Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Thoughts while updating my "Mega-List of Resources and References: Technology, Psychology, Intervention & Prevention"

On August 1st, 2006, I posted my "Mega-List of Resources and References: Technology, Psychology, Intervention & Prevention".   At that time, I had taken only a few computer courses, such as game design/development, beginning programming, internet/computer multimedia, etc.  Since then, I've been collecting more resources- some scholarly, some not.

If you are new to this blog, here is a little history:

Not long after I posted my 2006 "Mega List", I watched Jeff Han's TED Talk video of his multi-touch table, and I was bitten by the bug.  I knew immediately that I had to have something just like it, and I knew that it would be great for use at work.  As a school psychologist, I have provided group activities for "at-risk" students and students with special needs, and most often, around a table.  That led me to focus my projects on large display/surface interaction in some of my subsequent computer courses.  I joined the NUI-Group in 2007 because I wanted to build my own table. Unfortunately, there was little time left at the end of the semester to do so- my team mates were also pretty busy.

Three years later:
I can't believe that I have a multi-touch table, a SMARTTable, at one of my schools, just three years after wanting to build my own. I have all sorts of design ideas for tabletop applications, but little time to implement them, as I still work full time as a school psychologist.  (Some of my references and resources will focus on this aspect of my tech journey.)

I'm hoping that the next wave of educational technology will have more of an impact than the last wave.  In my opinion, much of what I've seen has been more of the same stuff that was around in the 1980's and 1990's - electronic worksheets dressed up with electronic bells and whistles.  

With the ever-spreading 1:1 laptop initiatives, I predict that the dressed-up "skill and drill" applications will morph just a bit and pretend that they are perfect for meeting the needs of 21st Century Learners, even though 21st Century Learners should be learning how to work cooperatively and collaboratively in groups, and focus on learning activities that stimulate deep understanding of concepts.... As some of my colleagues say, "worksheets don't grow dendrites",  1:1 skill-and drill applications, masquerading as 21st Century learning tools, probably won't grow many dendrites, either!  
Most of the young people I've known over the years were strong visual thinkers. They love movies and video games.  They often are artistic or musical.  They don't like to sit still and listen for long when teachers present information through lectures and discussions. 

If you are a school psychologist, you know this type of student.  They do really well on spatial reasoning and non-verbal reasoning subtests.   They don't do so well on measures of short term auditory memory or short-term auditory working memory.    What this means is that in a nice, quiet testing environment, without distractions, they can barely remember number sequences, and stumble when asked to repeat short sentences and passages.  If you happen to administer a cognitive test, like the WISC-IV, during some of the verbal sub-tests,  they will forget what you just asked them, or even forget what they were going to say.   Sometimes you know they know it, but they just can retrieve the information from long-term verbal memory.  If you administer the WJ-III cognitive assessment, they often will perform poorly on the Cognitive Efficiency cluster,  and as a result, will receive an overall cognitive score that is more of a reflection of their short-term memory and attention difficulties than their ability to reason and think at a higher, more abstract level.

Some of these students have difficulty with taking notes, especially from the board.  They often can't locate important information from their textbooks.  You can spot this type of student right away.  They are still flipping through textbook pages as the teacher moves forward with the lesson or directions.   Sometimes they don't even realize what they are supposed to be doing, so they just sit there. The teachers and parents of these students will tell you that anything they say "goes in one ear and out the other".  

My fear is that electronic work-book applicatons(dressed up with 21st century bells and whistles) bundled with 1:1 laptops will be welcomed by many teachers.  This approach will fit right in with teachers who have a fondness for worksheets, but don't like having to check so many papers.   The laptop/electronic workbook will fit right in to this sort of pedagogy. (I am not against a little bit of skill and drill supported by a worksheet or two, electronic or otherwise, by the way.)
Here is a blurb for a 2001 product from School Zone that is an example of my point:

  • "School Zone Interactive’s award-winning Electronic Workbook CD-ROM series is being heralded by teachers nationwide for its refreshing back-to-basics approach to educational software for children. Based on School Zone Publishing’s top-selling workbook content, which has been trusted by teachers for over twenty years, Electronic Workbooks provide a prodigious amount of educational content adorned with entertaining games and delightful animations for children ages 2-12."  Current examples:  School Zone Third Grade Software List

In a way, the electronic workbook-on-a-laptop method of instruction doesn't have to be just skill-and-drill.  There are some advantages to this approach, especially if you consider applications that incorporate an adaptive feature.  One good example of this the Wayang Outpost, an application that does go beyond skill-and-drill. This application is accessed via the internet:

"Funded by several research programs at the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of EducationWayang Outpost is state-of-the-art technology designed to increase standardized test scores and help teachers in their assessment of students' strengths. Wayang Outpost is designed to learn along with the student. As the student progresses though the math problem presented, Wayang Outpost adjusts instruction, using individualized strategies that are effective for each student. It is available free to teachers, schools, after-school programs, and for use from home."
FYI:  Here is an example of one of the publications:

Arroyo, I., Ferguson, K., Johns, J., Dragon, T., Meheranian, H., Fisher, D., Barto, A., Mahadevan, S., Woolf, B.P. (2007) Repairing Disengagement with Non-Invasive Interventions. To appear in Proceedings of the 13th International Conference of Artificial Intelligence in Education. IOS Press

Other applications that go beyond skill-and-drill that can be accessed via a laptop with an internet connection include the DimensionU series, which includes a multi-player algebra game, as well as games for different core subjects.

"Welcome to DimensionU, a prestigious game-based training facility for K-12 students. In DimensionU, you can access multiplayer educational video games that help you hone your skills, connect with friends, climb the ranks and have a blast.  Click on the orbiting green M above to transport yourself to DimensionM, where multiplayer educational games for Math can be found, or click on the blue S to transport yourself to DimensionS where you can work on your Science skills.  Challenge other students around the corner or around the world. No matter whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s always more to learn and do in DimensionU. Where do you want to play today?"   

DimensionU product efficacy studies

The best part of these applications is that they track progress with reliable data, which is integral to regular education RTI (Response to Intervention) efforts. Additional, this form of data tracking is useful to special educators who need to track their students' progress towards IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals. 
At any rate, I have lots of references and resources that I'd like to share in the near future. They cover topics such as interactive whiteboard and 1:1 laptop research,  emerging technologies in education,  the use of video games for learning and therapeutic purposes, issues of technology integration,  and topics such as "RTI and Assistive Technology",  RTI and UDL",  cloud computing and educational technology,  new forms of data/progress monitoring software, and so forth.  Of course, there will be more about interactive mult-touch displays and tables for learning!

Other Thoughts
I'm also interested in looking at how technology can move school psychologists into the 21st century.  Take the subject of cognitive assessment for a start.   Here is an example to illustrate my point:

A couple of years ago, I was administering a WISC-IV to a high school student that I also saw for counseling.  My hand started to cramp as I was recording his responses to some of the Verbal subtest items.  He said something like, "Mrs. Marentette, you always use your laptop to take notes during our sessions.  Why do you have to use a pen and paper to write down everything I'm saying now?"   Until that moment, I hadn't given it much thought.   
An additional topic I'll discuss in the future: "Seamless/Ubiquitious Learning" - and how it can support learners, teachers, parents, and related service providers, including school psychologists.
2006: Mega List of Resources and References:  Technology, Psychology, Intervention & Prevention
Technology and the 21st Century School Psychologist, Speech and Language Pathologist, Special Educator, Etc.
TPACK Framework:  Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Assistive Technology, and Universal Design for Learning
UPDATE:  Cognitive "bursts", technology-supported interventions, interactive whiteboards, digital storytelling, and reflections about a new SMARTTable.

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