Sunday, April 24, 2011

Talking with Milo. Amazing Reality in Virtual World Interface

Talk about realistic interaction - - - this Milo video is absolutely amazing!

This is a system where the on-screen boy, Milo, can recognize faces, voices and even emotions in our voices.  The ability for the user to interact within the video world is astonishing but watch what happens when the user "hands" a paper with a hand-drawn photo to the character on the screen and you will be astonished.

Imagine what this could do in learning situations.  Doesn't necessarily have to be in the classroom. This would be even more effective during the non-school hours as tutor, collaborator or even tutee.

Xbox 360 | PlayStation 3 | Nintendo Wii | PC Games

What do you think?  Where do you think that this will change the educational world?  Will it endanger schooling as we know it today?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Poof! Your iPad Becomes an Interactive Whiteboard

I have never been a big fan of the Interactive Whiteboards (IWB).  We continually cry for more student-centric problem-based learning curriculum and then we introduce these BIG TICKET devices to maintain the teacher's control of the classroom. Where is the sense in that? We need to provide a system where the control is in the students' hands. That IS the definition of student-centric.

IWB proponents say that we can use the Interactive Slates (e.g., Promethean Activslate) but they cost $600 a piece.  What if we could spread them out so that the students have access to these slates?  What if they could help control them from their seats by themselves or in small groups?  What if we could do this with the iPads that we already have along with some modestly priced software apps? Sure, iPads cost $500, but you can use them for so many more things than just controlling the projector screen.

I was reading Wesley Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog when I happened upon his posting about Using iPads as IWBs for $5 or $10. In that posting (and I strongly suggest you read it) he introduced us to Dr. Tim Tyson who has created some quickcasts that tell you how to turn your iPads into interactive slates that can control your screen from your seat for a paltry price.

The strategy is simple. You need to have some software that will enable you to share screens between your iPad and your computer (Mac or Windows). This means that when you move things around on your iPad, it will appear on the projected screen. I found such software a few weeks ago when I purchased the app, Air Display, for $10.  It easy to use and you remember that I used it to add a third screen to my laptop (Triple Screens on My MacBook Pro.)

Once you have this capability, your ability to interact with the screen will require some screen annotation and screen capture software. Believe it or not, this is available at a reasonable price.

Screen Annotation Software: Technically, you can't use IWB-specific software to run your iPad. You might be able to download a personal version for free from a commercial website (e.g., Promethean) but it is supposed to me used on a Promethean board.  I did a little investigating and found that Promethean has a SPECIAL SITUATION offer. They WILL allow you to use the Personal version of ActivInspire on a non-Promethean board "solely for the purpose of operating  Resources available from Promethean Planet on non-Promethean hardware."  You just have to apply for a Teacher Consent License.  You apply and they approve/disapprove it in 5 days.

If that doesn't fit your needs, you can purchase some useful software for a reasonable price.  Dr. Tim suggests Ink2Go.  It provides annotation and screen captures for $20.  I haven't purchased it, but the video in Dr. Tim's #3 Quickcast showed it to be pretty good.  I think that Wes is being overly optimistic when he says that you can get this set-up for $10, but you can get it for $30 and that's a pretty good deal.  Wes recommends getting a Pogo Stylus for $15 to improve your accuracy, and that looks like a pretty good idea.

Is this going to work for us?  Kathy Schrock says that she has been doing it for a few weeks at her schools and love it to death. I look forward to going to school and trying this on our Promethean Boards. You will want to watch Dr. Tim's videos and set yourself up to have a personal IWB on your iPad.

What do you think?  Will this fit your needs?


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ITEC Student Tech Fair

Students are the Center of Attention this week for the Iowa Technology and Education Connection (ITEC) organization.

Movies, graphics and robots have invaded sites statewide as Iowa K-12 students share their technology projects this week. Sponsored by the Iowa Technology and Education 

This Student Technology Fair occurs as three fairs held this week across the state at Iowa State University (3/12) and Denison High School (3/14). Almost 300 projects will be presented statewide. The projects span seven different categories including multimedia, web presence, programming, video/linear presentation, graphics/publishing, 3-D rendering/non-linear animation, and music/sound design. 

Each of the projects will be reviewed by local judges and those receiving the Judges’ Purple Ribbon awards will be invited to showcase their projects at the ITEC conference in October.

Here is some of the coverage for the events:

Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier

KWWL Broadcast

KWWL TV covers the ITEC Student Tech Fair at UNI

#ITECtechfair Tweet Feed
#ITECtechfair Tweet Feed - See what Twitterers are saying throughout the week.

Triple-Screens on my MacBook Pro

Yes, it's true.

You are seeing triple screens running with my MacBook Pro without any external splitter hardware.

Cast of Characters (from the left):
--iPad I (bought 3 wks before iPad II was released)
--MacBook Pro
--Scavenged flatscreen monitor.

The flat screen is just connected using a VGA dongle to connect it as I would connect a projector to use in class.

The iPad connection is a little trickier. I found a nifty app called Air Display (relative to Air Guitar - but not).  Air Display is an app created by Avatron.  It allows you to wirelessly extend your desktop to iPad, iPhone, iPod or Mac.

You load the app on your iPad (or other i-device) and then load a computer-based version on your base computer. They even say that you can run the computer-based software on a Mac OR Windows PC.

Turn-on Air Display on your computer.
Now go to your i-device and turn the Air Display app.  You might have to play with the System Preferences on either of the computers.

Now you are connected.  Play with the Monitor Preferences Arrangements but it's pretty easy.

Why would anyone need such an arrangement asks my secretary?

That's not the point.

The point IS . . . . . . . . . that it's possible.


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Returning to the Grid

I am doing it again. I have returned to blogging my ideas so that I can hear your feelings on these topics.

It isn't until I leave to a different strand of life that I realize how connected to "The Grid" I really am.  As a professorial geek, I typically spend my life blogging, tweeting, texting (not so much), Toodledo-ing my todo list for the day, signing in with 4square, grading papers online, writing and continually refining the online resources for my classes. lt is all just part of my life.  It's not until I go to a place where this is not accessible that I realize how intergral begin "on the grid" is to my life.

This first became apparent when I took a week-long mountain biking trek in Utah.  I consciously left behind my phone and computer and anything electronic except a flashlight. It was liberating. I lived my life for myself and didn't worry about having to share it with anyone except my colleague bikers.

Recently, I traveled with a team of UNI grad students to the Flat Classroom Conference in Beijing where it was all about technology, but I kind of dropped off the grid for a little while. I didn't buy a local phone or sim card so I didn't have phone access. I was online with my laptop, but didn't find the time to blog our adventures for my readers and professional colleagues (sorry about that.) There was just too much to do and see for me spend extra time trying to sound literate through social media. Good thing our students did such a wonderful job of blogging, vlogging and skyping with the public about our travels. (explore links to their wise writings.)

Vicki Davis talks about how we need a break from the grid during Spring Break in her posting Be There. She says that we need to "Rest, Relax and Reach Out."  I couldn't agree with her more. I can't say that I was really Off the Grid over our spring break, but when I returned to my new office at UNI it took a few days to get back into the swing of things.  This means that I actually stopped thinking about work for a few days.

I have been back for about a month and am trying to get back on the grid. This Saturday morning I decided to go to Panera's coffee shop to spend a few hours writing and reconnecting with the world. Some of the postings I will make this week and others will be stockpiled as timeless pontification that will be used for a myriad of opportunities in the near future. (wow, pontification and myriad in the same sentence - how pedantic is that?)

I truly hope that you aren't reading this from your Blackberry while driving down the 605 freeway. I hope that you are enjoying this with a cup of java (or drink of your choice) while pondering the meaning of life.

Take care of yourself. You can Work Less and Produce More

I am happy to report that Dr. Z is back "On the Grid" again - for now.  =-)

What do you do to maintain your sanity?