Ohio TESOL 2009 was 10/31-11/1 in Columbus, Ohio.
Ivan and I presented the $50 Interactive Whiteboard to a standing-room-only audience of other teachers of English to speakers of other languages at Ohio TESOL this weekend. Not only have I now distributed all five from my original Ohio TESOL grant, but I’ve also got over a dozen people signed up for test drives. Looks like I need to write another grant.
If you’re reading this and you’re a member of Ohio TESOL, let me know if you’re interested in test-driving this technology. We might be able to put one in your hands soon!
An Infrared LED as seen through the camera on a cell phone.
Look at it through your cell phone’s camera. What a great tip! 8 more can be found at Wiimote Project.com. I’m a little bit behind the curve on some of this stuff, but they’ve got great info on building IR pens for Wiimote interactive whiteboards and building them right.
Next week, Ivan and I present our progress at Ohio TESOL. From there, one or both of us will be headed to TESOL and, if accepted, CALICO. If you see us, come say, “Hi!”
Ivan explores his $50 interactive whiteboard.
I put another $50 interactive whiteboard in another teacher’s hands recently. Ivan primarily teaches in the ESL composition program at Ohio State. After doing the mandatory “hi” in MS Paint, Ivan began asking some really interesting questions. He wants to be able to interact with longer texts. For example, he would like to show an example paragraph from a student’s composition to the class and then mark it up as he would a paper: crossing things out, drawing arrows, highlighting key points, etc. Essentially, Ivan would have liked to make the background of the Paint program transparent so that he could draw or write on his text.
I know that Smart Technologies (makers of Smart Boards) have proprietary software that can do this. The Smart application, from what I know, also has a text-capture component which converts your handwriting into text that can be imported into another application. I assumed that we were discovering where our $50 version came up short.
But, as we were poking around within PowerPoint, we discovered that it is possible to change the pointer into a pen so that you can draw on your slides. So, PowerPoint already has a feature that converts your mouse into a pen and we have a device that converts a pen into your mouse. Our excitement at this prospect must have been akin to the first person to drop a bar of chocolate into a jar of peanut butter. We could use the infrared pen to write on the slides!
Ivan was pretty excited, as you can see from the second photo. His version of PowerPoint has options for pen, marker, and highlighter. Mine only has the pen. Peter (ESL Tech Support) tells me that not all versions have this feature, or some components may have to be installed the first time you try it, but it’s worth exploring because this is an interesting way to interact with the text.
Ivan also discovered that his laptop has tablet-PC software installed, which may include some text-capture features. I’ll post his findings as they are made and as we keep discovering new uses for this technology.
I got a chance to use the $50 Interactive Whiteboard in class today and it worked … eventually. I won’t say there weren’t challenges, but most of them were due to the fact that I had just downloaded everything to my Macbook this morning and wasn’t really comfortable with the setup. It seems that the Wiimote’s bluetooth connection needs to be configured from scratch every time. I’ll soon be very good at doing this quickly, I suspect. Once I get the exact steps figured out, I’ll post them
Yesterday, my Field Experience class took a tour of the Ohio Statehouse and I couldn’t resist including a Hot Potatoes matching activity as part of the Jeopardy PowerPoint game that I created to review the information we covered before and during the trip. The two students who tried it took to the IR pen very naturally, as you can see in the pictures. Their teammates enjoyed cheering them on as they completed the activity.
The only problems were a result of my design. Because I was in a rush, I included the pictures without any editing. Even shrunk to 200 pixels, they were pretty big and the column of five extended below the bottom of the screen. Using thin little scrollbars at the side of a window can be a little too delicate for a student picking up the pen for the first time. I’ve since cropped the pictures. Give it a try!
I plan to try a few more ideas and activities to work the bugs out. Stay tuned
Here is the video from my demonstration last week. I’ve included examples of interacting with web documents, text documents, hot potatoes activities, Google Maps, games, and more. I even gave Rob his Wiimote back and bought my own. (Thanks for the longterm loan, Rob!) The next step is to put the software on my Macbook so that I can use it in any classroom equipped with a digital projector, which is almost all of the ones I teach in.
It’s working! This is a quick, down and dirty video of the prototype. Most of our early problems came from our pen, but these were quickly resolved. After that, it was relatively easy to calibrate and it worked equally well on a whiteboard and on a light colored wall.
In the video I mistakenly mention that the pen’s button acts like the right mouse button, but it’s actually the left. Imagine interacting with any and all of your computer applications this way. There are some really interesting possibilities out there. I’m looking forward to experimenting with this using Word, Hot Potatoes web-based activities, and more. Do you have other ideas? Leave me a comment.