Sep 22, 2011

Intel's 'Museum of Me': Moving 3D visualizations of your Facebook life.

(I missed this one when the buzz started. Thanks to Liz Dorland for the link.)

Museum of Me is a website created by Intel that provides a variety of interesting information visualizations of your photos and other information from Facebook.  Below is a video from Intel that gives a preview of what Museum of Me is about.  Better yet, take a look at all of the 'Museum of Me' videos posted on YouTube.

Video Demo: Museum of Me

Intel's 'Museum of Me' is Cool, Creepy Facebook Fun
Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PCWorld, 6/1/11

Intel's Facebook 'Museum of Me' is a Must-Try
Don  Reisinger, CNET News, The Digital Home 6/2/11

Intel on Facebook

Sep 16, 2011

MindHabits Online Demo: Useful Serious Game for Social Skills Group Activities

I'd like to share the on-line demo of MindHabit's suite of serious games that I've found useful in my work with teens and young adults who need support in the area of social-emotional skills. 

What I like about the online demo is that it adjusts to the player's responses. This feature made it fun to use during the last few social skills groups I facilitated at work, since it could be played by students with a range of cognitive abilities. I had students take turns playing the game using a SMARTboard, and found that all of the students paid attention to what was going on. In my opinion, using the interactive whiteboard supported "off-the-shoulder" learning among the students who were not at the board. 

MindGames is available for Windows and Macs, and the full version is just $19.99 and provides 100 game levels.  The full version tracks progress and includes four games.

Here's some information from the company's website:  
"Based on social intelligence research conducted at McGill University, these stress busting, confidence boosting games use simple, fun-to-play exercises designed to help players develop and maintain a more positive state of mind." 
 "Based on the principles of social intelligence: Inhibition - uses game mechanics to promote positive habits; Association - connects personal info to positive feedback; Activation - uses personal references"

 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. All rights Reserved.


Sep 8, 2011

Update, plus iGaze app by Dunedin Multimedia for use during social skills group activities

So what am I up to now?  

I'd like to share with my readers that I've decided to continue in my present position as a school psychologist, while still devoting a portion of my free time to technology. From time-to-time I think deep thoughts about usability, accessibility,  and UX/Interaction related to off-the-desktop interactive multimedia applications running on screens of all sizes.  I'm hoping to create a few multimedia experiments using HTML5 and JavaScript, and explore jQuery if and when I can find the time!  

For the present school year, my main school is a program for students with more significant disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders.  My second school is a magnet high school for technology and the arts,  located on the same campus.  I also consult throughout the district on cases involving students who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, as well as students who have multiple disabilities.  I am thankful that I have a job in a school district that values 21st Century technology.  

I'm looking forward to another technology-rich school year.  I've spent some of the time I usually devote to blogging devoted exploring iPad apps instead.  Since I'm new to the world of iPads, I'm still in discovery mode.  What an adventure!   

There are plenty of educational apps out there, and many of them are suitable for students with special needs.  On the other hand, there is much room for improvement - across all iPad app categories.  Since there is very little research about what makes up a killer app- or suite of apps- for students with special needs, experimenting with  iPad apps is uncharted territory. 

I made the decision to bring my personal iPad2 to work after I discovered a number of apps that I thought would be useful in my work as a school psychologist with students who have special needs, including autism spectrum disorders.  

One of my intervention themes this year focuses on social skills.   This is especially important for students who participate in our schools community-based job training program.  I'm using some content from Unique Learning's transition materials,  as well as on-line activities from Do2Learn's JobTips website, because my aim is to facilitate social skills that will be useful in a variety of job and community settings.   

Although my main technology tool for working with groups is the SMARTBoard,  I've found that using a combination of interactive whiteboard and iPad activities to be especially effective.  I'm paving the way for more role-play activities in the future, and attempting to use technology to my advantage.

This past week, I used the iGaze app, created by Dunedin Multimedia, to help a group of high-school level students practice establishing and maintaining eye gaze, something that is difficult for most of them to demonstrate "in-person".  I was amazed.  Each student was excited to take his or her turn.  Even more amazing?  When each student took a turn, the other students looked at their eyes and faces.  No one rocked or "stimmed".  No one made noises.  I observed several instances of joint attention, much to my delight.   

Below is a video from Dunedin Multimedia's YouTube channel that is similar to what the students viewed during their group activity:
Here is some information from Dunedin Multimedia about the iGaze app:
"Eye contact is important to communication and social development, and yet the impaired ability to make and maintain eye contact is one of the most striking aspects of autism. iGaze is an eye contact simulator that can help to build confidence in using this important means of nonverbal social communication.  The app also contains information on eye contact and eye gaze, with links to relevant research."

During the social skills activity involving the iGaze app,  I used the SMART Board to display a large picture of a boss and a worker standing face to face, making eye contact, engaged in conversation.  The picture served as an anchor to remind the students of pictures and videos they'd previously viewed that illustrated the concept of face-to-face interaction and the importance of establishing eye-contact with others from time-to-time.

I'm hoping I will be able to access the YouTube videos from Dunedin so I can use them on the SMART Board. It will be interesting to see how this plays out!   I'm also planning to take a closer look at Dunedin Multimedia's emotion x app for the iPad.

Screen-shot of iGaze for the iPad Dunedin:
iPad Screenshot 1
The SMART Table at my school was updated today - I'm looking forward to using it for some group activities, now that it is back in working order and has new applications loaded up and ready to go!

If you are interested in learning more about technology related to students with special needs, be sure to check out Kate Ahern's blog, Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs

Kate's post about the features of Unique Learning Systems.

Upcoming:  more about tablets, interview with folks from Stantum, social-skills game-in-progress.....large displays in public spaces update....

Sep 4, 2011

Contre Jour: My current favorite iPad game - a good example of touchable, movable multimedia

Contre Jour is a game developed for the iPad by Chillingo.  It is my current favorite game, partly because it is a great example of how the power of a touch interface can be harnessed.

The beauty of this game is that it provides a natural means of scaffolding how the tools are used, so that as the player progresses, the learning curve feels almost effortless. In the game, the character is controlled through the player's ability to manipulate and move the environment. The underlying physics is intriguing.

Contre Jour was  inspired by children's book, Little Prince, but in this game, the "prince" is a cute little eyeball character.   In the game,  each chapter/world has a musical theme, and the music integrates with the game's visuals and "movements"  to provide a relaxing ambience.

To learn more, take a look at the following video about Contre Jour.  I'm happy I spent a few dollars to buy the app!

I'll post more about this game as I play it!

Math Multimedia: Paul Bourke's Random Space Filling Tiling of the Plane; Lots'o Related Info and Links

Paul Bourke is a research associate professor and director of iVEC at the University of Western Australia.  I've been following Dr.  for several years and never cease to be amazed by his mathematical and scientific visualization experiements. 

Dr. Bourk recently posted a video of one of his recent projects on Google+ that I found fascinating.  If you are a member of Google+,  you can view the video at  (I wasn't sure how to embed the video in this post.)

Take the time to follow the link below to Paul Bourke's web page about his current work. The pictures and math are worth the effort!

Paul Bourke, July 2011

Paul Bourke's "tiling of the plane" work was inspired by John Shier, a computer artist who integrates random numbers in his creations.

In my opinion, introducing students to the works of Paul Bourke, John Shire, and others might be a great way to spark curiosity and creativity in the study of mathematics, computer programming, and digital art.

MRI-style 3D volumetric data set of a liver

"A fulldome (planetarium) visualisation of three microCT volumetric datasets rendered in Drishti.  They include: (i) Liver Lobe, Rabbit liver illustrating venous and arterial (orange) systems; (ii) Interior of a lizard head (common garden skink); (iii) Fossil fish eyeball (Placoderm), 410 million years old, found in Wee Jasper, NSW. "

Credits for Artforms of Nature: A new way of seeing. 
Ajay Limaye, Peter Morse, Paul Bourke. Vizlab, Australian National University. WASP, University of Western Australia. Featuring fisheye volume rendering from Drishti. Datasets Fossil fish eyeball (Placoderm). Gavin Young, ANU Common garden skink. Tim Senden, ANU Rabbit liver lobe. Tim Senden, ANU ©2008 by the artists. "-

Drishti: Volume Exploration and Presentation Tool
"Drishti has been developed keeping in mind the end-use : visualizing tomography data, electron-microscopy data, etc. Understanding the data set is important and conveying that understanding to the research community or a lay person is equally important. Drishti is aiming for both. The central idea about Drishti is that the scientists should be able to use it for exploring volumetric datasets as well as use it in presentations."

Lynn Marentette, Interactive Multimedia Technology, 5/14/08

Interdisciplinary Workshop - OZVIZ 2011:  November 23-25, Sydney, Australia
"The workshop provides an occasion for participants to present research outcomes, share innovative ideas, publicise work and meet colleagues. It is highly multidisciplinary, with participants from fields such as mathematics, geoscience, architecture, biology, medicine and astronomy presenting alongside computer graphics and visualisation experts."