Nov 18, 2015

Highlights from UIST 2015 - Animatronics + Digital Storytelling and More!

I recently attended the 28th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium (UIST2015), held in Charlotte, N.C.   Although the focus of the conference was not on educational interfaces, a good number of the presentations and demos were related to education in some way.

I've been looking at ways newer technologies can take a bigger role in education, something that is important, given the spread of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in K-12 settings.  The STEM/STEAM approach requires students to work collaboratively through project-based learning activities designed to support a variety of skills that they will need as university students-- and beyond.

The focus of this year's UIST Student Innovation Contest  session was storytelling and animatronics!

According to info from the UIST website: "Schools and museums are starting to offer experimental Animatronics classes where kids build furry robotic animals and use them to tell amazing stories. These courses blur traditional lines - between art and engineering, between the virtual and physical worlds - all while demonstrating the universality of creativity across disciplines. Everybody learns how to write stories, build mechanisms, program motions, provide voice performances, etc. In this way, kids see how it all works together, and it has a way of inspiring kids to see new career possibilities."

I was delighted to see so many kid-friendly interfaces.  The first one that caught my eye was "ZOOO".

The ZOOO platform supports digital storytelling through the creation and use of electronic stage, computer-assisted animated puppets, and an a easy-to-use visual software programming environment.  ZOOO would appeal to teachers who are implementing project-based STEAM activities with their students.

ZOOO poster, UIST 2015

ZOOO programming interface

I liked the visual design of the programming interface, which can be accessed through a touch-screen.  ZOOO was created by a team of students at the IInterdisciplinary Program of Information Art & Design, Academy of Arts & Design,Tsinghua University, China.

Another demo that caught my eye was Show-Flow. Show-Flow is a software tool designed to create a non-linear animatronic puppet show.  In the following video, the story is entitled "Zee's Mystery": 

The Show-Flow software was created by Nuirit Kirshenbaum, and is available for download on github.

So where is all of this headed?

In today's K-12 classrooms following the Common Core Standards, STEM/STEAM subjects are often integrated into the English/Language Arts curriculum.  Reading instruction is very important, but new ways of teaching and learning are taking hold, such as project-based learning.   Projects are interdisciplinary in nature and require careful planning on the part of teachers---and also require plenty of space for students to communicate, collaborate, brainstorm, design, and share ideas.   

In some schools, teachers are finding that laptops, productivity software, and multimedia resources on the web are good for supporting project based learning activities, but there are limitations. Teachers can't always see what is going on with the students, and laptop screens don't allow for more than two children, at best, to easily see content and collaborate. 

What is exciting is that many schools are thinking beyond 2015.  Tired of the cost of replacing projector bulbs and "touchy" interactive whiteboards, some schools are embracing solutions that are likely to support authentic collaboration -- for example, the picture below shows young children on a Clear Touch display running NUITEQ's Snowflake MultiTeach software.  

Picture of children interacting on a Clear Touch multi-touch table and NUITEQ Snowflake MultiTeach Software.

In a classroom setting, NUITEQ's Snowflake MultiTeach software can support students working individually or in collaborative groups.  Teachers can create a variety of game-like lessons using the versatile Lessons App.    With the multi-touch, multi-user  Clear Touch display, teachers can orient the screen to meet the needs of the students - upright in an interactive presentation mode, at an angle for design and brainstorming activities, or horizontally, in a table mode.  

All of this is great for supporting science lab activities-- and also student collaboration and planning for STEAM projects. 

I'll be posting more about UIST 2015 highlights soon!


UIST 2015
Conference Website

毛成鹏 Chengpeng Mao
清华大学美术学院 信息艺术设计系
Interdisciplinary Program of Information Art & Design, Academy of Arts & Design,Tsinghua University
Mobile  (+86)155-011-21372
Beijing• China  100084

Nuirit Kirshenbaum

MultiTeach Pinterest
MultiTeach Lessons Community

Clear Touch Interactive Experience

Disclosure: I am a K-12 Technology Specialist with NUITEQ.

Sep 30, 2015

Looking forward to attending UIST in Charlotte NC!

I am happy to share that I will be attending the UIST 15, the 28th ACM User Interface Software and Technology Symposium, from November 8-11. It will be held in my hometown, Charlotte, N.C. 

I look forward to sharing what I learn with my colleagues at NUITEQ and with educators who are interested in learning more about the technologies that have the potential to impact the future.

According to the conference website, "The ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) is the premier forum for innovations in human-computer interfaces. Sponsored by ACM special interest groups on computer-human interaction (SIGCHI) and computer graphics (SIGGRAPH), UIST brings together people from diverse areas including graphical & web user interfaces, tangible & ubiquitous computing, virtual & augmented reality, multimedia, new input & output devices, and CSCW. The intimate size and intensive program make UIST an ideal opportunity to exchange research results and ideas."

I am exited to see what new technologies are making way into K-12 educational settings-- for example, the following video from the UIST 15 conference website highlights software and hardware innovations for animatronics. High school students work on creative projects that support storytelling, while learning about technology and engineering concepts.

There are many opportunities for young children to gain a range of skills.  In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools,  Oakhurst Elementary School was renovated and re-envisioned as a STEAM magnet program. 

What is STEAM?   

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

The following video provides an overview of the exciting things happening at Oakhurst:

Sep 19, 2015

Working for NUITEQ as a K-12 Tech Specialist

I'm happy to announce that I am working for NUITEQ as a K-12 Technology Specialist. NUITEQ has made a commitment to developing educational solutions to meet the needs of students and teachers in today's technology-rich classrooms.

Take a look at a recent post I wrote for the NUITEQ blog:

The 21st Century Classroom and Multi-touch Technology

You might also be interested in the new Pinterest site I created as resource for teachers who will be using NUITEQ's multi-touch software, MultiTeach. The Pinterest boards will be regularly updated:

MultiTeach Resources on Pinterest
MultiTeach Pinterest

Below are some pictures of a little guy I know and love, happily exploring what MultiTeach has to offer:

What I like about the NUITEQ team is that it aims to put users front and center at each phase of development.  For education, this means teachers and students.  

Note:  I will continue to share my interactive multimedia and emerging technology discoveries in future Interactive Multimedia Technology posts!

Aug 5, 2015

Back-to-School Reads For Innovative Teaching and Learning

It is that time of year.  

Teachers, students, and parents know that in a few days or weeks, school will begin for the 2015-16 academic year... 

The good news?  

Some teachers have been busy sharing their ideas, strategies, and resources as they plan ahead.  Here are a just a few good links to get started:

8 things every teacher can do to create an innovative classroom
Trevor Shaw, eSchool News, 8/3/15

Elementary Classroom Hacks:  Big Ideas at Little Cost
Samantha McBurney, Edutopia, 8/3/15

The MindShift Guide to Digital Games and Learning
Ki Sung, Mind/Shift, 11/18/14

Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling
University of Houston, 2015

15 Characteristics of a 21st-Century Teacher
Tsisana Palmer, Edutopia, 6/20/15

Engage NY (Common Core Lessons)
New York State Education Department Website

Fractions are hard
David Wee, The Reflective Educator

Seeing Struggling Math Learners as 'Sense Makers', Not 'Mistake Makers'
Katrina Schwartz, Mind/Shift, 8/4/15

Mistake Makers or Sense Makers, David Wees

More to come!

Jun 5, 2015

Rock the World Interaction with Guitars at Discovery Place, Charlotte!

Interactivity, Hands-on Fun!

I recently visited Discovery Place, Charlotte with my 4 1/2 year-old grandson. Discovery places is one of his favorite museums because he loves the interactive exhibits.  I have a family pass, so he knows that if there is a special exhibit coming up, he'll be sure to go.

The special exhibit, "Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World", runs from May 30, 2015 through September 7, 2015.  It is part of a touring exhibition of the National GUITAR museum.  

One of the first thing that caught my grandson's attention was an interactive display created by [i]cell Interactive.  The display provides an easy way to select a guitar, listen to the music it produces, and learn more about the guitar.  It was built into a tour road case for the exhibit, which was appealing, consistent with the exhibit's "road tour" theme.  The following clip shows my grandson's initial reaction when he came across the display:


There were loads of schoolchildren at the exhibit, so we couldn't get the full experience.  We will be visiting it soon when it is less crowded, and I will follow up with a related post.

Discovery Place Museum: The Instrument that Rocked the World
The Instrument that Rocked the World is About To Rock Charlotte
National Guitar Museum
[i] Cell Interactive

Hard Rock Cafe Interactive Memorabilia Website

Oct 18, 2014

Planning to resurface!

I will resume blogging within the next few months.  My father recently passed away after many years of declining health --- and I've been busy winding up my main career as I plan my early retirement as a (tech-savvy) school psychologist.

I've had the opportunity to work in two elementary schools where all of the students have small netbook/laptops.  It has been exciting to see how they work in groups for project-based learning activities.   They are engaged, learning, creative, and most of the time, smiling!   All of the classrooms have interactive whiteboards, and the teachers make great use of interactive resources.

In the meantime, I have collected a number of photos and video clips of interactive multimedia technology "out and about".   Much of my focus looks at ways people access and use various technologies in public spaces.  My nearly four-year-old  grandson is my side kick, and following in my footsteps, he is a very good critic!

Day at Discovery Place!

Discovery Place