Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Brief Overview of Calming Technology (Research group at Stanford University)

What is calming technology?  I've been meaning to write a few in-depth posts on this topic, but I've had little time.  For now, here's a brief overview of the topic:

"Calming Technologies are tools that reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus and clarity, and help develop calming physical, cognitive, and emotional habits." -CalmingTech

Calming Technology 
"CalmingTechnology.com is the research blog for the Calming Technology research group at Stanford University. We draw from the fields of human-computer interaction, persuasion and influence, psychology and perception, and medicine and anatomy. Previously we referred to this field as "augmented relaxation" and similar names..."

Calming Technology Course, Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, taught by BJ Fogg and Neema Moraveji

CalmingTech (twitter)

Calming Technology Bibilography

Calming Technology (pdf)
Neema Moraveji, Neekaan Oshidary, Roy Pea, BJ Fogg (CHI 2011)

Links: Calming technology projects,  freeware, and commercial products

As I explore this topic, I'll post more information!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Algodoo physics app. for the SMART Board 800 series, supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction!

A few years ago, I came across "Phun", a free, hands-on application designed for use in science education.  I was impressed, and had the chance to use it with a few students.    Phun was Emil Ernerfeldt's MSc Computer Science project, created at the VR lab at UmeĆ„ Universityin Sweden, under the supervision of Kenneth Bodin. 

Phun is now known as Algodoo, and is part of the family of applications offered by Algoryx, a company that develops multi-physics and 3D simulation software.  As you can see from the recent video below, it has improved over the years.  The most recent news is that the application was transformed for use on the SMART Board 800 series, and supports multi-touch and multi-user interaction.  

One of the reasons that I like Algodoo is that it supports social interaction during learning activities, something that can enhance deeper learning among students.  It allows students to move and work in a "hands-on" fashion.  In schools that have invested stimulus money on technology and now have limited funds for upgrading traditional science equipment, applications such as Algodoo will most likely provide a good "bang for the buck".

Algodoo: Science education for a new generation

"Algodoo is a totally unique program. A program that gives you the opportunity to play with physics - using your own hands. Apply a constructionists learning paradigm, learning by doing. Use simple drawing tools to design, construct and explore with. Sounds like an interesting idea? Watch this video and learn how!" -Algoryx

Algodoo demonstration on a SMART Board 800 multi-touch/multiuser interactive whiteboards:

Alogryx Simulation integrates Algodoo application with the SMART Board 800 series Smart Technologies
Algodoo website
Algoryx Multiphsyics and 3D Simulation website

Information about Phun, an earlier version of Algodoo:

You can download the music used in the videos and the Phun application from the following URL: http://www.phunland.com/download/Phun_theme.mp3

Video of original version: Phun - 2D physics sandbox:

Interactive Physics: Algodoo, the educational version of Phun, optimized for the Classmate PC (Interactive Multimedia Technology, 1/16/09)

Engaged Learning and Social Physics: Phun, an Interactive 2D Physics Sandbox
Interactive Multimedia Technology, 6/08/08

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 25th Release Date: Play and Experiment with Music on your iPad/Phone/Pod with NodeBeat iOS Music Sequencer by Affinity Blue, by Seth Sandler and Justin Windle

If you love music and have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you'll have fun exploring and experimenting with NodeBeat. As soon as I get my iPad, I plan to get this app! 

"NodeBeat is an experimental node-based audio sequencer and generative music application for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. NodeBeat is designed to let you create a variety of rhythmic sequences and ambient melodies in an intuitive fashion. It is scheduled for release on April 25th." -Affinity Blue

NodeBeat - iOS Music Sequencer from AffinityBlue on Vimeo.

NodeBeat is a collaboration between Seth Sandler and Justin Windle. It was developed using openFrameworks, with PureData for audio synthesis.  According to the NodeBeat website, "Octaves and Notes make up the two types of nodes. Octaves pulse and send messages to Notes within proximity. Each Octave is assigned a random octave and each Note, a random note; therefore, a Note will play in several octaves depending on the Octave it's connected to. Pause nodes to create your own beats or let them roam free to have them generate their own." Features include adjustable node physics, node add/remove, pitch shift, adjustable pulse rate and beat sync, adjustable echo, attack, decay, and release for creative sound sculpting, and for the iPad, audio waveform display and landscape/portrait views.

NodeBeat website
Seth Sandler's posts about music
Seth's posts and videos about AudioTouch, and interactive multi-touch interfaces for computer music exploration and collaboration.
Soulwire (Justin Windle's blog)

Cross-posted on The World Is My Interactive Interface and Interactive Multimedia Technology blogs.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"Teaching the iGeneration" Book Study - VoiceThread and Skype in Education

I'm participating in a book study with my colleagues at Wolfe School.  The book we're studying is "Teaching the iGeneration:  5 Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills With Web 2.0 Tools", written by William M. Ferriter and Adam Garry. The book has been a great anchor for our  discussions and has proven to be a treasure chest of resources.
Look inside Teaching the iGeneration: 5 Easy Ways to Introduce Essential Skills With Web 2.0 Tools!
This week, I'm co-leading a discussion with MaryJo Breckenridge, the principal of our school, about "Studying Challenging Topics Together", the focus of Chapter 4 of the book.  VoiceThread was featured in the chapter as a tool to support digital conversations about educational topics and content, and has been successful in enhancing Socratic circles in language arts and social studies classrooms. MaryJo created a VoiceThread for our group so we can share our comments and reflections about what we've learned from the chapter.

So what is a VoiceThread?
"A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways, using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio files, or video (via webcam)."  VoiceThreads can be integrated into Moodle, a learning management system, as well as blogs and websites.

Below is a voice thread from a conversation about Educating the iGeneration that took place during August 26-28 in 2010:

Another topic covered in Chapter 4 advantages of using video conferencing tools, such as Skype, to support a range of learning and communication activities for students.  To support the use of Skype by educators, Skype created a website,  Skype in the Classroom.  

According to the website, Skype in the Classroom is "a free global community that invites teachers to collaborate on classroom projects where they might use Skype, and share skills and inspiration around specific teaching needs."   Below is my Skype in the Classroom page:

I've participate in a few book studies in my area that used Skype to include authors in the discussion. With a good connection and a large high-resolution display, it is the next best thing to having the author in the room!

There are a growing number of resources for educators interested in using Skype in the classroom. Here are a few:
Skype in Schools wiki
Skype in the Classroom Resources
Blog post: Skype Other Classrooms (Sue Waters)
Blog post: The Best Ways To Find Other Classes for Joint Online Projects (Larry Ferlazzo)
Skype In the Classroom: An International Social Network for Teachers  (Robin Wauters, TechCrunch)

The Cool Cat Teacher blog has a variety of excellent posts that relate to the use of technology in the classroom:
Using Skype in the Classroom (or just learning how to use it!)  -from 2006, but still good.
The Five Phases of Flattening a Classroom