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

Apr 12, 2014

Vodafone's "Firsts" Campaign: 2 Grandmas take their first flight; Neil Harbisson's Color Conducted Concert

Vodafone, a telecommunications company, was off of my radar until an endearing video crossed my path on Facebook today.  Vodafone Firsts is part of a global brand program, led by social media, that aims to inspire people to do things for the very first time. Vodafone's strategy seems to be working.

In the following video, An and Ria, two elderly women, take their very first plane trip together to Barcelona.  It is well worth taking 10 minutes to watch it!   The video also does a good job of showing how the women approach using newer technologies, such as a tablet/video phone -- and a VR flight simulator to prepare for the flight.

An & Ria's First Flight  

In the following video, Neil Harbisson uses technology to create a concert that is based on the transformation of color into music. The interesting thing is that Neil is color-blind and has a "cyborg" apparatus that interprets colors for him by converting them into music/sounds. Vodafone provided him with an amazing creative opportunity.  

For more videos and behind-the-scenes information, see the full story on the Vodafone Firsts site, and also the TED Talk video on this post.

Neil Harbisson's First Color Conducted Concert Trailer

Neil Harbisson's TED Talk:  I listen to color

Vodafone Firsts
Vodafone Corporate Site

Vodafone Americas Foundation:  "Mobile for Good"
Vodafone's 2013 Wireless Innovation Project's competition winners pushed the envelope to create new ways of using mobile technology and sensors for health and environmental monitoring.
ColdTrace: Wireless Vaccine Monitoring
MoboSens: Mobile Water Sensor
G-Frensel Cellphone Spectrometer (optical spectroscopy)

Apr 7, 2014

A New Twist to Infoviz: iPad Magic and Card Tricks to Convey Positive Stats About Stockholm

I came across a new twist to information visualization, featuring the creativity of magicians.  They were called to create short videos to promote the city of Stockholm, Sweden.  The use of magicians to convey the "magic" of Stockholm and the economic climate in Sweden was brilliant!  

It might be difficult for "pure" capitalists to understand how Sweden, with such high taxes, can provide an economic environment that supports innovation, capitalistic ventures, and a high standard of living while maintaining an efficient "welfare state".   

For those who live in Sweden, it just might be to the "magic" of the Nordic Model, an economic approach that combines capitalism with social welfare and good stewardship among government officials.   

If everone is healthy, the economy is healthy, right?   Swedish citizens feel that their high tax dollars are well-spent, and also well-managed, which is not always the case in other countries, especially in highly populated regions.

Not all is rosy in Sweden - there were riots last by "disaffected" youth last year, as the youth unemployment rate is high.  Despite the problems, there are are a number of countries who are considering the adoption of the Nordic Model.   The Economist's special report about the Nordic model has an interesting quote:  

Goran Persson, a former Swedish prime minister, once compared Sweden's economy with a bumblebee---"with its overly heavy body and little wings, supposedly it should not be able to fly--but it does."

The following video features Charlie Caper and Erik Rosales, of D1Gits, using iPads and creative magic to convey the positive economic statistics related to doing business in Stockholm:

In their most recent video to promote Stockhomlm,Charlie and Erik take it one step further, by using visualizations that seamlessly interact between iPads and a whiteboard:

In the video below, a magician spouts out interesting facts about the multiple benefits of living in Stockholm, Sweden while performing a number of card tricks to illustrate his points.

When I think about information and data visualization and Sweden, the first person that comes to mind is Hans Rosling, of Gapminder, and his talent at telling stories through interactive, animated data visualization.  As you can see from the video, an entertaining, story-telling approach to information visualization is effective!

The secret of their success:  The Nordic countries are probably the best-governed in the world     2/2/13, Special Report, The Economist
Practical lessons for business from the Nordic Model
Anne Lise Kjaer, Futurist - 9/2013, SME Magazine
The Nordic Model (pdf) 
2007 MIT Department of Economics
What Can the United States Learn from the Nordic Model?
Daniel J. Mitchell, 11/5/07, The CATO Institute
Charlie Caper and Erick Rosales: Using Magic to Introduce Stockholm
The World By Road Collective, 3/2012
Charlie Caper, Magician
Hans Rosling's TED-talk videos 

Mar 16, 2014

MindHabits' Happy Games Paired with Pharrell William's "Happy" Music!

We all could use more smiling people and happy music!

If you are looking for a short burst of happiness, try playing the free MindHabits demo games. I recommend the Matrix Trainer for starters. You can uncheck the "email" box if you don't want to sign up for the newsletter.

The games have upbeat music playing in the background, but you can listen to your own music. In the Matrix game, the objective is to tap as many happy faces that you can find, out of a number of frowny or sad faces.   The research shows that this is an effective way of reducing stress.  I have used the on-line version for years with students who have autism, and it is a fun and effective way of "training" them to focus on facial features and expressions.

The desktop version of the suite of games is just under $20.00, and is available for Windows and Macs.   The desktop version tracks data and and allows users to customize the games with their own photos.   

I am about to explore MindHabit's new mobile apps: Psych Me Up PRO! and Happy Cat! 

If you work with young people - special needs or otherwise, try playing the on-line demo with Pharrell William's "Happy" song in the background (see music video embedded below). 

 This is something that wouldn't hurt to try at home!  

 MindHabits MindHabits MindHabits MindHabits

You are playing the MindHabits Trainer online demo. Your progress will not be logged beyond this session.
Copyright © 2008 MindHabits inc. inc l rights Reserved.

I am sharing information about MindHabits because I have been following this company since 2005, when Dr. Mark Baldwin, the lead creator of the suite of games, gave a presentation.   Dr. Baldwin is a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He has devoted his career to the study of social intelligence, and more recently, how technology can help people reduce stress, build self-confidence, and development, and maintain positive states of mind.

According to the MindHabits website, the Psych Me Up Pro!   ($.99) and PsychMeUp! (free) mobile apps were developed to help people focus attention on positive social feedback. A quiz is included with the application, as well as information about the research that supports the use of the games.  The "pro" version has more options.

The children's version of PsychMeUp! is Happy Cat.  The objective is to find the happy cats and ignore the grumpy cats.  The smiling cat will meow.



MindHabits Game Tips

MindHabits FAQ

MindHabits Update
Lynn Marentette, Interactive Multimedia Technology, 2/24/08

McEwan, K., Gilbert, P., Dandeneau, S., Lipka, S., Maratos, F., Paterson, K.B., Baldwin, M. (2014) Facial Expressions Depicting Compassionate and Critical Emotions: The Development and Validation of a New Emotional Face Stimulus Set. PLOS One DOI: 10.1317/journal.pone.0088783

Dandeneau, S. D., Baldwin, M. W. (2009) The buffering effects of rejection-inhibiting training against social and performance threats in adult students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 42-50

Stephane D. Dandeneau, Mark W. Baldwin, Jodene R. Baccus, and Maya Sakellaropoulo, Jens C. Pruessner (2007), Cutting Stress Off at the Pass: Reducing Vigilance and Responsiveness to Social Threat by Manipulation of Attention (pdf) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, Vol. 93, No. 4, 651–666 American Psychological Association 0022-3514/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.93.4.651