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TEATalks: Wii-Mote and Pedagogy

Last Friday we had the pleasure of learning about a unique teaching tool known as a Wii-Mote. David Chamberlain, Professor in Classics described to us how he uses this tool in his teaching of courses such as Latin.  David began his presentation demonstrating how one sets up a Wii-Mote. But before that, one is probably asking, what is a Wii-Mote?

Simply, a Wii-Mote is a digital presentation tool that allows one to turn almost any surface into a touch screen interface allowing one to manipulate objects, highlight text, move and resize images, and control one’s computer from in front of the class rather than where the computer is located. Perhaps the easiest equivalent is a Smart Board, with the difference being that this is much less expensive. (I will add that it does take a little know-how and technological effort to get it set-up, but I wouldn’t say that it is too difficult either .  See the video below by Johnny Chung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University, on this process.)

In our TEATalks presentation David used two Wii remotes for his demonstration – one to read the projected image and the other to manipulate that image. In addition, he used the infra-red pen to do the same as well.

So, once this was explained, David calibrated the projected image with the Wii remote and the infrared pen and then went into a Prezi presentation that he created to demonstrate how this tool works in his teaching.  You can view his Prezi here.

Some of the more interesting aspects involve David explaining how, in the field of Classics, the book is the traditional mode of teaching and learning. Sometimes he wonders though if the students might not be “hiding” behind their books. In addition, he wonders if his students are also paying less attention if he is working from his computer rather from in front of the class. As such using the Wii-mote allows him to stand in front of the class and thereby encouraging his students to pay closer attention.

Pedagogically, David looks to use this technology to produce a “digital commentary” both  for scholarship and for teaching. Classics has two types of commentaries relating to texts: the learners commentary and the scholarly commentary. David then demonstrated this commentary on a sample text page.

In addition, by demonstrating/helping students look up commentaries on a text while in class, in that moment, rather than have them go to the library and look it up after class, allows for in-depth discussion of ideas together as a group therefore providing or allowing for an interactive discussion.

At this point, David demonstrated using the infra-red pen to annotate on the screen the projected image of a Latin text in which he “wrote” lines separating long from short vowels. He changed colors, created a highlighter type tool as well.  Using the Wii-mote allows David to help him express visual order on the “visual plane” of the screen using this technology.

Then he talked about how one can have a student come up and do this same analysis in front of the class, providing opportunity for peers to see and present and discuss the material. Again, the opportunity for rich interactive discussions with this is demonstrated.

Once this work is done, one can create a single multi-page .pdf file that could then be uploaded to Blackboard, for example. Or one could take screenshots and upload those or even capture everything in a screencast for students to review at a later date.

Overall, David made a compelling argument and demonstration for this technology in a pedagogically sound manner. The reference links are below for those who wish to have more information on how to set up a Wii-Mote system for themselves.

Information on the Wii-mote can be found at Wikipedia, here.

The history from Johnny Chung Lee’s site can be found here.

From the Wiibrew wiki, some more information.

-Sean Sharp

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