Week12 Two Magicians and Their High-tech Magic

Recently two geniuses walked into my eyesight through R685 (Dr. Bonk introduced them in the class). Both of them amazed me with their exciting innovations with new technologies. I would like to call them MAGICIANS, because of their astonishing creativity and bold imagination. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw their high-tech presentations.

The first magician is Craig Kapp, a professor as well as a researcher in the fields of computer science and digital Technology. Currently, he is working on applying Augment Reality into educational settings to facilitate teaching and learning. The topic of his presentation in R685 was Visualizing the Future:  How Augmented Reality can empower faculty, inspire students and bring ideas to life in the classroom. Thanks to his presentation, I was in my first time being clearly acknowledged what Augmented Reality is and what value it may bring into education. Augmented Reality plays magic to visuals. Shown with a specifically made card or on a special tablet through a web camera, images on a piece of paper or in a book suddenly become “ALIVE”. They stand up, turning into 3D visuals (more exactly, 3D objects). Imaging how amazing it could be when chemical symbols in your chemistry textbook become 3D models, Jack’s beanstalk growing up directly from the story book or little red riding hood running on pages! I think the great value that Craig’s innovation in education is that it will make learning more engaging, release students’ cognitive load of understanding complexities, encourage imagination and inspire creation.

The other magician is Pranav Mistry, an Indian computer science majored graduate student from MIT. His magic is SixSense. This technology embeds computer functions into human bodies: with carrying a small camera and some other necessary computer components, our fingers could work as a mouse and our palms could be used as a keyboard and a screen. SixSense exerts the great potential of mobile learning and breaks down the barrier of accessing information without appropriate devices. Since SixSense can turn our bodies into a mobile device which has comprehensive functions, we will not need any extra devices anymore, such as expensive Apple productions.

Although Augmented Reality and SixSense technology are under two different topics in R685, I put them together in this posting because Craig and Pranav have great similarities in terms of creativity and enthusiasm of applying new technologies in learning; in addition, I imagine what will happen if we combine these two magic together: the convenience and fun of leaning will be everywhere! Students will be able to watch free 3D movies all on their palms; science teachers may never need to purchase geometry and chemical models for their classes; students majored in fashion design, engineering design and architecture could exam their designs from 360 angles anytime from they start drawing the design sketches. 

Week 11 Serious Game

This week is a game week. Not only R685 talked about games, the other course (S516 Human Computer Interaction) that I am taking this semester from School of Library and Information Science also lectured on games and game design. A guest speaker from Microsoft was invited to give us a talk on his experience of designing a serious game for the Fire Department of LA about ten years ago. Before this speech, I never knew that Microsoft has included game design as part of its business to help clients solve real world issues. This speech presents the great potential of implication serious games in diversified areas in the future.

I searched “serious game” online. Wikipedia defines “serious game” as “a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The serious adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics”. Interesting examples of existing serious games are:

·        1.  DARWARSAmbush! Convoy Simulator developed as part of DARPA's DARWARS project, designed to create low-cost experiential training systems. 

·        2. EteRNA, a game in which players attempt to design RNA sequences that fold into a given configuration. Designs are evaluated to improve computer models predicting RNA folding, included selected designs actually synthesized to evaluate RNA folding dynamics against computer predictions.

·         3. FloodSim , a flood prevention simulation/strategy game designed to inform the people of the United Kingdom about the dangers of flooding as well as to help gather public opinion on the problem that flooding presents to the UK. The player takes control of the UK's flood policies for three years and attempts to protect the people and the economy of the United Kingdom from damage due to floods.

·        4.  FoodForce , a Humanitarian video game. The UN's World Food Programme designed this virtual world of food airdrops over crisis zones and trucks struggling up difficult roads under rebel threat with emergency food supplies. 

·       5.  IBMCityOne, designed by IBM as part of the IBM Smarter Planet initiative. The game is designed to educate the player of the complex systems and how they connect in a modern city.

·        6. IntelliGym, a series of computer based cognitive simulators that trains athletes and designed to enhance brain skills associated with sports-related performance.

·         7. MicrosoftFlight Simulator developed as a comprehensive simulation of civil aviation. Notably one of the few flight simulation games that does not concentrate on simulation of aerial warfare.

·         8.Time out, is a point and click game dealing with diabetes.

Reading through the descriptions of above games, I think no one would deny the great value of serious games to individuals as well as to the whole society. As a future instructional designer, I believe the power of serious games in education and training. If people can learn new knowledge, concepts, social trends and problem solving skills through playing games, educators should definitely advocate this way of learning and create more learning opportunities of using games, because games provides learners what traditional lecture couldn’t offer , engagement and simulation, two major feature of games which ensure the effectiveness of learning. 


Week 4 E-assessment and Technology-mediated Feedback

As online learning gains popularity, how to effectively assess teaching and learning outcomes in web-based environments becomes an important issue that educators should carefully think about.  The article, No such thing as failure, only feedback: designing innovative opportunities for e-assessment and technology-mediated feedback (Miller, Doering and Scharber, 2010), brings us fresh ideas on this issue.

This article takes three real teaching cases as examples to illustrate how to appropriately implement e-assessment and technology-mediated assessment to support specific learning tasks. Each case enlightens me from different aspects.

Case 1. AvenueASL, an integrated e-assessment system developed to cap­ture, evaluate, and manage postsecondary ASLlearner video performanc­es. This case has me realize the importance of student self-assessment and the value of creating performance and feedback portfolios for students to keep them aware of their personal progress. The experience of self-assessment and regular looking up feedback portfolios encourage students to be more reflective regarding their ASL communication skills.

Pic 1 :This is the online assessment platform of AvenueASL. First, a curriculum-based communication task is assigned (left), and then student performance the task in front of a web-camera (middle), finally the instructor demonstrates the task and provides feedback in an other video. On this platform, quantitative and qualitative assessment tools are open to both students and instructors.

Pic 2: ‘My progress’ visualization from this student’s feedback portfolio enables him to trace his progress.

Case 2. GeoThentic, a hybrid learning environment designed to engage K-12 teachers and students with solving real-world geography problems through use of geospatial technologies. The innovative assessment and feedback designs attracts me because of two reasons: first, this case has teachers to assess their teaching skills while they are teaching the course; second, the web-based assessment system is accessible through cell phones, which makes more frequent and immediate feedback possible.

Pic 3: This is the interface of the Teacher-Reported Model (TRM) used in GeoThentic. Through applying this model, teachers can assess their current knowledge about the learning content, the pedagogies and technologies required in teaching this course.

Pic 4: Teachers can access TRM on their cellphones anytime and everywhere.

Case 3. AvenueDHH, a progress-monitoring environment designed to help assess reading, writing, and language development for use with deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) students. This case enlightens me also in two ways. First, it emphasizes on goal-setting and progress-monitoring in the whole process of teaching and learning. Through the continuous measurement of student progress and goal prox­imity, students are motivated; meanwhile, the instructors are able to modify their instruction accordingly to better meet student needs. Second, this case successfully applies a series of simple and effective assessment visualizations, which makes the assessment results easy to interpret by instructors, students and parents.  

Pic 5: Visualizations clearly show current student progress and goal proximity. Green circles represent students who have achieved proficiency, blue circles represent students on the verge of achieving their goals, and red circles represent stu­dents who are struggling with their tests.


Miller, C., Doering. A, & Scharber, C. (2010). No Such Thing as Failure, Only Feedback: Designing Innovative Opportunities for E-assessment and Technology-mediated Feedback. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 21(1), 65-92.


Week 7 Mimi’s Presentation and Young People Online Learning

Mimi Ito left me deep impression since last year when Yue (one of our TA, who took this course last year) showed me a presentation video from her. I like her not only because her intrinsic charm and intelligence, but also her optimistic viewpoint of young generations using new technology. She believes that young people always tend to learn from peers and this positive peer influence can be enhanced through online interaction. While many educators and parents are worrying and even trying to prevent kids from online sociality, Mini’s viewpoint becomes even more avant-garde, and meanwhile encouraging.

It was a great pleasure to attend Mimi’s presentation at IU. This time she stressed three issues relating to young people’s online learning: “Knowledge: flows vs. stocks”, “Learning: peer based vs. top down”, and “Assessment: learner driven vs. institution driven”.

Among these three issues, I agree most on her proposition that educators and schools should propel the flow of knowledge, instead of stock knowledge as private property. While we complain young people idling away online, we should ask ourselves whether we have prepared engaging learning resources for them to explore. Just as MIT opens its course resources to public, our whole society should take responsibility to build and maintain a healthy online environment which offers rich learning opportunities and resources to young people.

I have less agreement on Mimi’s the other two propositions. For the more appropriate mode of online learning of teenagers, although I admit the effectiveness of team work, group discussion, and other types of peer-based learning in motivating young learners and contributing to their achievement, I don’t think this effectiveness can be ensured without appropriate guidance and supervision from teachers and parents. Young people lack of experiences in project management, dealing with interpersonal relationships and troubleshooting. They become interested in things quickly, but also lose interests quickly.  In addition, most of the examples that Mimi provided about teenagers online learning are about creating media productions and creative writings, the most fun part of learning. However, there are other abilities young people need to develop, such as logical and mathematical skills. Therefore, teachers and parents should use online resources to stimulate young people to explore what they haven’t built interests or feel difficult, while to keep enthusiasm in what they love to do till achieving productive learning outcomes.

My opinion on the assessment of young people online learning is similar to how I look at their online learning. I agree that the assessment metrics should be created based on young learners’ actual abilities and performance levels, and that peer evaluation is important for young people to reflect on their previous works and being more motivated to do better jobs. However, I don’t think peer assessment can be always accurate and effective. So, for appropriate assessment of young people online learning achievement, I also advocate of the intervention, or say facilitation, from grown-ups. At least, some ground rules about peer assessment should be set up for young people to take as references. 


Week10 Quotations about Online Collaborative and Interactive Learning

Decades ago if you say people live far away from each other can learn through collaboration, no one could believe. Now this is not an imagination or an illusion anymore. People separated by geographic distance enjoy interactive and collaborative learning enabled by new technology. It is just as Lee and Hutton (2007) point out “The technology provides for dynamic learning and understanding through collaborative, substantive discussions”. Technology makes collaborative learning not only possible, but also dynamic. You may wonder how distance learning can bring even better interactive and collaborative learning experiences and outcomes than traditional learning. Lee and Hutton’s article shed light on this topic: “The technology allows for integration of current, real-time information and ideas that can challenge students to generate new understandings”. New technology brings rich information and learning patterns into online classes, which gives learners more flexibility and choices.

Online learning takes older working professionals back to classrooms (although they are virtual) and equips them with updated knowledge and skills. Chen, Gonyea and Kuh (2008)’s article describes older distance learners as “differ from younger online students in noteworthy ways. Older students report greater gains and are more likely to engage in higher order mental activities such as analysis and synthesis as part of their studies. However, they are less involved in activities that depend on interacting with others, such as working with other students on problems or assignments”. I agree that older distance learners are more mature and successful in online learning, but cannot reach consensus with these authors in saying older students are reluctant to interact with other students. I had experience taking online classes and working with older working adults in team projects. According to my observation, these older students actively involved in teamwork, and because of their maturity and working experience, they positively influenced other younger members and led their teams to achieve better learning outcomes.

Online learning also bring people together who may never have chance sit in a same physical classroom. Now, thanks to internet and other relative technologies, people from different countries learn through collaboration, sharing learning resources and exchanging perspectives. “Emerging technologies today offer multicultural educational events that can foster shared understanding, dignity, respect, and the exchange of highly current and intriguing information” Lee and Hutton (2007). Therefore, technology has not only helped people overcome the problem of geographic distance, but also problem of social distance (Park and Bonk 2007).

Online collaborative learning takes advantages of advanced technology to ensure flexible and productive learning experience. However, instructional designers and teachers should realize that “the success of online courses depends on the appropriate use of pedagogy and related technologies, not just on the introduction of technologies themselves” (Lee, Magjuka, Liu and Bonk, 2006).  It is only when technology and pedagogical strategies best match students’ characteristics and the specific learning tasks that online collaborative and interactive learning will exert its effects.

Chen, P., R. Gonyea, and G. Kuh (2008). Learning at a distance: Engaged or not?. Innovate 4 (3). Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://www.innovateonline.info/pdf/vol4_issue3/Learning_at_a_Distance-__Engaged_or_Not_.pdf

Lee, M. & Hutton, D. (2007, August). Using interactive videoconferencing technology for global awareness: The case of ISIS.  International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 4(8).

Lee, S. H., Magjuka, R. J., Liu, X., Bonk, C. J. (2006, June). Interactive technologies for effective collaborative learning. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning

Park, Y. J., & Bonk, C. J. (2007). Is life a Breeze?: A case study for promoting synchronous learning in a blended graduate course. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT), 3(3), 307-323.