Its Taking Awhile …. But were Getting There: Collaborative Technologies in the Classroom

For nearly 12 years now I have had a very deep interest in the possibilities of collaborative web technology in education.  When I started creating these tool of my own 4-5 years ago a few of these technologies seemed  obvious to make their way into the mainstream classroom (eventually o.O), namely open source educational software, open source (if you will) learning content (think open courseware), collaborative learning tools (almost all of the web 2.o tools out there now) , and 3D immersive environments (with natural user interfaces ala the Ipad 😉 ).   Over the past few years much of these technologies seem to be making good progress towards common classroom adoption, and in some cases  even approaching main stream.

As I follow these trends I take particular note of just how main stream some of these technologies are becoming,  in a article today in ars technica a few of these technologies are discussed (via

In the first of two rounds, The Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) awarded $10.6 million to 29 organizations, with the potential for an additional $5.4 million to be doled out later. Close to half of the initial $10.6 million went to open courseware projects that seek to publish adaptable Web-based courses for the public.

The funded initiatives focus on four areas:

  • Open courseware
  • “Blended learning,” the mixture of in-class time with online learning
  • “Deeper learning,” the use of social media and virtual worlds to increase student engagement
  • “Learner analytics,” analytical software to retain and use student data

Other projects of interest:



Hands Free Avatar Navigation (IE Microsoft Kinetic) is Nothing New

The “Kinect” frenzy has hit a fevered pitch … Its the next front in natural user interface design … and it nothing new … as as we know with Microsoft (or Apple for that matter), if they are doing it, someone else was doing it many years before …. in this case that someone was Mitch Kapor, and here is his hands free 3D avatar control prototype over two and a half years ago :

GreenbushLabs 3D Immersive Learning & Advanced Visualization

Having designed, developed, and researched immersive learning experience for K-12 students through the GreenbushLabs project over the past 5 years, below are four of the more promising development to come out of our GreenbushLabs 3D Immersive Learning & Advanced Visualization work

  • GreenbushLab Edusim Project (2007)
    • The Edusim application is a slimmed down version of the core Open Cobalt Metaverse Project. Edusim is a 3D multi-user virtual world platform and authoring toolkit intended for your classroom interactive whiteboard (but equally powerful on the students laptop or desktop computers !). Cobalt – Edusim has been tested and works on the Smartboard, Activeboard, Interwriter, Polyvision, Mimio, eBeam, and even the Wiimote Whiteboard. Edusim is extendable allowing multiple classrooms to connect their interactive whiteboards for collaborative learning session. Edusim as a concept seeks to model a new we to engage student through “immersive touch” by leveraging 3D virtual environments on the interactive surface or classroom interactive whiteboard.
  • GreenbushLabs Quick Cave Project (2008)
    • The Quick Cave was a first run prototype of a simple to assemble, open hardware (made of easily accessible & constructable materials) 2 walled immersive learning hardware for the K-12 classroom
  • GreenbushLabs Mobile Immersive Learning Lab Project (2008)
    • The MILL prototype was a second run prototype of a simple to assemble, open hardware (made of easily accessible & constructable materials) 3 walled immersive learning hardware for the K-12 classroom
  • GreenbushLabs Immersive Touch Lab Project (2009)
    • Is an expansion of the Edusim concept in bringing in “3D immersive touch” tablets to the Edusim classroom learning experience

Greenbush Labs Turns 5

5 years ago next month Greenbush Labs was launched. Greenbush Labs was started as a platform for me to log notes, evangelize the knowledge management affordances of the newer (at the time) Web 2.0 technologies, and to “brain dump” innovative educatioanl technologies.  Over the past 5 years it has grown to serve as a broader platform for innovative educational technologies and has served as a launch based for internal Greenbush projects such as the Podcast Directory (2006) ,  3D Immersive Education Projects (2006) , 3D Immersive Touch & Edusim (2007), GreenbushTV(2007), the Mobile Immersive Learning Lab (2008), & Scratch as an Interactive Whiteboard Application Tool Kit (2010).  Cheers to 5 more years !



Current Immersive Education Work & Notes

Current Immersive Education Work & Notes

  • Co-Charing the new Immersive Education Consortiums “Primary/Elementary Immersive Education Technology Work Group” –
    • Working on the Charter with Karen & Wes (The other Co-Chairs)
  • Working with Dr. Rosemary Talab on a study of “self efficacy of middle school students in STEM subjects using 3D virtual worlds”
  • Minor tweaks of OpenCobalt for Edudim Alpha 12 (prior to the start of the Middle School World Builders Group starting next month)
  • Continuing to build out the virtual learning world repositories at &

3D Immersive Touch and the Ipad

After working on the 3D immersive touch user interface for nearly 4 years it is becoming obvious that the interactive surface and 3D collide in a rather large way over the coming years. With the IPad (predictably) ushering in this new age, it should come as no surprise to see “Epic Citadel” as being well worthy of the “3D immersive touch” moniker.

The 3D map of everything

Combined with an environment like Opensim … This could be very very useful !

“Every location–indoor and outdoor–in the universe will eventually be mapped, and we’ll have it all online,” Zakhor says in the video. “So without ever going anywhere you can see what everybody’s interior looks like.”