Author Archive

May 7, 2012

An update on the bike idea from a few posts back…

by jarradr

The first phase of my project is the determination of the effective cost of the different vehicles.

1. 1990 Honda CRX (photo coming shortly) 29.5 mpg

2. Schwinn 10-speed bicycle mpg: E

3. Peace Sports 50cc scooter (white, normal idle positioning) 127.2 mpg average

4. Peace Sports 50cc scooter (yellow, reduced idle positioning) 160 mpg average

May 7, 2012

Smart metering for attic apartment

by jarradr

http://www.powerlogic.com/literature/EnergyMeter_3020HO0002R908.pdf

Currently playing with this sub-panel meter in my studio apartment. If I can tie it into a network of some sort, I can remotely monitor the power use. Even better, I might post my power usage stats to a web-page so that I can see historical data on my consumption.

Do I use more power on Tuesdays or Wednesdays?

Is this high efficiency AC really worth it?

To exactly how many dollars per hour does a 90 degree equate?

 

May 7, 2012

Very interesting information visualization

by jarradr

http://www.ted.com/talks/deb_roy_the_birth_of_a_word.html

May 7, 2012

With respect to learning-via-videos…

by jarradr

While we’re talking about learning in the “video space,” don’t you guys think Ted Talks is the coolest thing since sliced bread?

http://www.hulu.com/tedtalks

Here’s 3 ways it can make your life better:

1. Listen in the morning while you ear your oatmeal (you don’t necessarily have to watch)

2. Tell your grandmother to watch some, and then talk to her about what she found interesting

3. Chuckle to yourself as a very attractive woman discusses some monkeys pinching each others buttocks

http://www.hulu.com/watch/225827/tedtalks-isabel-behncke-evolutions-gift-of-play-from-bonobo-apes-to-humans

 

February 27, 2012

Project for entry into the Innovation Competition and social entrepreneurship ventures

by jarradr

Though only a novice rider, I have become extremely passionate about cycling and have integrated it into almost every facet of my life. In fact, my car has been in the shop for the past 4 weeks and I have not missed it much (aside from the days I want to take a woman out on a date, which is often, but that’s a topic for another blog).

My daily commute is 3 miles one way, from home to campus. While working at my engineering job, I would, from time to time, bike 15.3 miles one way. I never knew how much I was riding until I decided to plot the route a few weeks ago. I was actually impressed with myself, after the fact (yet another blog will get into further detail of my narcissism in this regard). I believe that I can get to pretty much anywhere in the metro Atlanta area with my bicycle and assistance from Marta; I often take my bike on the train making my “effective biking range” equal to the Marta route map plus about 10 miles.

Somewhat related to this passion is my desire to contribute to a more “sustainable” campus and I’ve recently been involved in several campus recycling, organic farming, and other green efforts. Recently it occurred to me that bike-riding is actually one of the keys to a “green outlook” and I’ve begun work with some campus groups to further encourage student biking on and around Tech. Now (here’s where it gets interesting) we all know that biking is cool in its time and place and we sometimes carve out the when and where to make it happen, for exercise’s sake. What is missing, I thought, in the full adoption of the biking lifestyle is the push toward making cycling an almost ubiquitous (to use a term already overused in the context of our class) event. That is: people need to be able to ride without having to set aside the aforementioned places and times; biking should be easy enough for them to do at all times, without even thinking about it.

The first step, naturally, is to address the factor that keeps most people from riding: effort. People would ride more, I suggest, if there was less energy required and if it was not so physically demanding to commit all of their transportation to the two wheeled option. Just ask my date last week if she appreciated having to keep up with me, a much more experienced rider, in her pretty dress as we rode up that hill on the way to dinner (that was a joke). My point is, bikes that provided more assistance to the rider would be very beneficial in getting people to ride more. You might think of scooters as an option but, in some cases, they defeat the purpose because they are expensive, require documentation, run on gas, and are prohibited on the public transportation system. My associate recently started a company called Soup Cycles (http://www.soupcycles.com/) specializing in both gas and electric engines for commuter bicycles in Atlanta. For reasons discussed previously, my project will focus only on the electric versions.

One company at which we have been looking for electric kits and engine ideas is Bionx (http://www.bionxinternational.com/bionx-international-north-america/), which makes bikes but also several other electric vehicles. With assistance levels of up to 300% (tantamount to having rider pedal power multiplied by 3) bikes equipped with these systems should be as good, if not better, than scooters. The health benefit realized can be looked at as parallel to the academic notion of scaffolding (as described by Vygotsky and his Zone of Proximal Development), whereby students are given less and less assistance with the conceptual problems as the become more and more experienced in dealing with them. With respect to the bikes, users will likely use the assistance much during their first experiences with the bike, but since the systems only magnify pedal power and don’t replace it, they all MUST give at least some effort. I would suggest that, after some grow accustomed to the system, they’ll choose less and less assistance (the system is set up so that it is configurable). For instance, they might decide to use the assistance only on uphill climbs and flat surfaces and would pedal on the down hills. The human body being the machine that it is, and the human mind being the computer that it is, these users will soon find that they are able to pedal through the flats and only need help on the climbs. After a while, only steep climbs would require assistance. Of course, this is a utopian expectation and each users experience will be different, but the point is that the system would take advantage of both the muscle (physical) growth associated with the minimal effort required and the natural desire (mental/emotional) to improve- or to save money since it costs [an albeit nominal amount compared to gas prices] to recharge the battery.

I plan to do a study on the construction and use of the electric bikes, including approximations of the amount of overall benefit achieved (money saved on gas, money saved on gym memberships, reduction in emissions, etc). I ultimately want to look into a solar charging system for these vehicles. As gas prices approach $5 per gallon, I suggest that more and more people will start to look at options such as these.

More updates will soon follow. One interesting video that is somewhat related came to my attention as I was researching the minimization of the components of the electric engine-system. Apparently, the electric-bike system is huge in other countries and even competitive “athletes” have begun to incorporate this into their training and sometimes even inappropriately into competition. This might be funny to some:

I will post more on the idea of the electric bike system as it develops. I hope to enter this into the Innovation Competition. Please give feedback! Thanks…

February 27, 2012

Some cool sample content from my recent video project

by jarradr

An excellent example of the intersection of two of my passions (education and psychological thriller movies) and yet another instance of my project being used in ways that I had not intentioned, due to the creativity (there’s that word again) of the Georgia Tech student population.

There are a few things going on here. First, I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie Memento, but here is a brief trailer (please excuse some of the language):


After watching that, check out this video done by a student in the Physics class into which I integrated my video idea last term:

I love it.
Next, please check out the other videos by clicking on the C21U link found beneath the video. Note, though, that these are but a few of the videos submitted by students during the course of the project. Some are extremely creative but, for one reason or another, did not get submitted for the competition. Here is another video produced by the same production “team.” Note: the student actor was the star, but his roommate was the cameraman and actually did all of the hard work; how else would this guy have written a problem on his back? I shudder to think about which of them might have written the problem on his upper thigh (just jokes). http://youtu.be/Es_D0YZdrSg

Some interesting points that come out of analysis of this portion of the project are:

1. Noting that their classmates have to rank the videos, is it better for students to produce content that is academically relevant or simply amusing?

2. One perspective of student-developed video requires that students “teach the underlying concepts” while others simply involve the presentation of problem solutions. This project, in particular, has shown how different these two notions can be.

3. This is the first project that I completed using a video-hosting service other than YouTube. The Digital Media tool lacks some of the interface options (annotation, user-prescribed graphical hit-counting, etc) but it allows us to present the videos to a Tech-only audience. The videos entered into the TechBurst competition, therefore, had to be re-produced from the original raw files, in many cases. The difference between the two programs, and the corresponding affects on the producers and consumers of video content, is important to consider.

February 27, 2012

video project with Physics 2211 course

by jarradr

Background: my research looks at the integration of asynchronous video (and specifically student-developed content) into the classroom. As such, I’ve worked with several Tech faculty members to put together projects integrating a video “requirement” into their course. One such project was Professor Greco’s Physics 2211 class (478 students) whereby students were asked to submit a videos several times throughout the term and also to watch 4 of their classmates’ videos and assign rankings to them. The rankings were then associated with points via an algorithm I wrote and embedded into the class T-Square site and the top 15% “point-getters” would receive extra credit for that round. This gave the students an incentive to produce quality videos. Furthermore, the fact that the students had to watch each others videos meant that the professor did not (which would have been a daunting task in a class of 478).

Though the prof was not required to view all video content, an important aspect of this idea is the fact that he could at any time he chose to. That is, if he found, by looking through exam results, that a particular student was lost on the Chapter 8 materials, he could look at the stream of videos submitted by that student to see exactly where they went off track. The also keeps the students “honest” to a certain extent, since they never know when the prof will decide to take a look at their submissions.

One important element whereby this project differs from others on which I’ve worked integrating video into GT courses has to do with the video-hosting interface. This project uses the Digital Media tool, specifically designed by CETL to work within the T-Square environment. Past projects all used YouTube. Some advantages of YouTube include the fact that the most students were already familiar with the interface, the ability to annotate the videos, and the ability to make the videos “portable” by creating an email-ready link. I chose to work with the Digital Media tool in this instance because I wanted to work with CETL to customize an interface specifically for use in the education space, and I wanted to be able to authenticate access to the videos based on official Georgia Tech credentials. In my data analysis, I am looking at the number of people who view certain videos, as well as the number who create, so it is also helpful to isolate use to a GT-only population. While the main project focus looks to see the impact of the creation of the video on the developer, further research will look at the affect on the viewers.

As always, CCDC input/feedback/suggestions are appreciated!

February 27, 2012

Summary of Research on the Classroom Use of Asynchronous Video and Other Technologies

by jarradr

My research specifically involves multimedia technologies, especially shared video, as tools for the enhancement of teaching and learning in STEM fields.

Typical projects involve giving students (in Calculus 1 and 2 courses) the opportunity to make up for points lost on quiz/test questions by having them create YouTube videos of themselves completing similar problems and ‘teaching’ the underlying topics. To analyze the effects of the videos, we would look at how the students performed on the same concepts when tested on them during the Final exam. That is, the scores of students who ‘failed’ at various concepts during the term but submitted an appropriate video would be compared with scores of those who failed but did not submit a video.

In addition to the audio/visual content produced, students would be encouraged to make the video segments ‘information dense’ using some of the features currently available. For instance, step-by-step problem instructions could be displayed at the bottom of the screen, using YouTube’s annotation feature, and viewers would be able to leave their questions in the comments area as well as within the video itself, thereby encouraging updates to the annotation and/or further videos.

The videos themselves, once determined to be acceptable, would be maintained on a website for use by future students. This will allow us to capture further data concerning those students who watch the videos and the corresponding benefits, if any. The main motivations for this study are the assumptions that having to ‘teach’ the material encourages/requires a much deeper understanding and also that there is educative value to be gained by the peer perspective with respect to teaching and learning in STEM fields.

Expanding on these topics, further research involves teacher-developed videos, and I’ve been working with Dr. Damon Williams at CETL on several workshops and with his Summer Learning  Community (http://www.cetl.gatech.edu/events/event.php?id=6568). Planned research also involves online tutoring systems (including video-chat, wimba tools, etc.).

Benefits of the [interactive video] research would include:

1. Diverse perspective: Peer-developed videos allow students to approach the material from different avenues. Having a concept explained by the professor is one thing, but having it dissected and explained by someone who just learned it could be quite powerful, I would suggest.

2. Depth of review: Students viewing both instructor and peer-led videos will be able to rewind, pause, and skip-through the videos as they seek out the most salient points and those which caused them the most confusion.

3. Interactivity: Students will see each others questions and comments. This will also result in the placement of updated annotations throughout the video, allowing it to ‘grow’ with each piece of feedback received.

4. Availability: The videos will be available 24/7, unlike most other academic support resources.

5. Variable Formats: It is interesting to note some students state they ‘learn’ better when they can see the ‘teacher’s’ face. Some presenters, however, may be hesitant to have their face published on the internet, and would prefer to ‘pen-cast’ their presentation of the material. Diverse teaching/learning styles also play a large role. The varying format allows for beneficial flexibility.

6. Breadth of subjects: I’m focusing on Math and Computer Science now, but am currently communicating with several departments at Tech. The ideas here would be relevant to all STEM fields.

7. Privacy/Data Tracking: Videos would be coded as private and only be viewable after authentication. This will allow us to better track the data corresponding to who is watching the videos, so as to determine the impact on different populations.

8. Legacy: As we continue to suggest and require the videos, the corresponding Video Library will become more diverse in its subjects, formats, and presenters. Since the concepts are not substantially changing, students taking Math Math 1501 in Fall 2013 could conceivably benefit from videos made in 2010.

9. Assessment: The videos could be used as tools for assessment for the tutor, teaching assistant and other student assistant positions on campus. For example, a portion of the interview process could involve the submission of some videos showing the person explaining some complex concept to an imaginary ‘tutee.’ Using the videos instead of personal meetings allows assessors much more flexibility, as they correspond with larger numbers of and more geographically diverse groups.

There are also benefits specific to my role as Academic Support Manager at OMED, as I to focus on methods of engagement of and providing academic support for under-represented populations in STEM:

10. Identity impact: There are a growing number of YouTube videos available covering various Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts, but the presenters are mostly white males. Diversity could be very beneficial here. It is beneficial for Black male students, for example, to see Black males handling high-level concepts in a different courses.

11. Active Learning: The process of creating the videos (and, thereby ‘teaching’ the material) allows the students a deeper interaction with the concepts involved. With respect to our target populations, this can be used both to promote and socially reward those members of the community who have a particular proficiency and to identify areas where academic support is most

needed.

12. As has been noted for years (http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants %20-%20part1.pdf) the extent to which young people (students in particular) are being raised as natural consumers of digital information is constantly increasing. The recent trends show that African-Americans and Latinos are the main users of social networking sites (http://pewinternet.org/Media-Mentions/2011/For-minorities-new-digital-divide-seen.aspx http://pewinternet.org/%20Reports/2011/Twitter-Update-2011.aspx). This research looks into ways we can continue to engage the populations in ways that are relevant to how they live and learn today.

CCDC Feedback is appreciated! I think this should fall within the realm of Creativity… what do you think?

February 27, 2012

C21U TechBurst Voting Still Open

by jarradr

My current research focus is on student-led video as a tool to aid in teaching and learning in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classroom. I have completed several projects incorporating this idea into undergraduate courses at Tech, the last of which being in conjunction with Professor Greco’s Physics 2211 course (478 students).
The notion of learning via asynchronous video is also at the core of the C21U TechBurst competition (with $5000 in prize money at stake), and I have worked with them as well over the past few terms. Many of the video projects that now are “finalists” in the competition are either taken exactly from our work with Physics or from other video projects I’ve done across campus. Take a look and vote!


http://c21u.gatech.edu/techburst

February 23, 2012

Sketches as articulated representations of creativity

by jarradr

Today in class our group has a very lively discussion on sketching as relates to creativity, the extent to which a culture can be judged by the words it uses to describe its popular sports, whether or not it is rude to refer to a classmate as “Satan,” and a host of other topics. The entire “thread” was captured- to a certain extent- by the graphical notations we each made on the single sheet of paper we shared.

This exercise was quite interesting during class as we sometimes fought to quickly jot down our notes on the paper, and sometimes fought not to. Even more interesting, however, is a review of these “notes” now, without the pressure (one of our themes today) of the class and without the need to be a producer of creative content. In the consumer role, we can better appreciate our sketch, as manifestations of the creativity of the contributors become more clear. A few highlights are:
1. Toward the lower right, notice the stick figure with an asterisk for a head. This represents our teammate who was almost electrocuted (in his mind, of course) by Professor Do as she visited our discussion.
2. To the left of this are the words ” I never called you Satan” (written upside-down, depending upon your perspective) followed by tally marks which indicate approximately how many times this phrase was uttered. In this instance, while the point is spatially close to the previous one (#1), there is no logical connection.
3. Just above the Satan statement is a representation of “thinking outside of the box” in an effort to solve writer’s block. This point was, in fact, logically connected to the point above it, as indicated by the arrow.
4. The diagram beginning with the word Creativity at the left indicates how 2 intelligent and creative people can be motivated/inspired by completely different paths. Some work better under pressure, while some are adept in relaxing their mind so as to allow the “aha moment” to come.
5. Above this we have our “conversation waveform” which represents the fact that, at the onset of the exercise there was relatively little discussion, as we each struggled to find a place to start. Thoughts on “sketching,” “intelligence,” and “creativity” soon followed, and the magnitude of the waves represent the amount of dialog associated with each. The fact that the section on creativity has dual waves, opposite from one another, is indicative of those times when the group did not agree and debated the merits of different perspectives.
These are, obviously, only a few of the graphical notes made on the paper. In an exercise that could be seen as an extension of the classroom assignment, I wonder what, if anything, the readers of this post would make of some of the other images? Hearing the ideas of people unconnected to the original discussions would be interesting, as they would represent the reverse of the initially reversed points (we went from thought to sketch; this would go from sketch to thought).
Just as we played the drawing games a few class periods ago, I wonder how creative the class might be in attempting to decipher these symbols.

“Left as an exercise for the reader…”