Category Archives: Visual Learning

Sign Language over Cell Phones in the U.S.

MobileASL visualization techniques


Following my recent find of “seeing with your ears“, today I ran across some research being done at the University of Washington  that will allow “hearing-impaired users might soon be able to use sign language over a mobile phone, like in Japan or Sweden”. The technology is based on the American Sign Language (ASL):

“The goal of the MobileASL project is to increase accessibility by making the mobile telecommunications network available to the signing Deaf community. Video cell phones enable Deaf users to communicate in their native language, American Sign Language (ASL).”

According to the article, a big obstacle in the U.S. is, not surprisingly, the ability to do two-way video using mobiles. Anyway, another interesting way in which mobile phones will be used in the near future.

Via Golden Swamp and SmartMobs

Image Credit: UW (see the ZDNet article)

Handheld Learning 2007, Day 1, Reflections on Pedagogy, Karin Andersson and Dale Hinch

Third presentation: Karin Andersson (Malmo University), Dale Hinch (Edexcel); Paper-Works (slideshow is here).

Integrating paper technologies, using novel displays and presentation devices, applications and cross-media/blended media content, understanding practices of publishers, supporting alternative forms of assessment…..

e-Scape (Goldsmiths College, University of London): the development of a system to facilitate design work: making it possible to assess the ability to generate and develop ideas, as well as prove them.

Prototype A. There’s a booklet to capture these that is used during the design task/project exam (by students), and during assessment (by the assessors/teachers).

Prototype B. A3 paper and PDA to capture sketches.

How can augmenting a paper-based design process support collaborative sketching? Technology-based sketching has limitations.

Prototype C. digital paper and digital pen. Can be time stamped. Opening up of the collaborative process because the drawing limitations of the technology are lifted. Teacher can also draw with his/her own pen.

The point is to augment an existing process with technology WITHOUT introducing a new gadget (that could disrupt the process), as is the case with the digital pen.

Sketching is a central part of the interaction.

The technology supports collaboration and cooperation.

Interesting presentation on a relatively simple and useful technology, especially for collaborative problem solving. The question is how kids know which pen is theirs when there are 25 in a room.

Anywhere, Anytime: Using Mobile Phones for Learning


Even though I haven’t posted much in my blog lately I’ve been very busy writing various pieces for publication. Here is one that came out today:

McNeal, T., & van ‘t Hooft, M. (2006, Winter). Anywhere, anytime: Using mobile phones for learning. Journal for the Research Center for Educational Technology.

The most interesting part of the article is probably the links and embedded videos about different kinds of cell phone projects. Please take a look, and post your reactions to the article on the complimentary discussion board, or as a comment to this blog post.

Image credit: topgold’s photostream:

Thank You Veterans

82nd.jpg    101.jpg

This post doesn’t have much to do with educational technology but it does with learning. Today, and really tomorrow (Saturday) we remember our veterans and I hope we’ve learned some lessons from them. I am thankful of the airborne troops who liberated Holland in 1944 and jumped with the 82nd and 101st during Operation Market Garden in 1944 (as well as the British and Polish paras who fought so gallantly in Arnhem). My life could be very different today if it hadn’t been for them.

Hopefully we’ve all learned at least something from their courage and sacrifices. For some thought-provoking cartoons about Veterans’ Day, please click here. A picture is worth a thousand words…….


Image Credits:

82nd Airborne:

101st Airborne:

Changing the Way We Look at the World


Most if not all of you reading this post will at least be familiar with Google Earth, which is a great tool to learn about the world today and hone your geography skills. However, for historical maps, I’ve yet to see a better site than the David Rumsey map collection. From the website’s intro:

The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has over 13,600 maps online. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century North and South America maps and other cartographic materials. Historic maps of the World, Europe, Asia and Africa are also represented. Collection categories include antique atlas, globe, school geography, maritime chart, state, county, city, pocket, wall, childrens and manuscript maps. The collection can be used to study history, genealogy and family history.

Read an article about the collection, take a Flash Tour of the collection (requires Flash), or view 360° panoramic images of the collection space. You can also view Japanese Historical Maps or fine art images from The AMICA Library.

This is an incredible collection of historical maps, available digitally and for free! Because they are digital, there are different ways to sort, aggregate, synthesize, and look at the maps. The About page states:

Presenting individual maps in a digital format literally breaks the boundaries of an atlas’s bookbinding, allowing the viewer to view single maps independent of their original encasing. With Luna Imaging’s Insight® software, the maps are experienced in a revolutionary way. Multiple maps from different time periods can be viewed side-by-side. Or, the end user can create their own collection of maps by saving groups of images that hold particular interest. Complete cataloging data accompanies every image, allowing for in-depth searches of the collection.

The collection’s owners really seem to get it, also because the collection is copyrighted under the Creative Commons License

I like this resource a lot, because it echoes what Judy Breck has been writing about recently, in that learning should occur online because current knowledge has moved there. She calls this the “global virtual knowledge ecology” (p. 44).  Breck argues for schools to adopt a new attitude toward the Internet, take advantage of a new access to information, and above all, benefit from the new aggregation of knowledge made possible by the Internet’s open content and “interconnectivity within and among subjects” (p. 46). Especially these last ideas of open content and interconnectivity are important and relevant for the map collection.

All in all, a great resource, so go check it out. Just make sure your pop-up blocker is off for this site, but it’s well worth it. A fast Internet connection is recommended as well.

Image Credit: the David Rumsey Collection: