:

.IGDA Game Accessibility Special Interest Group

Friday, February 06, 2009

Potential School Dropout or Late Bloomer with High Potential - Do adult attitudes regarding struggling ninth grade students make a difference?

So often I see students in the ninth grade who are completely overwhelmed by the demands of of the "Big School". They soon find that they can not keep up with the rate and pace of work, and often failing key core courses. Some demonstrate increasingly disruptive behaviors and express their discontent in ways that rub teachers and administrator the wrong way.

As a school psychologist, I know that many of these students have hidden strengths and talents, but the curriculum they face does not match the way they learn.

What are the consequences of this problem? It isn't pretty.

Ninth grade students have the highest rate of failure in grade, detentions, expulsions, suspensions,
long-term alternative school placements, and school drop-out.

Despite various efforts to improve outcomes for high school students, things don't change from year to year. Cohort after cohort of teens follow the same path, and this is documented by similar statistics throughout most of the U.S.

The following chart shows what I mean. It outlines the average number of short term suspensions of students at various levels of the educational system in North Carolina from 2002-03 through 2006-07:

For more information about the problems young people face when entering the ninth grade, and links to some solutions, see the following post:

"Ninth Grade Tipping Point: What Happens in the First Year of High School Impacts Graduation and Dropout Rates"

For an interesting story about one man's personal experience as a late bloomer, take a look at
"Confessions of a Late Bloomer "
"We have fixed notions about the time course of success and the nature of talent that encourage us to write off the very people who are most likely to (eventually) change the world.
Scott Barry Kaufman
Psychology Today Nov/Dec 2008

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

End Mindless Notetaking! Engage Students! DyKnow Software - a tool for high school RTI?!

Take a look at this videoclip about DyKnow, an application developed to combat mindless note-taking and enhance classroom learning. Although the video demonstrates the benefits of this technology in a university classroom, it is clear to see that this would be a great asset in high school classes conducted in computer labs or have access to classroom sets of laptops.

The "retro" effect of this black-and white clip is entertaining.

DyKnow provides a means for teachers to control the way the laptop is used during class, which in a high school environment is important. Watch the DyKnow Monitor video to learn more about the features of this application, which includes a means of instant progress monitoring. The software provides for collaborative interaction between students and between the students and the teacher's work space.

In my opinion, this looks like it would be an effective resource in high schools that are adopting data-driven decision-making and Response to Intervention (RTI) models. It provides students - and teachers- with immediate feedback, and monitors progress electronically.

We know that most students do not learn best auditorily at the high school level, yet much of the high school curriculum is delivered through traditional means that involve lectures, note-taking, and some discussions. In this set up, it can be easy for some of the students to become disctracted in class, with lower grades and test scores as a consequence.

For many struggling students, traditional means of instruction opens the door for task avoidant behaviors and an increase in discipline events. They simply are not often fully engaged in the learning process.

Video: DyKnow in a high school setting: DyKnow in Action: Auburn City Schools

The DyKnow video highlights some of the ways that the curriculum be delivered in a more on-task, visual, and 'hands on" way that engages a higher percentage of students.

Article: High School Students, Teachers Learn Long-Term Benefits of Tablet PC's in the Classroom

If your school is using DyKnow, feel free to leave a comment about your thoughts!