Rich’s Blog: The real virtual world gold rush centers on the grammar-school set

New Yorks Times piece on virtual worlds for the grammar school kiddos:


“Get ready for total inundation,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer, who estimates that 20 million children will be members of a virtual world by 2011, up from 8.2 million today.

Worlds like Webkinz, where children care for stuffed animals that come to life, have become some of the WebÂ’s fastest-growing businesses. More than six million unique visitors logged on to Webkinz in November, up 342 percent from November 2006, according to ComScore Media Metrix, a research firm.

These trends should help the adaption rate of Edusim on interactive whiteboards/tablets in the K-12 classroom.

Rich’s Blog: The future of interactive surfaces in the classroom

Wikipedia information

Research has been carried out to track the worldwide Interactive Whiteboard market by Decision Tree Consulting (DTC) a worldwide research company

* Interactive Whiteboards continue to be the biggest technology revolution in classrooms

* Across the world there are over 750,000 boards installed

* Over 3 million classrooms are forecast to have Interactive Whiteboards installed by 2010

* UK is the biggest market with annual sales of 100k and 300k boards installed in around 75% of classrooms

* MexicoÂ’s Enciclomedia project to equip 145,000 classrooms is worth US$1.8 billion and is the largest education technology project in the world

Rich’s Blog: Why Should We Learn By Doing? – Schools competing for students imaginations


My Observations:

The Kids got a Wii this Christmas – so we un-boxed and set it up. The graphics are not what PS3 and XBox has to offer – but the interface is amazingly intuitive.

The kinetic/movement method to complete game tasks is amazingly powerful I have observed – Watching kids learn is an amazing experience … and devices like this have this sort of kinetic value that is hard to explain. The Natural input to explore and modify virtual objects seems so powerful as I watch the kids move in natural ways to accomplish virtual tasks. It seems Obvious physically touching the surface to move & interact with he objects are the next evolutionary steps – and perhaps a glove type of device to provide texture to those touched objects.

As I watch it occurs to me that schools are in the business of competing for kids imaginations – and with devices like these game consoles in the home, that will be hard. If the prevailing view of education is the lighting of a fire and not the filling of a bucket there needs to be engaging methods used to capture the students imagination.

Many schools have engaging interactive surfaces to capture students imaginations with – however it will require an understanding of todays student to use these surfaces correctly. And today, in a flattening world – the classroom surface does not have to be flat – it can be dimensional and engaging – and interactive.

Your thoughts and observations? Please share them here !


Smarttech meets with Greenbush to discuss Edusim – 3D environments

Smarttech made a visit to Greenbush Dec. 19th to observe the Edusim project – and discuss the possibility of bringing it (or something very similar – possibly a Qwaq forums service) into the Smarttech suite of products. The Edusim work is helping not just students, and teachers envision the potential of 3D virtual environments as learning tools, but the hardware makers also are imagining what a classroom might be like with robust Edusim like lessons on surfaces and 1:1 student tablets in the classroom.

Rich’s Blog: Interactive Surfaces are to 3D spaces what a mouse is to the GUI

"Interactive Surfaces are to 3D Spaces What a Mouse is to the GUI"

The importance of touch:


Gibson (1966) defines the haptic system as "The sensibility of the individual to the world adjacent to his body by use of his body". The haptic perceptual system is unusual in that it can include the sensory receptors from the whole body and is closely linked to the movement of the body so can have a direct effect on the world being perceived. The concept of haptic perception is closely allied to the concept of active touch that realizes that more information is gathered when a motor plan (movement) is associated with the sensory system, and that of extended physiological proprioception a realization that when using a tool such as a stick, the perception is transparently transferred to the end of the tool.


The term “haptics” was first introduced in 1931 and its origins can be traced back to the Greek words haptikos meaning able to touch and haptesthai which translates to able to lay hold of (Revesz, 1950; Krueger, 1989). Today the term, in its broadest sense, encompasses the study of touch and the human interaction with the external environment via touch. The field of haptics, inherently multidisciplinary, involves research from engineering, robotics, developmental and experimental psychology, cognitive science, computer science, and educational technology. This field has grown dramatically as haptic researchers are involved in the development, testing, and refinement of tactile and force feedback devices as well as supporting software that allow users to sense ("feel") and manipulate three-dimensional virtual objects (McLaughlin, Hespanha & Sukhatme, 2002).

Rich’s Blog: Edusim leads others to try Croquet worlds on surfaces (kinda)

Edusim leads others to try Croquet worlds on surfaces (kinda)


Our vision for haptics in Croquet/Virtual Environments have not gone un-noticed either !


Though our belief that touching the interactive whiteboard surface is haptic in nature (that it provides touch feedback) in and of itself – the need for the future surface to provide more feedback via mini electrical pulses would highten the user/educational experience

Or via a haptic stylus like the one we covered a few months ago – []