Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cobo Cards: On-line Collaborative Flashcards

"Cobocards are virtually created flashcards. You can print them and study offline, edit them again and again, compare with older versions, check the status of your knowledge, upload pictures and graphs, include formula with LaTeX, share your flashcards with friends, set a deadline for exams,..."

You can create a free account at the Cobocards website, and also watch the guided tour.

Revisiting the CITEd Website: Center for Implementing Technology in Education

The CITEd Research Center has expanded a bit since my last visit. It is worth the time to browse around the site.

"CITEd's Research Center offers evidence-based, promising, and emerging practices based on the latest research. Explore how technology can be used to enhance instruction with an emphasis on students with special needs. Browse research and its implications for your classroom, school, and district."

You can now follow CITEd on Twitter.

Here is a sample of the topics and related resources from the CITEd site:

Multimedia Instruction of Social Skills

Learning with Computer Games and Simulations

Universal Design for Learning in a Digital Multimedia Environment

Using Technology to Support Diverse Learners

Technology to Support Writing

Data Systems and Data-Driven Decision Making

Technology to Assess Student Progress

Evidence-Based Practices

Types of Learners

If you have the time, you can take an on-line course, "Differentiating Instruction", through CITEd, via AIRlearning. The course is free, an you can sign-in as a guest.


"Each product in the TechMatrix has features that assist students with special needs. For example, products that read text aloud help students with visual impairments and learning disabilities."

The resources included in the TECHMATRIX are also organized by learning supports across all subject areas.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Black Briefcase, a school psychologist's blog..."I didn't know there were people in the building (school) who didn't know how to turn on the computer"

The Black Briefcase blog is written by a school psychologist who writes about "true tales from a School Psychologist. An ongoing monologue about the state of education and what's really happening inside our schools."

I especially liked this post:

Land of the Luddites

"Maybe Luddite is too strong of a word. Technologically naive seems more appropriate. I've been on a crusade to get people in my school to embrace basic technology: email, web-based programs, word processing programs, i.e., nothing fancy. As I've been trying to educate others I've noticed the different levels of technology naivete that people have in my building. My district, like many others in the nation, has moved towards using a web-based program for writing IEPs. The problem has been that only two people out of 6 are comfortable enough with the program to complete an IEP. Everyone else has expressed their trepidation towards using the computer. One of the drawbacks is that the entry fields do not appear as they do within an IEP so that those who are used to completing them by hand do not know what they are looking at on the computer...." -Black Briefcase

This sounds a lot like the EasyIEP program that was adopted by my school district this year! It doesn't map to the real world, and for teachers who aren't used to doing more than sending e-mail, the application can be quite daunting.

Black Briefcase goes on to provide a couple of examples that shed light on why technology is lagging in many many classrooms:

"The last week, I've experienced two different eye-opening moments on the vast technological divide that exists in my school. Those on the inexperienced end amaze me. I was asked by a co-worker how to attach a file to an email. I thought that was the lowest, but that was beaten the next day. I was sitting in my office when I got an internal call from another room. A teacher was on the other line and she asked me if I had turned off the computer when I used it in the lab. I used the lab when I taught my coworkers how to use the web-based program last week. I guess I turn off the computer out of habit; I was finished using it so it seemed like the thing to do. I didn't know that there were people in the building that didn't know how to turn on the computer. So I figured it must have been something complex. I went to the lab to see what was wrong. The LCD projector was working so that was one less problem to deal with, but the screen was black. I thought that maybe something was unplugged and when I looked at the computer, I realized that it wasn't on. I pressed the button on the CPU and the computer sprang to life. It couldn't have been that easy, I figured that I would have to do something more than that. Well it appeared that the teacher was pressing the wrong button. Instead of the on/off switch she was pressing the button that opens the CPU. If you're familiar with old Dell computers then you know what I'm talking about. She was pressing the wrong button and couldn't understand why it wouldn't turn on. That was a new one for me. I thought I had seen it all until that moment.
" -Black Briefcase

One of Black Briefcase's solutions to address the "luddite" phenomenon is to share tech tips from David Pogue's New York Times blog post. That is a great idea!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Deric Bownds' Mindblog

I came across Deric Bownds' Mindblog via Kevin McGrew's blog today. Deric is a professor at the University of Wisconsin, where he is the director of the Program in the Biology of Mind. He is also the author of the book, Biology of Mind. The book serves as the textbook for a multi-disciplinary course, "Psychology, Anthropology, Neuroscience, and Zoology".

There are a few treasures to be found on the online resources for the book and course!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Educational iPod Touch Apps for Students and Teachers: Eric Sailers' blog

Eric Sailers is a speech and language pathologist and assisted technology specialist who explores new technologies that he's found useful in the schools. Below is Eric's demonstration of applications such as "I Write Words", Wikipanion, Preschool Adventure, Twitterific, Google Mobile, and the calendar.

To demonstrate the iPod Touch,Eric uses the Elmo document camera that projects onto a screen. Note that as Eric demonstrates the Twitterific application, , he navigates to a link to a blog of one of his colleagues, which highlights the way one school is using the Wii as an augmentive communication tool and also an assessment tool for occupational therapy.

Take some time to explore Eric's Speech-Language Pathology Sharing blog. It is full of great information!

Update: Here are two video clips Eric created to prepare for an interview as a finalist for the Cox Communication Innovation in Special Education award. In one of the videos, Eric discusses the EduSim application, a 3D multi-user virtual world platform and authoring toolkit intended for classroom interactive whiteboards.

Interactive Applications for Special Education: Wiimote Whiteboards and iPod Touch in Special Education, Part I

Wiimote Whiteboards and iPod Touch in Special Education, Part II

A teacher explores the multi-touch, multi-user SMARTtable in his classroom

From what I can see, multi-touch, multi-user applications are ideal for students to learn collaborative, cooperative social skills at the same time they learn academic skills. Smart Technologies, well-known in the education world for interactive whiteboards, has unleashed a few tables, known as SMARTTables, in classrooms. One teacher, Tom Barret, is sharing his journey with technology, including the SMARTtable, on-line via his blog, SPACE FOR ME TO EXPLORE

The following is a video of young children doing math on a multi-touch SMARTTable. In order to solve the finger- arithmetic problems, the students must work cooperatively

Addition App - Set to multi-touch finger counts from Tom Barrett on Vimeo.

(In the video, you will see some shapes that Tom mistakenly added, so disregard them as you view the video.)

Here is a quote from Tom's blog about his experience with the addition application:

"I was most pleased with the level of engagement from the children and although on the surface this seems to be a simple application, it definitely requires a level of teamwork that you often do not get.

It is intriguing watching the children’s first attempts and how they realise they need to work together. As the challenge is small scale, once they have been successful they begin to refine their approach, communicate better and so get to later answers quicker."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Michael Haller Discusses Multi-touch, Interactive Surfaces, and Emerging Technologies for Learning

I came across an excellent overview of interactive display technologies that hold promise for education. The link below is a research article written by Michael Haller for BECTA, formally known as the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency.

Emerging Technologies for Learning: Interactive Displays and Next Generation Interfaces(pdf)
Becta Research Report (2008) Michael Haller Volume 3 (2008)

"Multi-touch and interactive surfaces are becoming more interesting, because they allow a natural and intuitive interaction with the computer system.

These more intuitive and natural interfaces could help students to be more actively involved in working together with content and could also help improve whole-class teaching activities. As these technologies develop, the barrier of having to learn and work with traditional computer interfaces may diminish.

It is still unclear how fast these interfaces will become part of our daily life and how long it will take for them to be used in every classroom. However, we strongly believe that the more intuitive the interface is, the faster it will be accepted and used. There is a huge potential in these devices, because they allow us to use digital technologies in a more human way." -Michael Haller

Michael Haller works at the department of Digital Media of the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences (Hagenberg, Austria), where he is the head of the Media Interaction Lab.

Michael co-organized the Interaction Tomorrow course at SIGGRAPH 2007, along with Chia Shen, of the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL). Lecturers included Gerald Morrison, of Smart Technologies, Bruce H. Thomas, of the University oof Southern Australia, and Andy Wilson, of Microsoft Research. The course materials from Interaction Tomorrow are available on-line, and include videos, slides, and course notes.

Below is an excerpt from the discription of the Interaction Tomorrow SIGGRAPH 2007 course:

"Conventional metaphors and underlying interface infrastructure for single-user desktop systems have been traditionally geared towards single mouse and keyboard-based WIMP interface design, while people usually meet around a table, facing each other. A table/wall setting provides a large interactive visual surface for groups to interact together. It encourages collaboration, coordination, as well as simultaneous and parallel problem solving among multiple people.

In this course, we will describe particular challenges and solutions for the design of direct-touch tabletop and interactive wall environments. The participants will learn how to design a non-traditional user interface for large horizontal and vertical displays. Topics include physical setups (e.g. output displays), tracking, sensing, input devices, output displays, pen-based interfaces, direct multi-touch interactions, tangible UI, interaction techniques, application domains, current commercial systems, and future research."
It is worth taking the time to look over Haller's other publications. Here is a few that would be good to read:

M. Haller, C. Forlines, C. Koeffel, J. Leitner, and C. Shen, 2009. "Tabletop Games: Platforms, Experimental Games and Design Recommendations." Springer, 2009. in press [bibtex]

A. D. Cheok, M. Haller, O. N. N. Fernando, and J. P. Wijesena, 2009.
"Mixed Reality Entertainment and Art," International Journal of Virtual Reality, vol. X, p. X, 2009. in press [bibtex]

J. Leitner, C. Köffel, and M. Haller, 2009. "Bridging the gap between real and virtual objects for tabletop games," International Journal of Virtual Reality, vol. X, p. X, 2009. in press [bibtex]

M. Haller and M. Billinghurst, 2008.
"Interactive Tables: Requirements, Design Recommendations, and Implementation." IGI Publishing, 2008. [bibtex]

D. Leithinger and M. Haller, 2007. "Improving Menu Interaction for Cluttered Tabletop Setups with User-Drawn Path Menus," Horizontal Interactive Human-Computer Systems, 2007. TABLETOP 07. Second Annual IEEE International Workshop on, pp. 121-128, 2007. [bibtex]

J. Leitner, J. Powell, P. Brandl, T. Seifried, M. Haller, B. Dorray, and P. To, 2009."Flux: a tilting multi-touch and pen based surface," in CHI EA 09: Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, New York, NY, USA, 2009, pp. 3211-3216. [bibtex]

P. Brandl, J. Leitner, T. Seifried, M. Haller, B. Doray, and P. To, 2009. "Occlusion-aware menu design for digital tabletops," in CHI EA 09: Proceedings of the 27th international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, New York, NY, USA, 2009, pp. 3223-3228. [bibtex]

References from the BECTA paper:

Elrod, S., Bruce, R., Gold, R., Goldberg, D., Halasz, F., Janssen, W., Lee, D., Mc-Call, K., Pedersen, E., Pier, F., Tang, J., and Welch, B., Liveboard: a large interactive display supporting group meetings, presentations, and remote collaboration, CHI ’92 (New York, NY, USA), ACM Press, 1992, pp. 599–607.

Morrison, G., ‘A Camera-Based Input Device for Large Interactive Displays’, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 52-57, Jul/Aug, 2005.

Albert, A. E. The effect of graphic input devices on performance in a cursor positioning task. Proceedings ofthe Human Factors Society 26th Annual Meeting, Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors Society, 1982, pp. 54-58.

Dietz, P.H., Leigh, D.L., DiamondTouch: A Multi-User Touch Technology, ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST), ISBN: 1-58113-438-X, pp. 219-226, November 2001.

Rekimoto, J., SmartSkin: An Infrastructure for Freehand Manipulation on Interactive Surfaces,
CHI 2002, 2002.

Kakehi, Y., Iida, M., Naemura, T., Shirai, Y., Matsushita, M.,Ohguro, T., ‘Lumisight Table: Interactive View-Dependent Tabletop Display Surrounded by Multiple Users’, In IEEE Computer
Graphics and Applications, vol. 25, no.1, pp 48 – 53, 2005.

Streitz, N., Prante, P., Röcker, C., van Alphen, D., Magerkurth, C.,Stenzel, R., ‘Ambient Displays and Mobile Devices for the Creation of Social Architectural Spaces: Supporting informal communication and social awareness in organizations’ in Public and Situated Displays: Social and Interactional Aspects of Shared Display Technologies, Kluwer Publishers, 2003. pp. 387-409.

Morrison, G., A Camera-Based Input Device for Large Interactive Displays, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 52-57, Jul/Aug, 2005.

Ishii, H., Underkoffler, J., Chak, D., Piper, B., Ben-Joseph, E., Yeung, L. and Zahra, K., Augmented Urban Planning Workbench: Overlaying Drawings, Physical Models and Digital Simulation. IEEE and ACM International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality ACM Press, Darmstadt, Germany.

Han, Y., Low-cost multi-touch sensing through frustrated total internal reflection, UIST ’05 (New York), ACM Press, 2005, pp. 115–118.

Hull., J., Erol, B., Graham, J., Ke, Q., Kishi, H., Moraleda, J., Olst, D., Paper-Based Augmented Reality. In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Artificial Reality and Telexistence (Esbjerg, Denmark,November 28-30, 2007). ICAT ’07. IEEE, 205-209.

Haller, M., Leithinger, D., Leitner, J., Seifried, T., Brandl, P., Zauner, J., Billinghurst, M., The shared design space. In SIGGRAPH ’06: ACM SIGGRAPH 2006 Emerging technologies, page 29, New York, NY,USA, 2006. ACM Press.

Research email:
Main email:

(This was also posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Technology and Children and Teens with Asthma: The Vena Wireless Asthma Inhaler

Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S.

According to the American Lung Association, "
Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness of children in the U.S. In 2006, an estimated 6.8 million children under age 18 (almost 1.2 million under age 5) currently had asthma, 4.1 million of which had an asthma attack, and many others have "hidden" or undiagnosed asthma. In 2006, the highest current prevalence rate was seen in those 5-17 years of age (106.3 per 1,000 population), with rates decreasing with age. Overall, the rate in those under 18 (92.8 per 1,000) was much greater than those over 18 (72.4 per 1,000). Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15 and one of the most common causes of school absenteeism."

Technology is here to help combat these statistics.

According to a recent CNET article written by Dong Ngo, Cambridge Consultants is offering a wireless asthma inhaler that links patients with health care providers via wireless technologies and electronic medical records
such as Google Health or Microsoft Health Vault.

"The platform, called Vena, employs two emerging wireless standards, including the Infrared-based IEEE11073 and the Bluetooth Medical Device Profile. Vena embeds the two into a single chip as the combination of them ensures compatibility of data exchanged between different types of devices and the security in the transmitting of medical data."

Design Matters


The design of the Vena inhaler is stylish, and I'm sure that children and teens with asthma wouldn't mind carrying this around at school.

A less-attractive alternative for the connected teen is the bulkier prototype, a collaboration between SiliconSky GPS and David Van Sickle, a University of Wisconsin researcher. One major problem with this prototype is the design. How many teens would want to flash this thing around?

According to another CNET article by Dong Ngo, "
The prototype GPS inhaler is packed with technologies. It features Assisted GPS, a GSM modem, integral antennas, an embedded microprocessor, and an internal rechargeable lithium ion battery. The battery allows for up to 10 days of operation between charges."

The GPS inhaler might be useful and usable, but will not used as medically intended unless it has a great "look & feel".

With the increase in the numbers of children and teens with asthma, it is important to design on-the-go medical devices that increase compliance and healthy choices. It has to be cool.

Some references from the American Lung Association:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey Raw Data, 2006. Analysis by the American Lung Association, Research and Program Services Division using SPSS and SUDAAN

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy Youth! Health Topics: Asthma. December 7, 2007. Available here.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy Youth! Health Topics: Asthma. December 7, 2007. Available here. Accessed on December 20, 2007.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics, Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics. The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980-2005. Number 381, December 12, 2006 (Revised December 29, 2006). Available here. Accessed on December 20, 2007.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Classroom 2.0 has more than 22,000 members!

Classroom 2.0 is a fantastic on-line community of over 22,000 members who are interested in the use of collaborative technologies in education. Many of the members maintain blogs, either on the Classroom 2.0 website or independently. Classroom 2.0 offers a range of resources, including a wiki, "how-to" information and links, free live workshops, and a forum. Members are provided with their own page and blog space.

One of the great things about Classroom 2.0 is that the members are quick to share links to great resources. If you are just beginning to explore collaborative and emerging technologies, this on-line community is a great place to start!

Also take a look at Steve Hargadon's blog. "K-12 Educational Technology: Web 2.0, Free and Open Source Software, and the Future of Education." Steve is the founder of Classroom 2.0

Another good resource is the International Edublogger's Directory. The directory was created by Patricia Donaghy, in January 2008, after she responded to a Classroom 2.0 thread I started at the time, "Let's Share Links to our Blogs!". The thread is still active.

Patricia Donaghy's Blogs:
Using ICT in Further Education
Free Resources for Education