Using technology to solve problems

Using touch screens with the orangutans

At the Atlanta Zoo touchscreens, laptops and a knowledge tree are being used to provide enrichment activities for the Gorillas and Orangutans as well as to conduct research into the cognitive abilities of the animals. This research began in 2007.

Click here to try out one of the games the orangutans play in their exhibit.

The Zoo also provides natural enrichment activities for their gorillas including adding piles of leaves to their enclosures.

In early 2016, Melbourne Zoo staff began working with researchers from the University of Melbourne and Microsoft. They developed a system, using modified Xbox Kinect 3D technology and projections on the floor of the orangutan enclosure, to allow the primates to play simple problem-solving games. The orangutans had already been using painting and musical iPad apps with their keepers, through the bars. In the future, the researchers are hoping to design apps that will allow the orangutans to interact with the zoo’s human visitors.

Experiments like these have the potential to be quite controversial. There is an ongoing debate about whether we should be providing zoo animals with access to technology or keeping them in enclosures that are as natural as possible? In the Zoo Atlanta research, the scientists investigated visitor perceptions about the use of technology in enclosures. They concluded that the visitors were highly positive about its value, particularly if they had had the opportunity to observe the orangutans interacting with the touch screen.



New Terminology in Digital Thinking

Computational Thinking is a problem solving approach. The goal is to produce a systematic solution to a problem. The solution will include:

  • a sequence of steps to solve the problem
  • a discussion of the data needed to solve the problem

Digital Technologies (Digitech)

‘Digital Technologies give the power to create technology.’

They include both software and hardware.


What are Digital Technologies?

In the new Victorian Curriculum, we are going to exploring how digital technologies work and the science behind them.

Rather than just using my  beautiful new MacBook Pro. I might start thinking about how the information gets to my MacBook or how MacBooks are actually made.

Previous curriculum focuses have included:

  • Digital Literacies – being able to use technology effectively and safel
  • Information Literacy – a process for acquiring, sharing, presenting and evaluating new knowledge.

Digitech is concerned with:

  • how digital technologies work
  • how they are created
  • the thinking required to create digital technologies.

Computational thinking is the way of thinking needed to solve problems and create solutions with digital technologies.





Screen shot 2011-06-16 at 6.24.57 PM

I’ve been hearing  a lot of discussion about TPACK lately and finally decided I needed to find out more about it. I spent a couple of hours searching and reading. You can find my conclusions below.  Little did I know, John Pearce, had already published a link to an absolutely awesome – and far more entertaining and informative video.

Video link for iPads:  TPACK Radio/Video Show ISTE 2010

TPCK – Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge


“Teaching is a highly complex activity that draws on many kinds of knowledge.”

The TPACK framework illustrates the interaction between three knowledge bases;

  • Content Knowledge (CK)
  • Pedagogical Knowledge (PK)
  • Technological Knowledge (TK)

New types of interrelated knowledge lie at the intersections between the three knowledge bases.

“Developing good content involves a thoughtful interweaving of all three key sources of knowledge: technology, pedagogy and content.”

Koehler, M., & Misha, P. (2006). TPACK Image.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge. Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054.