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j-white
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« on: May 16, 2008, 10:44:51 AM »

GPS – students with learning difficulties

I’ve recently been using a ‘HP iPAQ hw6915 Mobile Messenger’ PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) handheld computer with built-in camera and GPS (Global Positioning System) features. I’ve used it with a small group of Entry Level (learning difficulties) students, during their Edexcel ‘Introduction to Computers’ unit. The students are all aged 16 years and over and are enrolled on part-time and full-time faculty-based courses.

They initially used the PDA to access the Internet (via WiFi) and played the games built into the Microsoft Windows Mobile (v.5.0) operating system. They also got used to the touch screen/stylus, which wasn’t a major obstacle as many students own a touch screen sensitive mobile phone and/or a Nintendo DS.

I wanted them to use the built-in camera and GPS to take advantage of these functions. Thus, the group have taken turns to take outdoor photographs of buildings/vegetation around the college campus. They learnt to wait whilst the PDA had a ‘lock’ on orbiting satellites, so the latitude/longitude (EXIF) data was saved with the image, thus geotagging it.

They used Bluetooth to send the geotagged images to a laptop. The images were uploaded to my account on the Flickr (www.flickr.com) photo sharing website. (Incidentally, make sure you allow Flickr to ‘Automagically import GPS information as geo data’ - www.flickr.com/account/geo/exif). Once uploaded to Flickr, they clicked on ‘Organize’, then ‘Map’. This process places the photos on a world map, so they could see exactly where they were located when they took the photo. By clicking on ‘Explore this map’ they were able to view other geotagged images around the world.

The next stage is to extend the GPS feature of the PDA using Create-A-Scape (www.createascape.org.uk) to design GPS-based trails within the college campus and beyond. The group have already used a GPS-based outdoor game called ‘Stamp the Mole’. If you have problems downloading the ‘Mscape toolkit’, like I did, here is the direct link: http://www.mscapers.com/tools/mscape-2.1.exe

I would be very grateful for ideas from other people who have used GPS with students with learning difficulties within a Further Education environment.

Many thanks

Jonathan
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neil@wildkey
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« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 04:44:36 PM »

Hello Jonathan....GPS and handhelds is what we do at WildKey....coming from a background of GIS and spatial information...the whole ethos of WildKey was born the day some bright spark stuck a GPS and PDA together!....I personally feel that one of the main advantages of mobile learning is the ability to recieve or create info about a particular place.....as such we have 3 applications which may be of interest to you
1) WildKey - decison tree program to help novices identify and record wildlife sightings using GPS
2) WildData - recording form program (you create the form and get the kids to undertake the survey..again can gather spatial info)
3) WildMap - interactive trails that contain Point of Interest with multimedia info (videos, taxt, auio, multichoice q's)

We have use WildKey with special needs no problem and at the end of the month are with Aylesbury College Special needs pupils to undertake 3 examples of the above (they are identifying fruit, undetaking a treasure trail of the college and creating a survey)....next month we are launching our new website which will allow you to subscribe and share content so let me know if you need more info
cheers
Neil
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j-white
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2008, 10:51:31 PM »

Neil. Many thanks for responding to my query. I’ll use the mediascape software for the meantime, but may consider your software programs in the future.

In addition to the ‘HP iPAQ hw6915’ handheld computer I now have access to four ‘HP iPAQ 614c Business Navigator’ (Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Professional) PDA/smart phone as well, which all have built-in GPS.

I’ve synchronised all five iPAQs to a central laptop, so I can synchronise files. This is achieved by a mini-USB iPAQ cable which links the iPAQ to the laptop, in association with Microsoft ActiveSync software. As a result I have transferred several mediascapes (GPS based activities downloaded from www.mscapers.com) from the laptop onto the iPAQs. I have also downloaded and transferred ‘Macromedia Flash Player 7 for Pocket PC’ (www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer_pocketpc/downloads/player.html) which is required by some of the readymade portable mediascapes.

I read through the excellent ‘mscape Help Pages’ - http://wiki.mscapers.com/bin/view/Main/WebHome - and used their easy-to-follow ‘Using Mscape Toolkit’ instructions - http://wiki.mscapers.com/bin/view/Main/CreatingAMediascapeUsingMscapeMaker - to produce a simple mediascape around the local area where I live for testing purposes.

It is claimed that “children as young as Year 6 can grasp the basic concepts and build a simple mediascape in an hour” (www.createascape.org.uk/teachers_area/guidelines/key_things.html), so I thought I’d ask some of my Information Technology students, working at Entry 3, to use it to see if they could produce a simple mediascape for use around their college.

They opened the mscape software (downloaded from www.mscapers.com/software), imported the images* and audio, and imported a local map via the ‘mscape Map Service’. Unfortunately when they zoomed in the relatively small size of the college campus meant only ‘Map’ view, featuring town and road names, was available and not ‘Sat’ (satellite) or ‘Hyb’ (Hybrid). This meant the students could only place their ‘regions’ where a road leading into the college terminated or by guessing the likely location.
*Taken whilst producing an audio-visual trail (www.symbolworld.org/learning/life_skills/it/audio_visual_trail/audiovis1.htm) before Easter.

The next stage is to test their mediascape. I’m praying for good weather (www.bbc.co.uk/weather)!

Jonathan
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j-white
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2008, 08:18:11 PM »

The group were able to use their mediascape earlier this week. The two ‘regions’ placed where a road leading into the college terminated were easily located. The two regions where they’d guessed the likely location due to lack of detail were, as expected, more hit and miss and only one was located. Thus, the mscape software has limited use within the college campus, unless there is method of manually matching it with the GPS latitude/longitude for a particular location. An alternative would be to use software such as that suggested by Neil. However, I intend to keep using mscape in the meantime, as I would like to extend its use beyond the college campus. Colleagues have been providing independent travel training for appropriate adults, such as those with learning difficulties. The aim is to provide sufficient training for the student to independently and confidentially travel from home/college to destinations such as college/work/shop on foot and/or bicycle, bus, train. I plan to use mscape to see whether the technology is useful as an additional aid to help them navigate. Mscape could be used to indicate when a significant location, such as a post box or road junction, has been passed and to indicate when to turn along the route, such as a specific road. It could also be programmed to warn the user, such as when they’ve missed a turn. I also have access to a Garmin Nuvi 310 (www.garmin.com/products/nuvi310) dedicated GPS device with built-in mapping, whose suitability for the role I plan to compare with a PDA running mscape.
Jonathan
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j-white
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« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2008, 10:40:42 PM »

I setup and tested my first mediascape outside the college campus this afternoon. The mediascape covered a linear route on foot from the college to Tesco Express and back, which is a round trip of 2 miles. The initial decision was whether to setup two separate mediascapes, i.e. one for the outward and one for the return journey. I decided to produce a single generic mediascape combining both sections, to avoid confusing the user. I took photos along the route with particular emphasis on road junctions, as I knew these regions could be easily plotted. I also took extra photos outside the set route to indicate to the user if they were heading in the wrong direction. I then recorded a generic instruction for each region using Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net), which I exported as a WAV file.  I opened mscape maker and created the regions, then imported my audio and images. I then transferred the mediascape to a ‘HP iPAQ hw6915 Mobile Messenger’ PDA. I tested the mediascape with two Entry Level students, who admittedly had previously walked the same route as part of their independent travel training. However, some of the issues raised during this short initial test were:
- High reflectivity of the screen made reading information difficult, coupled with fingerprints.
- Traffic noise made instructions very difficult to hear. An earphone may provide the solution, but there are dangers with being distracted near traffic etc, plus it is not permissible if the PDA is shared. (I’d hoped to add a short music clip to precede each instruction, but discovered that they overlapped each other).
I’ll report back again at a later date.

Incidentally, BBC Click has just featured a report on ‘SAT-NAV FOR PEOPLE’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/7440387.stm . A prototype Intel GPS device works in areas with wireless broadband and features contains sensors, an accelerometer, a 3D compass and a gyroscope.

Jonathan
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