'Strengthening a Learner's Transition to Independence'

Welcome to the MITTIN Memo

In this issue we are looking towards the future and asking for your input. As we have presented at conferences and conducted workshops, many participants have made suggestions on ways to enhance MITTIN. You will see these suggestions included in a quick survey. Please let us know your perspective on MITTIN project priorities. Your responses will help us determine what areas we might explore to enhance and strengthen future MITTIN resources for learners.

Karen Hairston, Director of Education Services, who is our MITTIN Leadership Team partner from Great Lakes Reality Labs (GLRL), provides us another article -- this time on game development. It is amazing the process and skill that goes into the creation of MITTIN Modules. Further down the Memo, we are spotlighting key personnel from GLRL. We are so grateful for the expertise, development and technical support they bring to this work.

We would also like to honor Ann Walton, Executive Director of MCEC and the 2024 Impact Award winner. Congratulation Ann and thank you for your amazing work on MITTIN and your impact on students, parents and educators throughout Michigan.

Best Regards,

Dr. Derek Cooley,

MITTIN Committee Chair

We need your perspective on...

MITTIN Project Priorities

As we pursue additional funding to further expand the development of MITTIN resources, research and implementation, we are interested in hearing from you - our MITTIN users. If we might have just one minute of your time, please click on the icon on the right to answer - what might be your top priority for MITTIN and what is your second priority. This information will help the MITTIN Committee and MITTIN Leadership Team explore priorities and costs. Thank you for your time.

Congratulations Ann Walton

MCEC Impact Award Winner

Ann Walton, Michigan CEC Executive Director, has been awarded the CEC Impact Award. This award recognizes an individual or community organization that has an impact on CEC's strategic work. Ann Walton has played an instrumental role in CEC at the national and state levels, supporting the MI Transition to Independence Project (MITTIN) serving on their leadership team, creating professional development opportunities, and working tirelessly to support youth with exceptionalities and their families.


Michigan Special Education Legislative Summit

On Tuesday, April 9th, over 40 MAASE Members and Michigan Legislators and staffers attended the Michigan Special Education Legislative Summit in Lansing. It was an opportunity to strengthen relationships and of course, share all the amazing work that is happening with MITTIN. Thank you to all who attended for contributing your time, effort and expertise.

An Insider's Look at

MITTIN Game Development

By Karen Hairston, GLRL Director of Education Services

The development process at Great Lakes Reality Labs (GLRL) starts long before a single line of code is written. Shortly after the initial game design document (GDD) is presented to the team, we dive straight into a discovery phase to ensure we’re selecting the right tools and technology to deliver the desired experience. Over the course of several weeks, we host a series of discussions between the various disciplines (art, audio, design, engineering) on the team to align on our technical approach, as well as the various milestones and checkpoints we’ll need along the way.

Communication stays constant as we transition from planning to execution. Engineers lay the foundation for the game, the art team begins crafting the environments and interactable objects, and our audio engineer starts composing the intricate sound effects heard throughout the game world. With all of these things in motion, we’re constantly inspecting and adapting – whether it be taking in feedback from a team member or conducting group playtests, we make it a point that everyone’s voice is heard, and we’re collectively building the most engaging experience possible for the intended audience.

As the project nears completion, we drill in further to find opportunities to enhance the playthrough, optimize its performance, and elevate the look, feel, and sound of the game. A combination of thorough planning and incredible flexibility allows us to bring the MITTIN project to life!

P.S. If you missed the article on the MITTIN game design process, see the March 2024 MITTIN Memo!

A MITTIN Partner:

Great Lakes Reality Labs

Great Lakes Reality Labs (also known as “GLRL” or “Reality Labs”) is a game studio that seeks to use the latest technology to enhance education and training. Founded in 2017 and based in Lansing, MI, we believe that education is an on-going process of understanding experiences. From fun, stimulating lessons that inspire the next generation of our workforce to realistic simulations that keep current professionals on top of their game, we works to create meaningful, sustainable experiences for everyone.

GLRL has developed over 20 games for platforms ranging from virtual reality headsets to Chromebooks. In addition to MITTIN, we have also worked on projects such as VIRLI (Virtual Reality Learning Initiative), a collaborative effort between the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators, and Michigan Intermediate School Districts to provide virtual education using gamification and immersive technologies, EmergeSkilled, a powerful tool designed to help students find the right entry-level career opportunities by matching their skills with employer profiles, and 4POP (“4 Pieces of Paper”), an educational partnership with Unity to train the next generation of game developers.

Jim Curran - For more than 30 years, Jim has worked at the intersection of policy, politics and technology. Jim has been a part of the team at Lansing-based lobbying firm Karoub Associates as both a client and partner for 25 years. In 2017, Jim founded Great Lakes Reality Labs (GLRL), a Michigan software development firm focused on the creation and deployment of immersive technologies to support teaching and training. To support the efforts of GLRL, Jim partnered with several education and business entities to develop Haptix Studio, a motion capture studio committed to supporting the content creation efforts of business and student exploration of career opportunities in evolving technology. Jim and his wife, Polly Synk, a Division Chief in the Office of Michigan Attorney General, live in East Lansing with their three children who attend East Lansing Public Schools. Jim is a graduate of Michigan State University.

Martin DeKorte joined Great Lakes Reality Labs (GLRL) in February 2023 as a Project Manager and currently resides in Tennessee. He has a background in software project management in financial technologies, sports betting, consumer energy, and web development. Prior to working in software, he served as a consultant for several youth sports and mentorship organizations in Tennessee. Martin also currently volunteers as a consultant for start-ups and small-businesses, as well as serving as a business and creativity coach for photographers. Recently, Martin accepted a promotion at GLRL, and effective April 1, 2024 (no foolin'), Martin will be GLRL's new President! Martin will continue to be involved with MITTIN, and since he will be moving to Michigan, you may even get a chance to meet him in person!

Tommy Truong is a husband, father, gamer, and technology evangelist and is the Chief Production Officer for Great Lakes Reality Labs (GLRL). Despite spending most of his time in front of screens, he finds the most value in interacting with people and being close to the action. Over the past 7 years, Tommy has designed software for education, government, non-profits, and private businesses. In 2017, he started his first company, Great Lakes Reality Labs, to create mixed reality content for education, training, and therapeutics. In 2020, he opened one of the largest motion capture studios in the US, Haptix Studio, to produce motion capture and virtual production. Tommy is also an adjunct professor at Davenport University, inspiring and preparing the next generation of digital creators.

Karen Hairston, Director of Education Services at Great Lakes Reality Labs, brings with her over 20 years of project management, instructional design, content development, training, consulting, "systematizing," and management experience. Karen is currently the Chairperson of the XR Association (xra.org) Education Workgroup. She has experience in corporate, start-up, K-12 education, higher education and government settings. One of her favorite things to do is solve problems others think are impossible using a combination of interpersonal skills and more traditional problem-solving skills. Karen received her MA in Instructional Design and Educational Technology from Michigan State University and has a BS in Education and a BS in Sports Medicine from Central Michigan University.

2024 MAASE Summer Institute

Click here for information on the MAASE Summer Institute Conference

MITTIN Implementation & Networking

Over the next few weeks you can find us connecting with parents, agencies and educators to strengthening a learner's transition to independence at:

Transition Coordinators Regions 2 & 4+

April 23, 2024 - MITTIN Update

MAASE Summer Institute

August 11-14, 2024 - Presentation & Booth

What is MITTIN?

MITTIN – MIchigan Transition To INdependence is a dynamic collection of modules and curricular resources which foster the development of independent living skills in the home and community. Designed to support special education transition-related instruction, these resources are free and available to all parents, schools, educators and learners in Michigan. MITTIN is a partnership of the Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education (MAASE), Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC), Great Lakes Reality Labs (GLRL) and Public Policy Associates (PPA). These resources can be found at: maase.org/mittin

Safety and Independence at Home

MITTIN currently has seven topics which focus on strengthening skills which promote safety and independence at home. 

  • Change a Light Bulb
  • Clean Flat Surfaces
  • Clean the Bedroom
  • Put Away Groceries
  • Use a Microwave
  • Use an Oven
  • Use a Stove
  • Taking out the Trash
  • Selecting Appropriate Clothing

Safety and Independence in the Community

MITTIN currently has four topics which focus on strengthening skills which promote safety and independence in the community.

  • Cross the Street 
  • Shop for Groceries
  • Walk Through a Parking Lot
  • Use Self-Checkout
For more information, visit our website:  maase.org/mittin