Archive for January 26, 2010

A new medium to engage students: Electronic pop-up books

I love Leah Buechley’s imagination for the roles that computing can play, especially from a child’s perspective.  We are trying to incorporate her wearable, textile computing into our Georgia Computes! Girl Scout workshops.  Her new project, electronic pop-up books, looks wonderful.  (Do click on the below link and see the gorgeous picture.)  I loved looking at my kids’ pop-up books and the inventive things created there.  Computational pop-up books sound like a wonderful medium to engage new computationalists.

Venus fly traps spring up invitingly from one page; sensors in the trap’s jaws respond to the user’s touch, gently closing around the probing finger as it withdraws. The sensors control the amount of electric current flowing through springs in the leaf. The springs are made of the shape memory alloy nickel-titanium and contract to close the leaf shut as their coils are heated by the current. The leaves reopen as the wire cools.

via Embedded electronics bring pop-up books to life – tech – 21 January 2010 – New Scientist.

January 26, 2010 at 10:36 am Leave a comment

Kindles vs. Smartphones: Age matters, Testing matters

A study out of the University of Georgia (insert snide remark required of Georgia Tech faculty here, please) suggests that Kindles won’t replace newspapers for daily reading until additional features are added.  What I found most interesting about the study was that the desired features split by age.  Younger readers prefer smartphones–which I personally found bonkers.  I far prefer reading on my Kindle to my smart phone (tiny font, short lines, glaring backlight). But then, I’m not in that demographic.  Got me thinking about the challenge of me predicting what students will like in my classes, and the necessity of user-testing of ideas since I know that my intuition is wrong.  (Not quite “usability” testing — maybe “engagability” or “teachability” testing?)

While adults of all ages were impressed by the readability of the Kindle screen, describing it as “easy on the eyes,” few considered it a primary way to read news, the study found.Young adults in particular compared the Kindle DX used in the study unfavorably to smart phones, such as the iPhone or Blackberry. The e-reader felt “old” to them.Older adults were overall more receptive to the concept of an e-reader. However, the Kindle failed to include aspects of the traditional newspaper they had grown fond of, such as comics and crossword puzzles.

via UGA study: Kindles unlikely to help newspapers – Atlanta Business Chronicle:.

January 26, 2010 at 10:19 am 2 comments


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