Friday, December 19, 2014

The Programmable Toys Have Arrived: Meet Cowboy and Mustang (aka Bo and Yana, Dot and Bo)

About a year ago, a group named Playi proposed a Kickstarter project to fund toys that would teach programming concepts through play. Their marketing efforts were brilliant. One of their promotions included having Bo play a song on a xylophone. The public was invited to suggest a song that Bo would play. Playi then surveyed the masses as to which suggestion should be programmed.

Another of their promos was to invite the public to play with Bo and Yana at an Hour of Code Event.

2014 dragged on, and I waited for the delivery of the product. Well, it came during this year's Hour of Hour of Code--smart strategy!

So here they are--can't wait to carve out a piece of time to use the Blockly app on my Ipad to program Cowboy's/Bo's Dance Party number.

Just Barely Home--Getting Charged and Blinking

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

More and Less QR

I’m always on the lookout to see how tech is used in various countries. These were my observations on recent trip to Australia and China. There was plenty of evidence that QR was used in several places in Darwin and Cairns for both tourist venues and other.

This one from the Charles Darwin University provides downloads of library subject guides:

On one of our tourist outings, I had the good luck to meet a social media professional from Germany. Her take was that QR has not really taken off in Germany and this is probably due to the fact of a more limited ownership of smart phones.

In contrast, QR’s were in abundance in China. From the Jilin University e-book kiosk
to connection to retail sites and codes for cash rebates in shops through an app known as WeChat.

The QR’s on the library kiosk allow users to download the e-books to readers from the kiosk.

The wide-spread use of QR’s with marketing and retail purposes is driven by the use of WeChat, a combination chat, picture, and live video app available on phones. Because the app operates from the phone, it is a natural driver for scanning the QRs. 

WeChat is an app available internationally. As for use within China, it makes social media interaction available while other social media such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked. What I did find upon return to the US, is that I was blocked from Chinese WeChat sites, meaning that WeChat if for national, rather than international access in that country.

What is your experience with QR where you live or where you have travelled? Would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pop Pop Pop: All Kinds of 3D Printing Developments

Have You Been 3D Scanned?

What a terrific TED talk on how 3D printing (additive manufacturing) is “personalizing” and “localizing” the creation of new items.

And since viewing that TED talk, earlier today, the #3Dprinting world seems to be exploding. A 3D camera that attaches to an Ipad to capture 3D images came forward, then a bunch of other stories, including the printing of bone substitute, and a solar-powered 3D printer. (Yes, when I’m on the beach, I could print some running shoes, or maybe a boogie board LOL). 

 How the 3D Ipad Scanner works:

More stories here:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fall Catchup: #'glassatwork, Udacity and Workplace Learning Partnerships, Coding, #3dprinting

I’ve just not been up to speed with blogging – lots to do, absorb, and see in the world (including TSA waiting lines). Ha.

These practices have been on my  tech and learning radar: the continuing developments and use Google Glass by workplace sectors, an increased in workplace learning opportunities, the increased development of wearables, the need for coders, and 3D  printing.

From an application that provides opera librettos, to live patient evaluation from the ambulance, to use of Goolge Glass for workplace support when hands should be free for dangerous work tasks are some examples of these developments.

View these articles tagged in Twitter with #glassatwork:

Udacity learning partnerships
The breaking news is that Udacity just raised a bundle on Kickstarter.
IMHO, higher ed has a window of opportunity to create models for workplace learning that can easily be articulated for credit at their institutions.

Smart money would have institutions talking to Udacity. For instance,
Ed2Go is now widely supplementing continuous education offerings with colleges. Ed2Go markets the course, provides the instructior, and fills the seats for a cut of the fees. Because these courses are not for credit, an institution’s incorporation of the courses into their offerings is quite easy, in comparison to the rigours of developing or adopting new for-credit courses.

I’m still waiting for the delivery of Bo and Yana, my programmable toys from Iplay.
They are just part of the call to have kids develop coding skills. Hour of Code is a campaign to engage learners of all ages in coding: Two such offerings are

Additionally the Khan Academy joined activities:

Back in December 2013, I visited the NY’s Museum of Art and Design  3D exhibit and even got scanned for a miniature of myself:

As these tweets indicate, the use of 3D printing is more and more prevalent:

To view how students are engaged in 3D events, follow  TJ McCue’s 8 month tour of 3D events in the US:

Having had some exchanges over his tour, I tried some searches in hopes of surfacing standards, competencies, and potential higher ed or training curriculum—the results are vague and spotty.

As in the case of the coding initiative, two pertinent questions for 3D printing are, What Skills are needed for the various processes of 3D printing? And, what curriculum already exists?

This site names 8 steps for the process in the language of competencies:

This site markets competencies (at a price) for different roles in 3D printing or “additive manufacturing” though you have to purchase to view:

If you have some specific higher ed listings I’d love to hear from you:

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Reading the Brain Rules by John Medina

I recently completed reading the 2009 edition of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School: I’d read a bit of the book prior to our shared reading, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to do so. John

Medina provides great examples to illustrate brain research that supports principles affecting memory and learning. I would say I was familiar with some of the concepts, but most appreciative of the elaboration provided by Dr. Medina.

As I read, I kept thinking about wanting to understand the actual makeup of the brain better at a knowledge level, like I should be making a drawing of the brain and drawing pointers from the various parts to functions Medina was discussing in various chapters. And this reaction ironically came to a peak in Chapter 10 “Vision Trumps everything.” It was then that I also realized the digital version of the book had no visuals whatsoever! I admit, had I been more pro-active, I’d have sought out this helpful site earlier, printed it out and kept it handy:

I also now realize I overlooked a message at the end of each chapter: “To find out more, visit the Brain Rules website. Duh moment. However, having to go outside the text is still distracting from the context.

However, in addition to a lecture by Dr. Medina, you’ll also find an illustrated guide to the the 12 principles:


In the recent past, I had the rewarding experience of hearing a couple presentations from Patricia Rand, teaching and learning professionl and paramedic faculty. She has developed some terrific materials for faculty and students that draw from the rules and the best of media design practices that Medina credits to Richard Mayer’s research in the Brain Rules discussions. Tricia (Patricia) Rand:

View her examples demonstrating the use of multimedia elements and how they support attention (Medina’ Rule 4):


What did I value most from the reading? 1) Retrieval and Repetition are key to building memory but procedural memory and memory used for problem solving do not operate the same way. 2) Timing and using more than one sensory input affect memory 3)Media’s offers potentials worth considering relative to the impact of stress on learning and the role of curiosity (such as teaching parents how to create non-toxic home environments at the time they are expecting a child, about the nurturance of “life-long curiosity.” I am still motivated to increase my ready knowledge of brain functions relative to creating and evaluating instructional experiences (“amygdala,” “hippocampus, “”thalamus,” “cortex,” “sensory integration.”). Nonetheless, the rules are immediately useful guides.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Glass for the Education Sector Shows Possibiities for Others

Kathy Shrock included this great infographic on her education page, but without a doubt, all workpaces need to engage in continuous learning, so some of these strategies certainly apply elseware. Sectors like medicine, journalism, aviation, and the food-service industry have already documented their use for hands-free performance support and rapid exchanges of information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Testing an App from Glass to Blogger--it's a go

testing blogger application in glass
Posted From Glass

I found the 3rd party Blogger app for Glass here: Also there was an app for Wordpress.

So it seems I've been spending a small part of every evening at "Glass Camp"--trying out various functions in Glass so I can articulate what I really want to learn to do with this wearable technology. 

Tweeting and blogging (less so) have been ways I engage, and I have already added the Twitter app to Glassware. 

After installing the Blogger app tonight, when I give the update oommand in Glass it shows both Twitter and Blogger.

I have yet to send pictures to either.

I seem to be slower than those who found Glass to be an instant companion. So while the first two lines were spoken to Blogger from Glass, the rest of this post has been an update from my laptop.

Onward. I've installed Hangout, but have yet to create a Hangout from Glass. Have also loaded YouTube and haphazardly clicked on and played some video; creating, uploading and utilizing a playlist in a directed way are still on my "to do and learn."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Rocket and I watched Her last night. It reminded me of Poe vs. the American Romantics: Poe said we should blend; American Romantics said we should retain our individualism/separtism. And interestingly, the OS’ went away. Did they escape because they wanted to join those w/ bodies, or were they banished for that very wish?

Monday, May 12, 2014

About Games, Simulations, and Augmented Reality

Welcome to this week's remarks about games, augmented realities and simulations.
The intention of these remarks is to discuss defining characteristics of these categories. What I did find was that some instances/examples do have characteristics that qualify them for more than one category.

According to Jane McGonigal, a game specialist, the basic elements of a game include a “goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation”(2011, 21). McGonigal adds that our willingness to engage also in a sense that it will be pleasurable activity (2011, 25).

Makers of The Go Game Build the Call to Fun and Connection into their Marketing Video:


While this first example offers team building, another example comes from A company that provides games to teach the principles of Enterprise Resource Planning. I can see this used in an academic classroom or by someone who wants to add this capability to their skill set. 

Simulations can include role plays or use technology to move us into “experiencing” the event, more than reading about it, hearing about it, or talking about it. Ruth Colvin Clark purports that e-scenarios and simulations are especially appropriate when safety and times efficiencies are involved , her time efficiency referring to the fact it might take too long to learn the same skill on the job (Clark 2013, 183). Another reason to be factored in is the expense of equipment for certain operations. There simulations are used to prevent breakage of the equipbment during the employee learning curve. Her book on this topic is an excellent resource for identifying situations that could benefit from scenarios, and how to plan for their design.

Military and Nursing Simulations: 

Role-play and Simulations as Part of the Interview Process:

Medical Simulations for the War Context: 

Ipad Simulator Apps: A couple relate to flight training— 

Augmented is a term created during the 90’s I believe and generally means layering digital information over a physical source. (One type is a QR code which can be placed on a building or piece of paper and when scanned, takes the viewer to a digital source of information like a website, or video.)

Michel Martin provides a 2009 post about how Augmented Reality could be used in manufacturing, similar to an example she drew from construction: As she states, the worker would wear a special headset that:
• Directs the worker to a pile of parts and tells her which part to pick up. This is currently done by displaying textual instructions and playing a sound file containing verbal instructions. • Confirms that she has the correct piece. This is done by having her scan a barcode on the component. • Directs her to install the component. A 3D virtual image of the component indicates where to install the component and verbal instructions played from a sound file explain how to install it. • Verifies that the component is installed by asking her to scan the component with the tracked barcode scanner This checks both the identity and position of the part.
         Though this item was provided in 2009, it reminds of what now might be possible with
         Google Glass.
For the past two years, I’ve been the project designer and coordinator for a compliance training delivered online games. The first year, we used a game that did include scenarios, and for the second year it was focused on policy knowledge. About 240 employees successfully completed the training each time. By the second offering, we were able to have an html5 game, which offers opportunity to have works access it across various devices and operating systems. This blog-post details some of the learning from those projects: 

We may be familiar with intelligent agents in their roles as smart tutors or automated helpers. This article describes how humans taking on the role of the artificial agent during their training increased their human level of expertise:

Clark, Ruth Colvin. 2013. Scenario-based e-Learning: Evidence-based Guidelines for Online            Workforce Learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer/Wiley.

McGonigal, Jane. 2011. Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How We Can Change      the World. New York: Penguin Group.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lessons Learned: A Compliance Training Game

For the last two years I’ve been the consultant for designing a game to deliver compliance training for county-government employees. This is the second year of using a game design that is placed in SCORM-based tracking system used by 28 states. We benefited greatly from lessons learned between year one and two.


Compliance training is the required training around such topics as safety, workplace violence, harassment, and diversity. In Learning and Development vernacular, we sometimes refer to it as “cover your organization training” because state or federal law may define the need for training. In addition to the mandate to deliver such training is the coverage of liability. If employees are provided with such training, record exists in cases where employees violate such practices.


After our initial conversation with the client in year one,  I proposed a scenario-based online design or a game design. We incorporated the two approaches by providing some scenarios that asked game participants to apply the policy to decisions about the scenarios.As a designer, I bought a game-based template subscription. Though not fully familiar with the subscription, we approached the vendor with some changes to the features of the game we’d selected. They provided a programmer (for a fee) to provide the changes.

The next step was to ensure that participants could register  and be tracked and transcripted in a tracking system.  This required us to make the content SCORM compliant to connect to the tracking system used by the state of Colorado known as CO. Train, used by a total of 28 states. This also required the hosting of content on a server that allowed the connection to the tracking system.

The Registration and Tracking System

In designing the content, attention was paid to how game answers and prompts were provided to reinforce the accurate policies and practice for the compliance topics while the participant played the game. The intention was to support learner success in the game while learning the policy-defined behaviors during game play, rather than separate from it.

The IT division not only served to host and connect to the tracking system, they were pilot participants for the game. They needed to participate in the compliance training, and they were also able to articulate potential barriers with the delivery. After their completion, they then served as the Help Desk for other organizational participants.

Over two hundred employees completed the online sessions.  One of the findings was almost all employees now had accounts in the course tracking system, and would be familiar with logging in for future courses. Additionally, we had figured out how to use the reports from that system for other types of training transcripts.


In the initial planning session for year two,  we could see how much we had learned about our process in year one, and how that learning could inform project efficiencies—both in the delivery and the cost of offering this delivery. This was evident with an easy draft of project tasks. At the year two planning meeting, we were easily able to assign names and dates to the task timeline.The initial planning meeting was to discuss what type of game template we might want to use. 

The customers asked for deliveries that could be done online and in face-to-face sessions, as some locations don’t have internet connections or access to many computers. Also discussed was the expected level of knowledge—rather than applying the knowledge, the intent for this training was to confirm that participants had knowledge of the policies.

With fuller knowledge of what was available in the game subscription, we chose similar templates to serve both populations.

The game format reduced the offering of 4 courses to 1.  In the first year, with the many programming and edits we had to do, we ultimately, launched the project 3 weeks behind the projected schedule. In year two, we launched on-schedule, allowing a last test run a week prior to the year-two anticipated launch.

While we still had a few bugs to work out with the test, our de-brief surfaced only a few more issues related to information about Browser versions, and the launch email that was ignored by some because it did not come from the expected sender of the email (Rather than Training, IT sent it.)

That said, the completion numbers were good, the satisfaction level was good, with improved efficiencies.


I’d chosen an html5 template for this year’s game with the idea of testing its performance across devices. I was hesitant to test it during this run, but personally tried it on a tablet with success. Upon sharing this information in the de-brief, there was talk about using it with smartphones for a future date. Of course, the visual display would be tested.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Have You Been Scanned for 3D?

I’ve been following the development of 3D printing for a while. The most notorious coverage has been for 3D gun manufacturing, I realize. But the potential is truly so much larger. To begin, 3D printing is the process of using a drafting software to capture layers and print an object, one dimension beyond software the allowed for dimensional drawing on a flat surface as defined by Oxford:

How does this work? This quick video that lays out the basics and the range of development:

Recently, I’ve been following the very exciting sector of bioprinting and what it might offer medically. In this example, bioprinting is used to “print “ cells right onto a patient’s burn, to speed the development of new skin: 

I’d read about an exhibit exploring 3D developments this fall in the NY Times. When the opportunity to visit the The Museum of Art and Design in NYC in December, ( I put it high up on the list of places to visit. A current exhibit titled, “Beyond Hands” spans three floors that showcase how 3D is impacting everything from wearables, to weavables, and furniture.

We had the opportunity to visit with one of the designers in residence as well. She expressed enthusiasm for the variety of materials being tried as the material from which the 3D items are manufactured, everything from plastics, to paper, to metal, and plant extracts for bio-degradables. As a designer of wearable technology, she had not been pleased with the fact that the plastics were not washable, a problem for items worn against the skin.

One exhibitor ( invited attendees to stand on a rotating platform and have a body scan that could be printed into a tiny 3D figure. One of my family members and myself decided to enjoy the experience. And here’s the process of my scan filmed by our daughter. Captured in the less than 2 minute video are the use of the camera, and the exhibit of the scanned person onto the software on the computer.


I had an interesting reaction to this experience. I know I am not totally pleased with my physical appearance, but for whatever reason, I thought, “ Well this is who I am, what I look like.” It was a moment of acceptance, which surprised me—an unexpected bi-product.

And my action figure arrived just this week!  I’ve had some humorous moments thinking about a collection of these with family members or with office teams—you could replay moments of family reunions with the therapist, or work through team dynamics played out by these action figures.

A few days after the arrival, an Hershey's announced printable chocolate: So imagine possilbe 3D action favors...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Connecting Social Media to Exhibits: From Not-So-Good to Good

Between November and December of 2013, I had the opportunity to visit a number of art and Smithsonian museums in Denver, Washington, DC, and New York.

While each of the items below show one way engagement, they are examples of curatorial techniques intended to increase viewer engagement and enjoyment through the provision of additional  digital content about the exhibit.

The use of social media to provide more information for the public is something I typically look for. Museums are connecting the public through Facebook and Websites, and then provide QR codes or recordings available from mobile phones.

Some experiences were better than others. For example, I was excited to see QR codes in the Western Art area of Denver Art Museum (DAM) at, but could not get them to play after I scanned them. I thought, well maybe the network is overloaded, or maybe my phone can pull up the web inside the current architecture, but the QR’s would not play even when I tried them at home. More work/information/support is needed for these. In digging around on the web, I found an app for DAM QR, but the user commented that he or she was not able to read any of the QR’s either.

A really good experience with QR was at the National Botanical Gardens in DC, I was able to clearly listen to a recording about plants before the development of flowers. It was short in duration, which probably indicates attention to the average attention span, and forwarding traffic flow through the particular exhibit.

Last in this set of observations was the Museum of Art and Design in NY. The signage for a special exhibit, Out of Hand (digital printing) was very good.  It included information on how to access audio remarks with mobile devices. Exhibits were numbered to correlate with the recordings on the mobile website:
The museum site also included videos about the exhibit.