Cam-unity building

This is cool. CAM(era)-(COMM)unity. A project by the Graduate Students’ Association here at UCalgary. Not just a “create a profile and post a photo” site – but a physical token that must be passed from grad student to grad student to unlock a login to the site. An interesting way to get students to meet … Continue reading “Cam-unity building”

This is cool. CAM(era)-(COMM)unity. A project by the Graduate Students’ Association here at UCalgary. Not just a “create a profile and post a photo” site – but a physical token that must be passed from grad student to grad student to unlock a login to the site. An interesting way to get students to meet each other, and also to share information about themselves and their research.

Cam-unity project.

Source: Cam-unity | U of C project

Cam-unity building

This is cool. CAM(era)-(COMM)unity. A project by the Graduate Students’ Association here at UCalgary. Not just a “create a profile and post a photo” site – but a physical token that must be passed from grad student to grad student to unlock a login to the site. An interesting way to get students to meet … Continue reading “Cam-unity building”

This is cool. CAM(era)-(COMM)unity. A project by the Graduate Students’ Association here at UCalgary. Not just a “create a profile and post a photo” site – but a physical token that must be passed from grad student to grad student to unlock a login to the site. An interesting way to get students to meet each other, and also to share information about themselves and their research.

Cam-unity project.

Source: Cam-unity | U of C project

Computer science researchers create augmented reality education tool | UToday

This is cool. Christian’s lab has been producing some amazing tech for visualizing and interacting with human and cellular anatomy, including LINDSAY Virtual Human, and now this: Christian Jacob and Markus Santoso are trying to re-create the experience of the aforementioned agents in Fantastic Voyage. Working with 3D modelling company Zygote, they and recent MSc … Continue reading “Computer science researchers create augmented reality education tool | UToday”

This is cool. Christian’s lab has been producing some amazing tech for visualizing and interacting with human and cellular anatomy, including LINDSAY Virtual Human, and now this:

Christian Jacob and Markus Santoso are trying to re-create the experience of the aforementioned agents in Fantastic Voyage. Working with 3D modelling company Zygote, they and recent MSc graduate Douglas Yuen have created HoloCell, an educational software. Using Microsoft’s revolutionary HoloLens AR glasses, HoloCell provides a mixed reality experience allowing users to explore a 3D simulation of the inner workings, organelles, and molecules of a healthy human cell.Jacob has plenty of experience in bioinformatics as the head of the Lindsay Virtual Human Project.

By combining forces with Santoso, an Eyes High Postdoctoral Fellow with an extensive background in AR research, the pair are taking interactive education to the next level. “We’re finessing the cell right now, but eventually we will expand this software to include the entire body,” explains Jacob, who says that upscaling the project will be relatively straightforward and will eventually become a widely-used educational tool.

Source: Computer science researchers create augmented reality education tool | UToday | University of Calgary

Giant Walkthrough Brain

I was lucky to have been taken to a masters’ student seminar by Tatiana Karaman yesterday1, to see some work on a number of her related neuroanatomy projects as part of the Computational Media Design Program at the University of Calgary. Tatiana sat through a 45-minute MRI head scan in order to get high quality 3D data … Continue reading Giant Walkthrough Brain

I was lucky to have been taken to a masters’ student seminar by Tatiana Karaman yesterday1, to see some work on a number of her related neuroanatomy projects as part of the Computational Media Design Program at the University of Calgary.

Tatiana sat through a 45-minute MRI head scan in order to get high quality 3D data to work with. She took the data and made a series of slices, which she then fed into a 3D printer. The quality of the prints weren’t quite what she was looking for, so she massaged the data and fed it into a laser cutter to make more robust plastic pieces. And wrote software to let people scan QR codes on the physical slices to get more information. As one does.

IMG_1908

1xb0HvRl0J2esoyeccGspo0-NUSxKYFxre8jgspMB6w-e1405619906703But, before getting to that stage, she was involved with a project to create a virtual Giant Walkthrough Brain, based on Joseph Bogen’s design from way back in 1972. He proposed a 60-storey model of a human brain (30 storeys above ground, 30 below) to allow people to walk through the brain and see various bits up close. Strangely, that didn’t prove to be feasible. Until Tatiana and her team built it in software, using the LINDSAY virtual human data.

Jay Ingram took that 3D model on tour in 2014, presenting an interpretive tour through the brain, complete with live music by Jay Ingram and The Free Radicals (and Tatiana running the brain tour live on the big screen). It was part of Beakerhead in Calgary that year, and won the 2014 Science in Society Communication Award from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association.

Since then, the Giant Walkthrough Brain software has been updated to include support for Oculus VR:

And for use in an immersive 3D CAVE environment:

I have to say – what a fantastic student project. Innovative science. Making art. Collaborating with peers. Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work. Amazing.

  1. thanks, Leanne!

UCalgary ePortfolio platform

We have been doing a lot of work on ePortfolios within the Educational Development Unit. The most visible result of that work is the EDU’s in-development department ePortfolio. As we talked about what we wanted to do in order to document the activities of the department, and to connect these activities to our strategies and … Continue reading UCalgary ePortfolio platform

We have been doing a lot of work on ePortfolios within the Educational Development Unit. The most visible result of that work is the EDU’s in-development department ePortfolio. As we talked about what we wanted to do in order to document the activities of the department, and to connect these activities to our strategies and priorities, it became clear that an ePortfolio was the best way to do that. And it also became clear that we needed more flexibility than was possible in the D2L ePortfolio tool. So, we built it as a site on UCalgaryBlogs, which runs WordPress.

We learned a lot about collaboratively authoring ePortfolios in WordPress, while simultaneously supporting the D2L eP tool. The problem with the D2L eP tool is that it’s an enterprise-class tool. Apropos of nothing, the protagonist narcissistically quotes one of his own blog posts:

Enterprise Solutions kind of suck for individuals, and for small-scale innovation.

me

The use of blogging software for student ePortfolios is not new1. There are some truly fantastic examples of blog-powered ePortfolios:

Common themes for these great examples? All published openly (which is how I found out about them), and all published with WordPress. Each one looks completely different – although being published with the same underlying software, they take on the personality of the person, not the tool. Interesting. Of course, lots of people use different tools, but the range and flexibility of WordPress is impressive.

Publishing on the open internet changes how people write, giving the opportunity to formalize thinking about concepts, as well as personal reflection:

…the fundamental quality of putting one’s narrative online gave students new perspectives on how they assessed themselves.

— Nguyen, 20132.

And the nature of the ePortfolio needs to be an individual, as opposed to institutional, space:

…ownership of the ePortfolio should be solely with the student

— Roemmer-Nossek, B. & Zwiauer, C., 20133

Roemmer-Nossek & Zwiauer go on to describe three potential purposes for ePortfolios in higher education, all of which are kind of obvious and intuitive, but it’s handy to have them explicitly stated:

  1. support of individual learning (ePortfolio as process)
  2. participation in the production and publication of knowledge (presentation of content and artifacts)
  3. as a means of supporting development of ones own voice within the university (community of learners)

All three of those potential purposes are important. How best to address them? If we simply roll out The One True ePortfolio Platform™ and compel students to use it, it breaks what we know about the importance of ePortfolios as being individual and personal spaces. If we don’t provide a common platform, it has the potential to become a chaotic and unsupportable hot mess. The trick is to find the balance in the middle.

The guiding principles we are working with are that ePortfolios need to be owned by the student, that they need to be personal spaces, that they need to be flexible enough to do whatever the student needs to do in order to document their learning and to support their ongoing practice of reflection, and that the practice is grounded in current research and literature.

So, providing access to multiple ePortfolio platforms – some institutional, some personal, others completely independent of the institution – is how we believe we can best give students the flexibility to build their own ePortfolios in whatever manner makes sense to them based on their personal interests, abilities, and comfort levels.

As a result, UCalgary currently has two major components of an ePortfolio platform. We have the D2L ePortfolio tool, fully integrated into the Brightspace learning management system. And we have a more loosely integrated ePortfolio platform powered by a streamlined WordPress multisite installation.

My personal belief is that the WordPress ePortfolio platform will provide much more flexibility for students, and will also better support them as they integrate their university experience with lifelong learning – they can take the ePortfolio with them when they graduate, and use it anywhere they’d like, since it can be exported and imported easily into any WordPress instance. The eportfolio.ucalgary.ca platform is a really nice way to get started in building an ePortfolio.

The eportfolio.ucalgary.ca project is a really great example of how collaboration works in the Educational Development Unit – all of the groups came together, pitched the idea, did the research, built the tool, developed documentation and resources, and launched it. Technology Integration, Learning and Instructional Design, Educational Development. All jumping in without having to strike a Project or committee or working group. The end result is really great, and the model of collaboration is something we see all the time. Best. Team. Ever.

eportfolio.4steps

A simple, streamlined, and common platform that gives a structure or framework to help students get started. Without having to click 15 times to add something from a course. With some really good resources to help people get situated.

It’s integrated with campus systems only for authentication – there is a link within the D2L “My Tools” menu that brings students (well, anyone – it’s open to anyone in the UofC community) right into WordPress without having to login again. If they don’t use that tool link, they can login right at http://eportfolio.ucalgary.ca and use their UofC CAS account to login. Easy.

And that’s where the integration stops. Content will have to be copied/pasted or screenshot from other places, or re-uploaded within the ePortfolio. This makes publishing content an explicit act by the author, and not some magic automated tool. Everything that is added to a person’s ePortfolio is done manually, hopefully with thoughtful reflection on what, why, where, and how that content would be displayed. Automated “push this to my ePortfolio” tools short-circuit that.

And, of course, people are encouraged to find the platform that works best for them – that may be one offered by the university, or it may be something else. The goal is to support student learning, and the best way to do that is to make sure that students own their work, in whatever way is meaningful to them.

  1. MacColl, I., Morrison, A., Muhlberger, R., Simpson, M., & Viller, S. (2005). Reflections on reflection: Blogging in undergraduate design studios. Blogtalk downunder conference 2005. Retrieved from http://incsub.org/blogtalk/?page_id=69
  2. Nguyen, C. F. (2013). The ePortfolio as a living portal: A medium for student learning, identity,
    and assessment. International Journal of ePortfolio, 3(2), 135-148. Retrieved from http://www.theijep.com/past_3_2.cfm
  3. Roemmer-Nossek, B. & Zwiauer, C. (2013). Hoe can ePortfolio make sense for higher education? The Vienna University ePortfolio framework taking shape. European Institute for E-Learning, 206-214. Retrieved from http://www.eife-l.org/publications/eportfolio/proceedings2/ep2007/proceedings-pdf-doc/eportfolio-2007.pdf

Year one: Calgary

Absolutely fantastic video project by a UCalgary business student. I love that a student can produce something like this as a personal/indie/small-scale project. Fast, cheap, out of control!

Absolutely fantastic video project by a UCalgary business student. I love that a student can produce something like this as a personal/indie/small-scale project. Fast, cheap, out of control!

brian lamb and jim groom on reclaiming innovation

Having spent the last 2+ years of my life working on the LMS selection, implementation and replacement here at UCalgary, I can relate to this awesome new article on a pretty profound level. My life in educational technology has been almost entirely redefined in relation to the LMS. That’s a horrifying realization. This part weighs […]

Having spent the last 2+ years of my life working on the LMS selection, implementation and replacement here at UCalgary, I can relate to this awesome new article on a pretty profound level. My life in educational technology has been almost entirely redefined in relation to the LMS. That’s a horrifying realization.

This part weighs particularly heavily…

The demands of sustaining infrastructure have continued to dominate institutional priorities, and the recent promise of Web 2.0 has been unevenly integrated into campus strategies: instances of broad, culture-shifting experimentation along these lines in higher education can be counted on one hand. IT organizations have started outsourcing enterprise systems in the hope of leveraging hosted solutions and the cloud more broadly to free up time, energy, and resources. The practice of outsourcing itself seems to have become the pinnacle of innovation for information technology in higher education. Meanwhile, IT organizations are often defined by what’s necessary rather than what’s possible, and the cumulative weight of an increasingly complex communications infrastructure weighs ever heavier.

and a faint glimmer of hope:

Starting now. A technology that allows for limitless reproduction of knowledge resources, instantaneous global sharing and cooperation, and all the powerful benefits of digital manipulation, recombination, and computation must be a “bag of gold” for scholarship and for learning. It is well within the power of educators to play a decisive role in the battle for the future of the web. Doing so will require the courage to buck prevailing trends. It will require an at-times inconvenient commitment to the fundamental principles of openness, ownership, and participation. It will require hard work, creativity, and a spirit of fun.

It will require reclaiming innovation. Our choice.

presentation on visualizing online discourse

I gave a presentation at the University of Calgary’s Collaboration for Learning conference today, on some of the visualizations I built as part of my thesis research. I made a point of avoiding talking about the thesis itself, but presented some of the key visualizations of metadata and coding data. I also made a point […]

I gave a presentation at the University of Calgary’s Collaboration for Learning conference today, on some of the visualizations I built as part of my thesis research. I made a point of avoiding talking about the thesis itself, but presented some of the key visualizations of metadata and coding data. I also made a point of only having enough slides to last for no more than half of the allotted time, in order to ensure enough awkward silence to hopefully prompt an active discussion. Kind of worked, almost.

The presentation was intended to show what kind of information can be gleaned from examining the system-generated or -inferred metadata (title, date, author, wordcount, etc…), and contrasting that with what can be learned by “cracking open” the posts and conducting a latent semantic analysis using a coding template. The conference theme was “collaboration for learning” – so I was trying to take a slightly different angle, to see if it was possible to show what collaboration might look like by analysing online discussions.

Some of the points I made during the setup:

  • normalizing online discussion data across platforms is hard, labour-intensive, and not likely to be done by anyone who isn’t a desperate grad student trying to finish a research project before running out of time in their MSc program…
  • looking at the metadata can be surprisingly enlightening – especially when mapped in a timeline view. Why on earth don’t more online discussion analyses use timeline views rather than coarse aggregations at the week/month/semester level?
  • pretty pictures are impressive, but often don’t actually tell you anything. I’m looking at you, Wordle.

Some of the points that came up in discussion:

  • the coding-data analysis may not be necessary to learn much of what can be inferred through more automatable metadata analysis, especially when combined with sources of data (like, radically, talking to the participants…)
  • having better coding-data analysis tools may not be as awesome as it sounds, as there is the potential for having nasty feedback loops if the discussion analysis is available to participants during the discussion itself.

Anyway.

Herein, the presentation. In PDF and/or PPT formats. No audio was recorded…

on automated “anti-plagiarism” tools

I was asked this morning for my take on Turnitin and other anti-plagiarism tools. Here’s the response I sent1 – may as well share with the rest of the class… The usual disclaimer likely applies: I don’t speak for the University. I could easily be wrong about the institutional policy implications, etc… There have been […]

I was asked this morning for my take on Turnitin and other anti-plagiarism tools. Here’s the response I sent1 – may as well share with the rest of the class… The usual disclaimer likely applies: I don’t speak for the University. I could easily be wrong about the institutional policy implications, etc…

There have been some instructors who use Turnitin in an attempt to reduce plagiarism. It’s not foolproof, and raises a couple of issues:

  1. It tells the students that they are assumed to be cheating by default. This can undermine the relationship between student and instructor.

  2. It exposes additional privacy and copyright liabilities. Content is copied to Turnitin’s server, where it is stored and compared against existing and future submissions. This may not necessarily be conducive to scholarly discourse.

On the surface, tools like Turnitin appear to be useful. They do catch some plagiarism. But that needs to be balanced with potentially significant drawbacks.

That said, I don’t believe there is any institutional policy prohibiting it – as long as students are not forced to submit their content (or have their content submitted) in order to receive grades. But that likely defeats the purpose of the tool in the first place, which relies on complete submission of all content.

It was just a quick response. I may have to work up something with a little more substance to it…


Footnotes:

  1. I’m actually taking the day off to be home with The Boy™ during teachers’ convention, and wrote this on my phone so they weren’t left hanging…

May is Education Innovation Month in Calgary

Apparently. May 1-3: EdInnovation May 8-10: Innovators, Designers & Researchers: Leading a New Knowledge Network Conference 2013 May 15-16: Collaborating for Learning Wow. Wonder if I’ll be able to hit all three…

Apparently.

Wow. Wonder if I’ll be able to hit all three…