UW Bothell Learning Technologies Blog Rotating Header Image

learning technologies

Unity Offers Gaming Software Licenses to Universities for Free

14709490978_f420599856_b

How does working with real gaming engines in the classroom sound? Like every programmer’s dream, right? The gaming giant Unity Technologies is offering their software to selective colleges/universities around the U.S. for free. Students are able to work on the platform to create many great projects that include virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). These two fields have become the new craze in the gaming world, medical field and the classrooms. This could be extremely helpful in reinforcing interdisciplinary subjects.

The programmers could work with current generation biology and art students to help design programs for the next generation of students using VR or AR. There could be a time where students could wear headsets to look at 3D images of the brain and dissect it into all the individual parts without even needing a scalpel. The possibilities of this software is limitless.

While many different students use base line programs nothing gives that true feeling of being a coder like working on a big-name’s software. While the program is currently only for a selective few it has put nearly 300,000 students in the hands of Unity’s software since 2015 and is growing every day. Which means only more to come and more students to create. Unity states that they hope to develop workforce skills and continue in the advancement of individual’s careers.

For more information on this topic click here.

Faculty Support

According to a recent Campus Technology 2016 Teaching with Technology survey, about a third of educators do not feel sufficiently supported in their use of technology on campus. The poll surveyed faculty members across the country about the technology used for their teaching and learning, what they wish for, and what they see in the future.

Although, it seems as if most faculty don’t need that much help. The majority of educators surveyed were confident in their ability to use technology with a solid 79 percent saying that their skills in tech are “maxed out” or they had the knowledge to “get the job done”. While on the other end, less than 3 percent acknowledged that they have tech skills that are “below average” or nonexistent. However, the faculty aren’t always confident in their students. More than half of the teachers, 52 percent, state that their students are only average in terms of technology; while 39 percent said that their students are either excellent or above average.

thing

A science faculty member at a community college in Nebraska emphasized that while students have skills in games and Facebook, they are almost clueless about school or office software that is used for work rather than entertainment. When help is needed, about 30 percent of the instructors go the help desk or IT department before using another source. That’s followed by a 29 percent that use online resources, peers, and instructional technologists. The instructor from Nebraska stated that the survey isn’t fully represented, with self-service training as his choice. At his institution, Lynda.com is made free to all faculty and is a video streaming course service that “helps when trying to learn new tech skills, which we can then share with our students.”

A faculty member from the library of an Indiana university advised there be integration of instructional designers into academic departments. She also suggested that we stop viewing online classes as something new because by now, they should be a “part of the regular teaching landscape.”

For more information, please visit the main article here.

User Shadowing to Improve Student Quality of Life

shadow

UX (user experience) teams are very important to the app development process because it gives developers perspective on how a user will use their product. This feedback guides developers to make an app that meets user expectations and even adds features the user might find useful but wasn’t looking for in the first place. To get a better insight on how a user might use their product, the developer will employ a team to ‘shadow’ certain users in order to understand what issues the user runs into and how they use the app itself.

K-12 leaders are already using the shadowing method to improve their students’ quality of life. By shadowing students for a single day of school, teachers learned how much time their students spent waiting in line, how little interaction they had with their teachers, and how exhausting the school day was. Higher education leaders hope to create a UX team someday in order to improve the design of their college and fit academics around the life of a student rather than having it the other way around.

President Meghan Hughes of the Community College of Rhode Island has already started employing some UX shadowing on her campus with some success. Through shadowing, she learned how class schedules conflicted heavily with public transportation schedules causing students to waste time just getting to and from school. Most college currently don’t have a UX team but higher education leaders one-day hope to implement the shadowing method (among many others) to improve their students’ quality of life. Some improvements currently being considered are class registration, class scheduling, textbook costs, financial aid, and the ease of the school’s online systems.

To learn more about this topic click here.

Can an MIT Computer Learn to Scare You?

In the spirit of Halloween, MIT has produced a program that will learn to scare the user. They call it Nightmare Machine. Three researchers at MIT are using deep-learning algorithm to teach a computer to produce images of faces and places that scare people. One of the biggest fear invoking concepts is the threat that machines will act independently of their operators.

One of the researchers says, “We know AI terrifies us in the abstract sense, but can AI scare us in the immediate, visceral sense?”. He wants to make an algorithm that would create a “fake” set of faces from real images, then another algorithm to extract the image system from one photo and apply it to another. For example, they could choose a zombie-like feature from one image and apply them to a computer-generated face. The result is a contortion that might be called scary.

In order to learn whether the computer-generated images can scare people, the machine needs human participants. The computer will learn from volunteered responses on which kinds of images are considered scary and which aren’t.

One professor that is a researcher on this project knows a lot about fear. The focus of her studies is a sociologist, and she says teaching a computer to scare people will be difficult. Fear is distinctly personal and depends on individual experience. She says that with faces, expressions can be interpreted differently based on one’s culture. However, the idea of that people are repulsed by faces that look nearly human but slightly off – could also be fruitful ground.

photo_79065_landscape_850x566

For more information on this topic click here.

Flipped Classrooms

flipped

With the increase of classroom technology, teachers are finding new ways to structure their classrooms through the use of digital media. The University of Wisconsin’s Engineering cohort has adopted one such teaching style known as the “flipped classroom” method. In this method, the teacher sends lectures to their students to watch at home and then applies those skills in the classroom.

The University of Wisconsin’s first engineering cohort initially started with 4 flipped classrooms but has seen a rise in this style of teaching and even encourages teachers to adopt the model. This model challenges professors to provide the lecture videos, but in return, helps their students gain valuable communications and collaboration skills. Greg Moses, an engineering physics professor, has seen a positive correlation to student grades with this new system and even points out that they have a stronger mastery of the material.

In hopes of spreading the new and innovative classroom model, The University of Wisconsin hosted a workshop lead by their chair of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), John Booske. Over 30 other heads of the ECE department around the US attended and learned about the flipped classrooms and the positive effects of learning through blended instruction.

For more information on this topic visit the main article here.