Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Brain Series on Charlie Rose: The Perceiving Brain - Sight and Visual Perception

The November 24th airing of the second episode of Charlie Rose's The Brain Series, The Perceiving Brain, is currently on the front page of the Charlie Rose website. I couldn't find an embeddable version of this episode, but I was able to find the transcript, linked below:

Transcript: The Perceiving Brain
Charlie Rose Brain Series

"The Charlie Rose Brain Series explores one of sciences final frontiers, the study of the human brain.  Over the next year Charlie will interview the most knowledgeable scientists and researchers in hopes of illuminating a new topic of study. Each monthly episode will examine different subjects of the brain, including perception, social interaction, aging and creativity.

We will also look at scientific discovery and advances in technology, in the hope that someday terrible illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s will be history. Our special colleague on this journey is Dr. Eric Kandel.  He is a psychiatrist and neuroscientist and professor at Columbia University. He’s also affiliated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2000 for his research into the biological mechanisms of learning and memory."

The Charlie Rose Science Series, Part One: The Human Brain (Earlier version, from 2006)

Brain Disease

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Image Reveal" application for the SMART Table, by Vectorform.

The SMART Table from Smart Technologies now features the Image Reveal application, created by Vectorform, that supports multi-touch, multi-user collaborative learning activities for children. The Image Reveal is the first third-party application published for the SMART Table, and is available for free from the SMART website.

"Vectorform was eager to collaborate with SMART to create an early learning application for the SMART Table, which it feels is a groundbreaking technology product. Image Reveal enables young users to collaborate and answer a series of multiple choice questions in a chosen subject area. Each correct answer uncovers part of a hidden image until it is fully visible. Alternatively, students can guess what the hidden image is at any time to win the game. Using the SMART Table Toolkit, teachers can customize content, including subject area, hidden image, questions and answers, and use images to tailor questions and answers for pre-literate learners." -SMART Tech Press Release

SMART Table Introductory Video:

It is good news to see that SMART Technologies is providing new applications for the SMART Table. There is much room for growth in this field. However, the applications still have the look and feel of electronic workbooks,  with a few interactive media bells and whistles tossed in to ensure that the system appeals to young learners.  I wonder if the application supports teaching the skills needed for children to successfully work together, such turn-taking, negotiating with other children in a group situation, or settling differences of opinion.

Classrooms in elementary schools now contain a growing number of students who have autism spectrum disorders, as well as other disabilities that interfere with social interaction. For this reason, it would be important to learn if SMART Table applications follow the guidelines for Universal Design for Learning(UDL).


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

School Psychology Awareness Week

School psychologists promote positive possibilities and encourage gratitude towards others during National School Psychology Awareness Week—November 9–13, 2009

Bethesda, MD—The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has designated November 9–13, 2009 as National School Psychology Awareness Week. This year’s theme, “See the possibilities in you. We do!” seeks to shine a light on the positive work school psychologists do to promote the possibilities for academic and personal success in the lives of the students they serve. The program involves a series of resources and activities that school psychologists can use to reach out to school staff, students and parents to help students feel connected, supported, and ready to achieve their individual goals.

NASP represents more than 25,500 school psychologists who work in schools and other education and health settings. School psychologists work with parents and educators to ensure that every child has the mental health and learning support they need to succeed in school and life. This year’s program focuses promoting students’ positive attitudes and competence by highlighting student strengths and the many ways schools reinforce those strengths. Specifically, school psychologists will be recognizing students who make significant progress toward their goals through the “Student POWER Award” Program and honoring adult members of the school community who contribute in an outstanding way to improved outcomes for students through the “Possibilities in Action Partner” Program.

“Adults make many important contributions to the development of children. Seeing and advancing the possibilities within students, even in the face of difficulties, is critical to helping them achieve their best in school, at home, and in life.” says NASP President Patti Harrison. “Some people go above and beyond, making extraordinary efforts to promote students’ competencies, create opportunities for children to meet their goals, and expand schools’ capacity to foster success. We want to recognize these adults who are partners for ‘Possibilities in Action’ and have been admirable influences on the lives of children.”

Additionally this year, NASP is launching the “Gratitude Works” Program, an effort to have students around the country write letters of gratitude to someone who has made a difference in their life or the lives of others. The “Gratitude Works” Program seeks to reinforce students’ practice of gratitude as one of many prosocial behaviors that can foster individual resilience and well-being as well as contribute to overall positive school climate. Promoting positive attitudes, such as gratitude, helps students become more aware of the strengths in themselves and others. Research has revealed that children who feel and express gratitude express more positive views of both home and school and improve their academic performance.

School psychologists around the country are working with teachers to help students identify and honor school staff, family members, students, and other educators or community members who contribute to their ability to achieve their best. Some students are choosing to write letters of gratitude to people who they do not even know personally, such as military servicemen and women and emergency responders.

As part of National School Psychology Awareness Week, NASP has developed downloadable and adaptable resources to help school psychologists participate in these programs. Further information on these programs, school psychologists and the contribution they make in guiding student success is available online at

For further information contact NASP Director of Marketing and Communications, Kathy Cowan at (301) 347-1665 or, or visit

Ready to Learn, Empowered to Teach, Excellence in Education for the 21st Century: National Association of School Psychologists' Guiding Principles for Effective Education


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Technology and Mental Health Research at Trinity College Dublin: Supporting Teens through Mental Health Games & Mobile Apps

In my last post, I mentioned some of the work in technology and mental health by researchers at Trinity College.  PlayWrite is a system that is designed for mental health professionals to create and adapt 3D computer games designed for therapeutic activities with teens, and can incorporate a variety of treatment approaches. In includes a dialogue builder that can incorporate written and spoken questions.  PlayWrite can also be used to adapt exisiting games.

The Personal Investigator game was created using PlayWrite and provides solution-focused conversational strategies that are mapped onto various game areas. The game is available tor trial purposes for use by mental health professionals and researchers.  You can request a trial by contacting Dr. Gavin Doherty:  Gavin.Doherty at

Coyle, D., Matthews, M., Sharry, J., Nisbet, A., & Doherty, G. (2005). Personal Investigator: A Therapeutic 3D Game for Adolescent Psychotherapy. International Journal of Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 2, 73-88

As a school psychologist,  I'd like to have a chance to work with the above applications.  Even more, I'd like to try out two applications that the Trinity College team designed for use on mobile phones,  My Mobile Story and Mobile Mood Diary.

I think this concept would work.  Why?

In my observations of students in high school classrooms, I've recently come across the phenomenon of students texting on their cell phones, underneath their desks, without looking,  out of sight of the teacher, but not out-of-sight of an observant school psychologist!

Matthews, M., Doherty, G., Sharry, J., & Fitzpatrick, C. (2008). Mobile Phone Mood Charting for Adolescents. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 36(2), 113-129.

(I'll post more about this soon.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Multi-User Virtual Environments for Kids, Teens, & College Students

A while ago, I wrote a post, Interactive Multimedia for Social Skills, Understanding Feelings, Relaxation, and Coping Strategies, that continues to get hits from readers looking for on-line social skills resources.  Since that post, there has been a growing interest in the use of multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) and related interactive games for children, teens, and young adults.  MUVEs appear to have the potential to help young people develop important social skills, such as cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.

In this post, I'll focus on Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) and also take a look at 3D game/virtual world environments designed to support social/communication skills and mental health. 

Whyville was one of the first virtual environments for children, established in 1999.  It is currently sponsored by the Center for Disease Control, the Getty Museum, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Whyville Virtual World Tour (2008)

Everything Whyville!

Quest Atlantis was created by Sasha Barab, the Jacobs Chair in Learning Sciences, Indiana University.  In classroom settings, students work together on computers as a team to learn science, math, reading, and writing in a game-based virtual environment. The following video is from the Learning Channel. Sasha Barab, Beth Spataro, a teacher, and students discuss their experiences with Quest Atlantis at the Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, North Carolina. 

Virtual Mesa Verde

"The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has granted more than $1.8 million to the Indiana University School of Education to expand the immersive learning environment "Quest Atlantis."...Sasha Barab, associate professor and Jacobs Chair in Learning Sciences and Instructional Systems Technology and the director of the Center for Research on Learning and Technology, created the Quest Atlantis project. It is a learning and teaching tool for students ages 9-12 that uses a 3-D, multiuser environment to immerse children in educational tasks."
Quest Atlantis Research Site
IJLM International Journal of Learning and Media (beta) Transformational Play and Virtual Worlds: Worked Examples From The Quest Atlantis Project
Conceptual Play 
Learning Gains
Thomas, M.K., Barab, S.A., Tuzun, H.  Developing Critical Implementations of Technology-Rich Innovations: A Cross-Case Study of the Implementation of Quest Atlantis (pdf)  J.Educational Computing Research, 41(2) pp. 125-153, 2009.
Barab, S. A., Gresalfi, M., & Arici, A. (2009).Why Educators Should Care About GamesEducational Leadership 67(1), pp. 76-80.
Barab, S., Thomas, M., Dodge, T., Carteaux, R., & Tuzun, H. (2005). Making Learning Fun: Quest Atlantis, A Game Without Guns (pdf) Educational Technology Research and Development, (53)1, 86-107
EcoMUVE is an ecosystems science curriculum for middle school students that is an outgrowth of the River City project developed by Chris Dede and his colleagues at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 

Video of an early build of EcoMUVE
River City Research
Metcalf, S. J., Clarke, J. and Dede, C. (2009) Virtual Worlds for Education: River City and EcoMUVE,(pdf) Media In Transition International Conference, MIT, April 24-26, 2009, Cambridge, MA.

NASA MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online)
The Technology Transfer and Partnerships Office

Astronaut:  Moon, Mars and Beyond

"The power of games as educational tools is rapidly gaining recognition. NASA is in a position to develop an online game that functions as a persistent, synthetic environment supporting education as a laboratory, a massive visualization tools and collaborative workspace while simultaneously drawing users into a challenging, game-play immersion...Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond will be a 'first-person-exploration' game that will also include traditional role-playing game (RPG) elements for both single-player and team-based space exploration, but with a realistic twist. Everything in the game will be crafted based on real NASA technology, as well as on prototypes from esteemed academic institutions for the next generation of robotics, spacecraft, spacesuits and space habitation...The game will allow players to utilize the latest technology from Big Stage, which enables photos to be transformed into virtual avatars. Players will be able to see themselves within the game world, if they so desire, or else use the game's editor to create their own characters." -John Gaudiosi, Big Downloads First Look at NASA's Unreal Engine 3 based MMO

Learning Technologies NASA STEM Learning MMO Games Plan (pdf)
Overview of the GSFC Integrated Design Center (IDC) Including the Mission Design Lab(MDL) and the Instrument Design Lab (IDL) (pdf)

EduSim has evolved since I last featured it on this blog.  According to the EduSim website, maintained by Rich White, EduSim is a 3D multi-user virtual world and authoring toolkit designed for use on classroom interactive whiteboards, but also used on laptops and desktop computers.  The application is a version of the core Open Cobalt Metaverse Project

"Edusim has been tested and works on the Smartboard, Activeboard, Interwriter, Polyvision, Mimio, eBeam, and even the Wiimote Whiteboard. Edusim is extendable allowing multiple classrooms to connect their interactive whiteboards for collaborative learning session. Edusim as a concept seeks to model a new we to engage student through "immersive touch" by leveraging 3D virtual environments on the interactive surface or classroom interactive whiteboard."

Constance Steinkuehler is an educational researcher who focuses on massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds from the perspective of learning sciences and new literacy studies.  She's an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is affiliated with the UW-Madison Games, Learning & Society (GLS) group.

According to a post on the Massively website, "Steinkuehler has announced that she's got the Nation Academy of Education / Spencer Post-Doctorial Fellowship to do a cognitive ethnography on RuneScape. The study aims to show the educational merit of games designed for and played by youths instead of adults, which is what is typically studied, and to examine the impact of gameplay on their everyday lives, social relationships and school work...Cognitive ethnography is used to study the processes that effect the work carried out within a setting, whilst noting the effect of the material world and social context of the actions and social practices carried out. To put it in a simpler way, it studies how the social norms and social structures are created for a group of people who share a common culture, in this case RuneScapeplayers. You can read her proposal abstract over at her blog." -Jon Shute

World of Warcraft in School 
To get an idea of how World of Warcraft can be used, take a look at this video that was produced by members of the Virtual Worlds department at AFTRS, Australia's national screen arts and broadcast school.
Skateboarding for Real in World of Warcraft

World of WarcraftIntergenerational WoW Study, Focus on At-Risk Youth
Jason Allaire, a gamer and psychology professor at NC State, has a proposal to involve 100 high school students considered to be "at-risk" in an after-school program, with mentors, aged 60 years old or older. Jason is involved in the Gains Through Gaming Lab, a collaboration between NCSU and Georgia Tech.  

I haven't posted about Second Life in a long while.  There is quite a bit of catching up to do. Here is a short introduction to Second Life, using a garden as a metaphor:

Teen Second Life - Info from the Teen Second Life Wiki:

"The Teen Second Life was created to provide a safe place for education projects for those 13-17 years old. Unlike main Second Life, in the Teen Second Life, Linden Lab significantly restricts entry, purchase of land, and activities to those that support the education projects in Teen Second Life...Linden Lab only allows adults (anyone 18 and older) in the Teen Second Life who have had a background check completed, and who are either educators responsible for an education project in the Teen Second Life, developers assisting in the development of projects in the Teen Second Life, or the person responsible for managing activities on business islands in the Teen Second Life...Adults and businesses in Teen Second Life do not have any access to the Teen Second Life Mainland (Teen Second Life); that area is reserved exclusively for Teens."

Teen Second Life and the Field Museum
According to information from Vimeo, Teens in Chicago and New York went digging for fossils in Zambia this summer, without leaving home, thanks to a technology enhanced science camp run by Chicago’s Field Museum in partnership with Global Kids. Watch the video produced by Ben Wolff.

I Dig from Spotlight on Vimeo.
Global Kids

Global Kids' Digital Media Initiative

University Applications of Second Life
Claudia Kimbrough used Second Life in two College of Management courses at North Carolina State University, part of the Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment (LITRE) research program.  These courses were taught in 2007.

Virtually Online Learning and Teaching (VOLT)

Second Life in Nursing Education
The video below demonstrates a patient simulation in the virtual world of Second Life by MUVErs,  used in nursing courses,  with funding from University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Accelerated BSN program.
Medical Simulation in the Virtual World of Second Life

Multi-touch Second Life - 100" screen with modules for sensing, integrated with opensim client.

100" Multi touch screen with Second Life from junhee, yeo on Vimeo
The following video shows how the above system works with Zentitum Wonder Island:

100" MultiTouch System with Zenitum Wonder Island from junhee, yeo on Vimeo.
IMG512 is the Interactive Media Group of Zenitum Entertainment Computing, in Seoul, Korea. The team  focuses on interaction and user interface design, including multi-touch, gesture, and other means of physical computing.  

Milton Broome is Simon Bignell's Second Life avatar. In real life, Simon Bignell is a psychologist who lectures at the University of Derby in the UK.  His current research is a project that is looking at the effectiveness of using the Second Life platform to support people who have been diagnosed with high-functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, focusing on social/communication skills. 
Bignell, S.J. (2009). Psychology on Second Life? Learning, Support and Research in 3D Online Multi-user Virtual Environments. Keynote Lecture at McCord Museum. International Conference on the Use of the Internet in Mental Health, McGill University, Canada.
Bignell, S.J. (2009). Teaching and Learning in Online Virtual Worlds. Invited Talk. International Conference on the Use of the Internet in Mental Health, McGill UniversityCanada. May 2009. Videocast:

David Coyle, PI and PlayWrite
David Coyle is a research fellow with the Computer Science Department at Trinity College who designs technology to support mental health interventions.

Personal Investigator(PI)
Personal Investigator is a 3D game designed for teens that implements Solution Focused Therapy.
PlayWrite "is a system which allows mental health care professionals to create and adapt therapeutic 3D computer games, which can then be used in adolescent mental health interventions."
Coyle, D., Doherty, G., & Sharry, J. (2009). An Evaluation of a Solution Focused Computer Game in Adolescent Interventions.Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry14(3) pp345-360
Coyle, D., & Doherty, G. (2009). Clinical evaluations and collaborative design: developing new technologies for mental healthcare interventions. ACM CHI'09 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. pp.2051-2060.
Coyle, D., Doherty, G. (2008) Designing Adaptable Technologies for Talk-Based Mental Health Interventions (pdf). ACM CHI'09 Technology in Mental Health worksop
Coyle, D., Doherty, G., Sharry, J., & Matthews, M. (2007). Computers in Talk-Based Mental Health Care. Interacting with Computers, 19(4), pp.545-562. (abstract)
Coyle, D., Doherty, G., & Sharry, J. (2005). Adaptable Computer Gaming for Adolescent Psychotherapy - Extended Abstract.CyberPsychology and Behavior, 8(4), pp.311-312.
Coyle, D., Matthews, M., Sharry, J., Nisbet, A., & Doherty, G. (2005). Personal Investigator: A Therapeutic 3D Game for Adolescent Psychotherapy. International Journal of Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 2, 73-88. Preprint (PDF).

CITEd Resources
Learning with Computer Games and Simulations
Multi-User Virtual Environments for Education
Multimedia Instruction of Social Skills

Friday, November 06, 2009

Human-Computer Interaction & Education: CHI 2010 Workshop on UI Technology and Educational Pedagogy

The 28th CHI 2010 (ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) will be held from April 10-15 2010 in Atlanta, GA.  The Workshop on UI Technology & Educational Pedagogy will be one of several workshops held during the conference.

Info from the workshop's website:
Given the exponential growth of interactive whiteboards in classrooms around the world, there has been a need to explore how next generation HCI will impact education in the future. Educators are depending on the interaction communities to deliver technologies that will improve/adapt learning to an ever-changing world.
In addition to novel UI concepts, the HCI community needs to examine how these concepts can be matched to contemporary paradigms in Educational pedagogy. The classroom is a challenging environment for evaluation, thus new techniques need to be established to prove the value of new HCI interactions in the Educational space. This workshop provides a forum to discuss key HCI issues facing next generation education.
We invite authors to present position papers about potential design challenges and perspectives on how the community should handle the next generation of HCI in education. Topics of interest include:
  • Gestural input, multitouch, large displays
  • Mobile Devices, response systems (clickers)
  • Tangible, VR, AR & MR, Multimodal interfaces
  • Console gaming, 3D input devices
  • Co-located interaction, presentations
  • Educational Pedagogy, learner-centric
  • Empirical methods, case studies
  • Multi-display interaction
Submission:  The deadline for workshop paper submissions is January 6th, 2010. Interested researchers should submit a 4-page position paper in the ACM CHI Extended Abstract Format to the workshop management system. Acceptance notifications were sent out March 15, 2010. The workshop will be held April 11, 2010 in Atlanta, USA. Please note that at least one author of an accepted position paper must register for the workshop and for one or more days of the CHI 2010 conference. 
Workshop Contact:  Edward Tse  edwardtse [at] SMART Technologies

Johannes Schöning

Yvonne Rogers
Pervasive Computing Laboratory
The Open University

Chia ShenScientists Discovery Room
School of Engineering and
Applied Sciences
Harvard University
SMART Technologies


Learning Through Touch (pdf) -SMART Technologies

November 23-25, Banff, Canada

(Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Eric Sailers' "Bling Your Blog" Presentation: How to use Web 2.0 to spice up a blog.

Eric Sailers is a speech-language pathologist and assistive technology specialist in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District in San Diago, CA. He's ahead of the pack when it comes to embracing emerging collaborative and interactive technologies in education. Eric recently shared his presentation, "Bling Your Blog" on SlideShare. The presentation is an overview of how to incorporate Web 2.0 technology into blogging.

Below are links to a few things discussed in the presentation:

Glogster: "Poster Yourself"
Interactive Calendar Poster by a Glogster

Voicethread (Collaborative digital storytelling.  The Ed. VoiceThread is a secure K-12 network.)

Web 2.0 Guru (Web 2.0 Resources for 21st Century Instruction)

100 Awesome, Free Web Tools for Elementary Teachers

Eric Sailers' Blog

(Cross posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.)