Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts about Emerging Ed. Tech: CLASSMATE ASSIST and WAYANG OUTPOST - Sensors, AI, and Context Awareness for Learning -and Teaching

Brief background: I've been following developments in intelligent tutoring systems for a while,  and find it interesting to see how researchers are combining artificial intelligence, learning theory, affective computing, and sensor networks to create applications that might prove to be useful and effective.  

The advantage of using intelligent tutoring applications in some cases is that it provides students with additional support and feedback the moment it is needed, something that is difficult for teachers to provide to students in large classrooms.  With the increase in use of smartphones and other mobile devices such as the iPad, there is a good chance that this sort of technology will be used to support learning anywhere, anytime.

Although most intelligent tutoring systems are geared for 1-1 computing, I think there are some components that could be tweaked and then transfered to create intelligent "tutoring" systems for collaborative learning.  Students like game-based learning, and what could be more fun than playing AND learning with a partner or group of peers? (I plan to revisit the research in this area in an upcoming post.)
Some thoughts:
I envision a system could support learning as well as important skills useful to students in life beyond the school walls, such as positive social interaction, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.   The path of least resistance?  Most likely applications that support the learning of pairs or small groups of students working at one display.  However, in this era of the "21st Century Learner", there is a growing need for applications that can support small groups of students for collaborative groups and project-based learning activities.   

There are a few applications developed for collaborative learning activities around a multi-touch table, such as the SMARTTable or the Surface, and more are needed.   Also needed are intelligent systems that can support video conferencing and collaborative learning between students who are not physically co-located.

There are some problems that have yet to be solved.  For example, the use of multiple sensors for an application designed for young people might be too intrusive. There are serious issues related to privacy/security.  Who would have access to data regarding a student's emotional or physiological state?  How would this data be utilized?  How would this information be protected?    Many school districts have security vulnerabilities, so it is possible that this information could be misused, if in the wrong hands.

Below I've highlighted two "intelligent" tutoring systems that incorporate the use of sensors in one form or another to generate information about student learning in a way that simulates what good teachers do every day. The ClassroomAssist application was developed by researchers at Intel, in collaboration with several universities.  The Wayang Outpost application was developed by researchers at UMASS, and is aligned with the principles of Universal Design for Learning.


ClassmateAssist is an application developed by Intel's Everyday Sensing and Perception team.  Here is the description of the application from Intel Research:

"The advent of 1:1 computing in the classroom opens the door for teachers to set up individualized learning for their students who have a wide spectrum of interests and skills.  ClasmateAssist technology uses computer vision and image projection to assist and guide students in a 1:1 learning environment, helping them to independently accomplish tasks at their own pace, while at the same time allowing teachers to be apprised of student progress."

In the following video, Richard Beckwith, a developmental psychologist at Intel, demonstrates a prototype of an application that uses video-sensing to track student's hand movements during a coin sorting lesson. The application provides feedback to the student, and also tracks data about the student's progress that can be transformed into a report for the teacher.  The system can also monitor student's facial expression, note attention levels, and provide feedback.

Intel Research: Everyday Sensing and Perception
Socially and Physically Aware Interaction Systems (SPAIS)
Intel Research Press kit
SPAIS Publications:
Theocharous, G., Beckwith, R., Butko, N., Philipose, M. Tractable POMDP Planning Algorithms for Optimal Teaching in "SPAIS". International Joint Conferene on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) workshop on Plan Activity, and Intent Recognition (PAIR), Pasadena, California, July 2009.
Theocharous, G., Butko, N., Philipose, M. Designing a Mathematical Manipulatives Tutoring System using POMDPS. (pdf). POMDP Practitioners Workshop: Solving Real-world POMDP Problems, International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS). Toronto, May 2010

Wayang OutpostWeb-based Interactive Math/Intelligent Tutoring System, with Sensors.
I've followed the work of Beverly P. Woolf and her colleagues for some time.  Much of their research has centered around a web-based application, Wayang Outpost, an intelligent electronic tutoring system that incorporates multimedia and animated adventures while providing activities designed to prepare teens for standardized math tests, such as the SAT and state-mandated end-of-course exams.

In recent years, the team has been using non-invasive sensors in their research, including a camera that views facial expressions, a posture-sensing device located in the seat of the student's chair, and a pressure-sensitive mouse, and a wireless skin conductance wristband. Data collected through all of these sensors can provide useful information about student learning.  The system can also note when students try to "game" the system.
Related Publications
Woolf, B.P., Arroyo, I., Muldner, K., Burleson, W., Cooper, D., Dolan, R., Christopherson, R.M (2010)The Effect of Motivational Learning Companions on Low Achieving Students and Students with Disabilties (pdf) International Conference on Intelligent Tutoring Systems, Pittsburgh.
Abstract "We report the results of a randomized controlled evaluation of the effectiveness of pedagogical agents as providers of affective feedback. These digital learning companion were embedded in an intelligent tutoring system for mathematics, and were used by approximately one hundred students in two public high schools. Students in the control group did not receive the learning companions. Results indicate that low-achieving students—one third of whom have learning disabilities—had higher affective needs than their higher achieving peers; they initially considered math problem-solving more frustrating, less exciting, and felt more anxious when solving math problems.  However, after they interacted with affective pedagogical agents, low-achieving students improved their affective outcomes, e.g., reported reduced frustration and anxiety."
Arroyo, I., Cooper, D.G., Burleson, W., Woolf, B.P., Muldner, K., Christopherson, R. (2009)
Emotion Sensors Go To School. AIED 2009. Pp. 17-24. IOS Press.
Low-tech description of Wayang Outpost, the math application used in the above publication: 

Paul Franz, Recoder.Com 5/16/09
Cooper, D.G., Arroyo, I., Woolf, B.P., Muldner, K., Burleson, W., Christoperson, R.  Sensors Model Student Self-Concept in the Classroom (pdf) UMass Amherst, June 22, 2009/UMAP 2009

Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mobile Phone Learning Games for Rural Chinese Children -The MILLEE Project

I'd like to share an article about the use of mobile technology to support literacy learning among students in rural China:

In Rural China, Students Use Phones to Learn to Read
Tim Carmody, Wired, 10/19/10

"Scholars from Carnegie Mellon, UC-Berkeley, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences worked with children in Xin’an, an underdeveloped region in Henan Province, China, using two mobile learning games, inspired by traditional Chinese children’s games. MILLEE later repeated these studies with young children at a privately run school in urban Beijing. Both runs suggest that phone-based games could be a useful tool in teaching literacy." -Carmody

Mobile learning is not a new concept. It has been the focus of scholarly research for much of the present decade.  The 2011 International Mobile Learning Conference (MLearn 2011) will be held next October in Tokyo, Japan.  A quick look at the conference's "call for papers" provides a good overview of mobile learning trends. 

MILLEE Website
Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies (Big Ideas at Berkeley)
MILLEE Team Bios

Below is the list of publications from the MILLEE project:

An Exploratory Study of Unsupervised Mobile Learning in Rural India. Anuj Kumar, Anuj Tewari, Geeta Shroff, Deepti Chittamuru, Matthew Kam, and John Canny. To appear in Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’10), Atlanta, Georgia, April 10-15, 2010. Best Paper Honorable Mention.

Let's Play Chinese Characters - Mobile Learning Approaches via Culturally Inspired Group Games. Feng Tian, Fei Lv, Jingtao Wang, Hongan Wang, Wencan Luo, Matthew Kam, Vidya Setlur, Guozhong Dai, and John Canny. To appear in Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’10), Atlanta, Georgia, April 10-15, 2010.

Improving Literacy in Rural India: Cellphone Games in an After-School Program. Matthew Kam, Anuj Kumar, Shirley Jain, Akhil Mathur, and John Canny. In Proceedings of IEEE/ACM Conference on Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD ’09), Doha, Qatar, April 17-19, 2009.

Designing Digital Games for Rural Children: A Study of Traditional Village Games in India. Matthew Kam, Akhil Mathur, Anuj Kumar, and John Canny. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’09), Boston, Massachusetts, April 4-9, 2009. Best Paper Honorable Mention.

Involving Local Undergraduates in Fieldwork. Matthew Kam. In ACM interactions, July-August 2008 issue. (article in English; translated into Chinese by uiGarden for practitioners in China.)
Designing E-Learning Games for Rural Children in India: A Format for Balancing Learning with Fun.Matthew Kam, Aishvarya Agarwal, Anuj Kumar, Siddhartha Lal, Akhil Mathur, Anuj Tewari, and John Canny. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '08), Cape Town, South Africa, February 25-27, 2008.

The Social Complexities of User-Centered Design in ICTD: Experiences from Four Schools in India’s Villages and Slums. Matthew Kam, Siddharth Bhagwani, Anuj Kumar, Siddhartha Lal, Akhil Mathur, Anuj Tewari, and John Canny. In Proceedings of IEEE/ACM International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD ’07), Bangalore, India, December 15-16, 2007.

Mobile Gaming with Children in Rural India: Contextual Factors in the Use of Game Design Patterns.Matthew Kam, Vijay Rudraraju, Anuj Tewari, and John Canny. In Proceedings of 3rd Digital Games Research Association International Conference (DiGRA '07), Tokyo, Japan, September 24-28, 2007.

Localized Iterative Design for Language Learning in Underdeveloped Regions: The PACE Framework. Matthew Kam, Divya Ramachandran, Varun Devanathan, Anuj Tewari, and John Canny. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '07), San Jose, California, April 28-May 3, 2007.

Social Dynamics of Early Stage Co-Design in Developing Regions. Divya Ramachandran, Matthew Kam, Jane Chiu, John Canny, and James L. Frankel. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '07), San Jose, California, April 28-May 3, 2007.

Practical Considerations for Participatory Design with Rural School Children in Underdeveloped Regions: Early Reflections from the Field. Matthew Kam, Divya Ramachandran, Anand Raghavan, Jane Chiu, Urvashi Sahni, and John Canny. In Proceedings of ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC '06), Tampere, Finland, June 2006.

Designing Educational Technology for Developing Regions: Some Preliminary Hypotheses. Matthew Kam, Divya Ramachandran, Urvashi Sahni, and John Canny. In Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Technology for Education in Developing Countries (TEDC '05), Kaohsiung, Taiwan, July 2005.

The Case for Technology for Developing Regions. Eric Brewer, Michael Demmer, Bowei Du, Kevin Fall, Melissa Ho, Matthew Kam, Sergiu Nedevschi, Joyojeet Pal, Rabin Patra, and Sonesh Surana. InIEEE Computer, Volume 38, Number 6, pp. 25-38, June 2005.

Monday, October 18, 2010 Physics games for interactive whiteboards and touch screens that you can embed on your website!

Physics Games

I have collected lots of resources for interactive whiteboards and other touch-screens, such  all-in-one Touch PC's such as the Dell and HP TouchSmart.  Some are optimized for use on mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and Droids.  

I'd like to highlight a few online interactive educational games on this blog from time-to-time.

The PhysicsGames site is full of games that can be embedded into a blog or web page, making it easy for teachers and parents to organize and arrange the games as they see fit.  This feature also lets students do the same.

On the main page of the website, the games are arranged in alphabetical order, with picture icons for each game.  The titles of the games and the pictures on the icons give you a quick idea of what each game is about.  The games were created by a variety of developers, professionals, teachers, and if I'm not mistaken, tech-savvy students.

Below are links to the various categories of physics games found on the site. The games I explored all had music and sound effects, so make sure that the sound is turned on!  (Note: The site is supported by sponsors, but the advertising is not annoying-in many cases, you can skip the ads.)

Featured | All | Block Removal | Construction | Demolition | Platform | Projectile | Stacking | Othe

Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson's presentation about education and creativity in the 21st century

The following video is an "Animate" of a talk by creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson at the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce).  How do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century, given that we can't anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week? 
(Cross-posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog)

 FYI: An Animate is a video in which a talented illustrator draws images related to the content of a speaker's presentation. (It is a great way to engage visual thinkers, in my opinion.)

The video explains it all.

The following video is the longer original presentation by Sir Ken Robinson, responding to the question about how change can happen in education, and what we might do to make it last:

Thanks to Ewan McIntosh for the link!

About the RSA:
"For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Our approach is multi-disciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action. 
- We encourage public discourse and critical debate by providing platforms for leading experts to share new ideas on contemporary issues, through our public events programme, RSA Journal and RSA Comment.
- Our projects generate new models for tackling the social challenges of today.
- Our work is supported by a 27,000 strong Fellowship - achievers and influencers from every field with a real commitment to progressive social change."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cyber-bullying Victims and Depression: National Institutes of Health Findings

Depression high among youth victims of school cyber bullying, NIM researchers report
Excerpt: "Finding underscores need to monitor, obtain treatment for recipients of cyber bullying"

"Unlike traditional forms of bullying, youth who are the targets of cyber bullying at school are at greater risk for depression than are the youth who bully them, according to a survey conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health."

"The new finding is in contrast to earlier studies of traditional bullying, which found that the highest depression scores were reported by another category of youth involved in bullying-bully victims. Past studies on traditional bullying show that bully-victims — those who both bully others and are bullied themselves — are more likely to report feelings of depression than are other groups."

"Traditional forms of bullying involve physical violence, verbal taunts, or social exclusion. Cyber bullying, or electronic aggression, involves aggressive behaviors communicated over a computer or a cell phone."

Electronic aggression for parents, educators, and researchers:

Stop Bullying Now (U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration)

Information about depression and treatment, National Institutes of Health

RELATED (From the National Association of School Psychologists "NASP Announce" newsletter)
Poor Problem Solving Is a Predictor of Bullying"Predictors of Bullying and Victimization in Childhood and Adolescence: A Meta-analytic Investigation is a review of 153 bullying studies that found difficulty with social problem-solving was a significant marker of bullies, victims, and those who are both bullies and victims. Combined with academic problems, such students tend to be more likely to bully. For victims, negative attitudes about self compound the risk of being bullied. The most promising programs for the prevention of bullying address the development of individual skills and improving the peer context simultaneously."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Project: Interact "Invent, Design, Change" - A 10 week after-school program teaches high schoolers how to use design to change their communities

Cross posted on the Interactive Multimedia Technology blog:
Our classroom

Below is a brief description of Project Interaction, a program developed by Katie Koch and Carmen Dukes to teach high school students to use design thinking to change their communities, and also to inspire students to think about interaction design as a possible future career:

Support Project: Interaction on Kickstarter! from Project: Interaction on Vimeo.


Project: Interaction Vimeo Site, includes video interviews of people who work in the field of interaction design.
Gamestorming: A playbook for innovators, rule-breakers, and changemakers: How to apply game thinking to your business challenges (Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, James Macanufo)

How would this play out at a rural high school?
I'd like to try something like this at my high school. It is located in rural N.C., in between two small towns, not too far from a larger "small" town.  Charlotte, N.C. is the "Big City", but it is is about a 75-100 minute drive, depending on the traffic.  The challenges the students face in a rural/small town area might not be the same as those of teens living in the middle of densely populated NYC,  but that is OK.   It is important to remember that design thinking and interaction design can address a wide range of problems that beg for new solutions, even in the countryside.

It would be awesome if I had the time to implement this at the school. I wonder if any interaction designers in the Charlotte area would be interested in taking a trip out to the country to help get something like this off the ground!

It occurred to me that I hadn't read much about "rural" education lately, although I pass horses and cows and cornfields every day to and from work. With access to cell phones and the Internet, and cable/satellite TV, young people who live on the outskirts have more access to urban trends than in the past, yet it is difficult for school districts in rural and small-town communities to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, especially math, science, and special education teachers at the high school level.

"Boon, Not Boondock:  With enrollment in rural schools on the rise, will education in small-town America finally get the attention it deserves?" Elaine McArdle, Harvard Graduate School of Education Ed. Magazine, 2008
In my own state, North Carolina:
NC State Works to Turnaround Rural Schools Through Leadership
National Research Center on Rural Education Support (UNC-Chapel Hill)
Two of the four research programs of the NRCRES:
Distance Education Program, which examines the role that distance education can play in rural schools, especially for enrichment andadvanced level courses. Rural High School Aspirations Study, which examines rural high school students’ aspirations and preparatory planning for postsecondary education, career training, and adult life."
Distance Education Publications, NRCRES
de la Varre, C., Keane, J., Irvin, M. J., & Hannum, W. (2009). Social support for online learning in rural high schools. In Whitworth, B. & de Moor, A.(Eds). Handbook of Research on Socio-Technical Design and Social Networking Systems (pp. 575-588).
Hannum, W., Irvin, M. J., & de la Varre, C. (in press). Extending educational opportunities in rural areas: Application of distance education in rural schools. In S. Mukerji & P. Tripathi (Eds.). Cases on technological adaptability and transnational learning: Issues and challenges.
Hannum, W. H., Irvin, M. J., Lei, P.-W., & Farmer, T. W. (2008). Effectiveness of using learner-centered principles on student retention in distance education courses in rural schools. Distance Education, 29, 211-229. 
Irvin, M. J., Hannum, W. H., de la Varre, C., & Farmer, T. W. (2009). Barriers to Distance Education in Rural Schools. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Irvin, M. J., Hannum, W. H., Farmer, T. W., de la Varre, C., & Keane, J. (2009). Supporting online learning for Advanced Placement students in small rural schools: Conceptual foundations and intervention components of the Facilitator Preparation Program. The Rural Educator, 31(1), 29-36
Keane, J., de la Varre, C., Irvin, M. J., & Hannum, W. (2008). Learner-centered social support: Enhancing online distance education for underserved rural high school students in the United States. In Whitton, N., & McPherson, M. (Eds). Rethinking the digital divide (pp. 39-48). Research Proceedings of the 15th Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C 20

Rural Education SIG of the American Educational Research Association
REL-Midwest:  Online Learning Opportunities for Rural Schools: Framing the Conversation:  Enhancing the Educational Outcomes of Children Through Distance Learning and Technology
Clopton, K.L, & Knesting, K. Rural School Psychology:  Re-Opening the Discussion.  Journal of Research in Rural Education, 2006, 21(5)

SMARTTable Activities from the SMARTClassroom YouTube Channel

SMARTTable at Wolfe School

Below are links to a variety of videos from the SMARTClassroom YouTube Channel that demonstrate new SMARTTable lessons. 

If you are interested in getting more in-depth SMARTTable training, you can register for certification events via the SMART Learning Center.