November 9, 2009

Interactive Learning Experiences in Libraries

Filed under: blog,precat — Tags: , , , — tsladmin @ 10:43 pm

I was happy to see some new faces presenting at last month’s Internet Librarian conference, with one of them being Will Kurt. While I had a bad cold and couldn’t attend all of the sessions I wanted to, I’m glad I was able to make it to his session because it represented what I hope is one growing trend.
Will’s first presentation at #il2009 was about the anatomy application he’s developed for medical students at the University of Nevada Reno, using a Microsoft Surface table. Both DOK and the Darien Public Library are using Surface tables to present information visually (and Gretchen Hams gave a great talk after Will’s about Darien’s experience), but Will’s app is the first learning application that I’ve seen that was created by a library. Students are responding positively, and usage statistics are going up. It sounds like a win-win situation all the way around, assuming you can afford a Surface table ($12,000+).

In addition, you can watch a video of Will’s presentation.
I also saw a presentation about an interesting project at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County about “interactive learning rooms” they’ve created for students, which are essentially study rooms with interactive whiteboard walls. The whiteboards are added for the incredibly low cost of one Wiimote (about $40) using Johnny Chung Lee’s Wiimote hacks. If you don’t have a Surface table, this is an interesting and much less expensive step in that direction. I love the idea of interactive spaces in libraries, and I hope this trend grows, too.
Libraries are all about enhancing learning, and this seems to me like another step towards getting away from pure lecture or text-based instruction. Along with technology/gadget “petting zoos,” instruction that incorporates gaming principles, and the recent crop of “23 Things” programs for the public, I have hope for more experiential learning experiences created by libraries, not just using technology and tools as new ways of presenting information and maps.
I’d love to hear about anything your library is doing to implement interactive learning experiences and environments.
My notes from Will’s talk:

Ubiquitous Computing and the Microsoft Surface at UNR – Will Kurt, Applications Development Librarian
Computers should plug in to us, not the other way around
MIT’s Sixth Sense project
We bring our computer with us now (smartphones), not go to it
Microsoft Surface table – okay for coffee and even changing babies on it
Playing with pictures has been relatively popular on their Surface
Their admissions office really likes the concierge application that gives you campus information
have 5 minutes to impress prospective students and their parents
Kids *love* this and they always rush to it
Shows how intuitive the interface is
Most people thought this was a ridiculous expense
Had to go in to creating in-house applications
“successful new technologies need to be perceived as valuable, not novel”
Put The Tree of Life game on it
people didn’t like it at first because it’s not a traditional game but then they got into it, experimenting with the rules and playing with their friends
Then Microsoft released a second set of apps
Checkers, chess – Surface lets you visualize the rules on the board
Don’t try to emulate web browsers on a Surface because it has one tiny screen as your whole world and one touch point
You can bring all kinds of content from the net into the Surface environment
They built an app of high-resolution anatomy images
Surfaces are multi-touch *and* multi-user
Add something to where the students already are, working together, in a natural way
They can put their lab on the table and it has data about it
This has been hugely successful – have 2 units available and it got more than 70 hours of usage in just the first two weeks
Every student he’s talked to absolutely love it – it’s useful, so it transcends just novelty

My notes from The Wiimote IWB and Library Instruction – May Chang, Shu Qian, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC):

All they need to do this on the cheap is a wiimote, Bluetooth download, and interactive pen – that’s it!
Wiimotes cover a 45 degree angle, so if you have two, you can pretty much cover the whole area
This type of setup is portable, too, whereas an Interactive White Board isn’t
Created “active learning rooms” – auto logins when they book the room
Chemistry and art students love it – drawing with a pen is much more natural than using a mouse
2 options for instructional software for Wiimote Interactive Whiteboard
– Activeinspire studio version
– can also use Microsoft tools like OneNote and Powerpoint with the sharing tools
Did pilot instruction sessions for the international students at the English Language Center

1 Comment

  1. […] The Shifted Librarian) Share and […]

    Pingback by Liberal Education Tomorrow: » Creating learning content with the Surface — November 11, 2009 @ 10:02 am

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