During the week I have been introduced to students, eminent professors and company directors all the while seeing technologies being used in many different ways. From a simple note taker called a Pomera that has a normal sized keyboard but folds into a pocket book sized device using SD cards and 2 AAA batteries to the latest Anoto digital pen used for research and assessments.
The Anoto pen captures writing on the specialist paper containing a gird of dots that allows the actual timing of writing and way the characters are made to be captured. The data is transferred to the computer in XML format and used in Excel as well as specialist program that also has the video of the process allowing an analysis of the speed of writing from start to finish as well as the way each letter or character is written.
This process allows for some very accurate assessments of handwriting skills both in schools and when using copying exercises in Psychology tests.
As a Speech Therapist I was fascinated by a wonderfully simple ihorn – not an iphone app or speaker but a device for allowing a person who had lost their voice to be heard by someone else.
Finally, when it comes to portable scanning the little Fujitsu Scansnap copied a batch of papers for Optical Character Recognition and text to speech use in no time – straight onto an iPhone for listening to as an Mp3 file!
A visit to Expo 2010 was a fascinating experience with the most beautiful wooden classroom furniture, learning aids and relaxation activities jostling for space amongst the very latest in cameras, scanners, visualisers, printers and software. The amount of pamphlets, shiny brochures and papers also made one realise the challenge for Japan to develop digital text books for schools let alone developing text to speech that will read across the page, down the page, find the gaps for meaning and work out the differences that occur between over 6,000 characters, some which represent concepts and others that represent sounds.
Mitsumura Tosho Publishing Co Ltd had on show the most beautifully illustrated reading book that provided the student with not only the text version but a CD with real speech tracking the text, individual character support, dictionary and worksheets. It was an example of the student being able to work independently through the book whereas many of the other digital books on show were for the teachers to work from whilst the children had the original paper based textbook.
There were many cameras and visualisers on show for use with white boards of all descriptions. The one that caught my eye was a small inexpensive iPevo that could be used with zoom and various levels of colour contrast. Automatic focus and extremely portable and only requiring a USB computer connection.
The white or smart boards all tended to be of the fixed variety or on large stands but one system called the eBeam (available in UK) is very portable and could be fixed to most surfaces, linked to a laptop and provide many of the interactive opportunities offered by the larger boards.
Where schools have very large televisions there is the chance to turn them into blackboards – a little retro for some but it provides another opportunity for a hands on experience! Izumi were offering this protective cover for very large screens.
There were little memo pads like the Boogie Board mentioned in the last post – the one that I would have liked was called the Mamemo TM1 and some amazing 3D camera technology. I tried to capture a flavour of the 2D experience changing into a 3D. The skeleton literally leapt out from the screen at all angles and it was hard to capture the result! (well that is my excuse for my poor technololgy skills – the movie that resulted was 31MB so sorry only a picture of a static skeleton! )
Having arrived at the centre for AT2Ed at the University of Tokyo RCAST I immediately learnt about the Thursday morning meetings to discuss the latest technologies that are available. It appears from the team’s blog (translation best viewed in Internet Explorer!) that the Ipad is the recent talking point. This was borne out on Tuesday evening when it was time to explore Shibuya and discover the true meaning of a weak pound! (It is expensive here at the moment!)
Rumi Hirabayashi (taking a PhD in dysgraphia and technology) using her iPad guided me around the area as can be seen from the picture. Whilst walking around I learnt more about several apps that helped when translation was lacking!
The Hitsudan Patto app can be used with the iPad positioned between two people to text each other rather like the view you have using a Tony Churchill Lightwriter. However, with the ipad it is possible to draw as well as type.
The next app that Rumi showed me if we could not hear or see eachother in the crowd – it is called iBannerHD – a LED scrolling banner of words or symbols!
But the one I liked the most was iBrainstorm – a free mindmapping app which allows you to move post-its around with links drawn where you like. Text can be written by hand or on the post-it via the keyboard. It is possible to rub out mistakes etc and when complete email the result or save as a picture.
All these apps work on an iphone as well.
Tomorrow we are off to the New Education Expo 2010 in Tokyo for the next batch of new strategies and technologies!
Just leave messages on the office door via the BoogieBoard!