Posts tagged ‘multimedia’

Data from edX’s first course offer preliminary insights into online learning

Really interesting — the data are starting to appear on what’s going on in MOOCs.  I wouldn’t have predicted differences in media preferences in homework vs. exam.

In their analysis of 6.002x resource usage, Pritchard and RELATE postdocs tallied clickstream data, such as where and when users clicked on videos, discussion threads, tutorials or textbook pages when working on homework, in comparison to when they were taking the midterm or final exam.

Interestingly, the group found that in completing homework assignments, users spent more time on video lectures more than any other resource. However, during an exam, students referred most to the online textbook, which they virtually ignored when doing homework. The data, although preliminary, illustrate how students may use different online strategies to solve homework versus exam problems.

While use of the discussion forum was not required in the course, the researchers found it to be the most popular resource for students completing homework assignments. In fact, 90 percent of the clickstream activity on the forum came from users who viewed existing threads without posting comments.

via Data from edX’s first course offer preliminary insights into online learning – MIT News Office.

June 21, 2013 at 1:33 am 8 comments

EarSketch rocks: Music + Python in intro for 14 year olds

I’ve seen EarSketch demoed a few times, and Barb is involved in planning their summer camp version.  It’s very cool — goes deeper into Python programming and music than MediaComp.

The students use EarSketch, the software created by Magerko and Jason Freeman, an associate professor in Tech’s School of Music. EarSketch utilizes the Python programming language and Reaper, a digital audio work station program similar to those used in recording studios throughout the music industry.

“Young people don’t always realize that computer science and programming can be fun,” Freeman said. “This is allowing students to express their own creative musical ideas as they learn computer science principles.”

via Gwinnett pilot hopes to draw students to computer programming… | www.myajc.com.

May 17, 2013 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

Students in CS like videos of Java coding

This semester, I did a couple of new things in my Media Computation data structures class (as mentioned in a previous blog post). I started using Ubiquitous Presenter so that I could ask in-class questions, let students see the results, discuss, and re-vote.  I also created out-of-class video quizzes.  Each week, I created one or two short screencasts (almost all less than six minutes), then created a quiz where students had to answer questions about the videos: What was going on when I typed X, what would happen if I typed Y, and what data structure was created?  Only a couple students in my class are CS majors.

I ended up creating 30 videos.  To be frank, these are crappy videos. It’s just me using DrJava, simply capturing the screen and my voice.  I did them in the basement (to avoid kid, cat, and dog noises) on Sunday afternoons in one “take” (okay, I started over if it was really bad, but I kept in my mistakes and confusions) with no editing.  My pedagogical point was to give them a set of questions (an advance organizer), and a video where they could read the code and rewind/pause/fast-forward as they needed. I wanted to give them more worked examples, with the opportunity to review at their pace.  I wanted audio+code because of the Modality Principle.

First piece of data: They used it.  I hooked up Google Analytics.  Visits showed that everyone visited, but not for every quiz.  Quiz grades aren’t great, and as you can see, there was a time during the semester when many students ignored the quizzes.  The semester got hard, and the quizzes weren’t worth that many points.

Second: They re-watched the videos. Average time per visit over the semester is particularly interesting.  Remember that these are 4-6 minute videos on average.  Every spike over 5 minutes means that students are reviewing the video.  I took this graph 1 Jan through 1 May. Our final exam was 2 May. Students decided to review the videos a lot on the night before as a way of preparing for the final.

One of the latter quizzes included some questions about the videos themselves:

How useful are these out-of-class video-based quizzes? Do they help you learn?

Do they help give you insight on lectures? On homework assignments?

Is the video good enough?

Third piece of data: The students really liked the videos!  I was shocked!  I honestly expected answers like, “Well, the videos are awful, but it’s useful to be able to review, and I think I’m learning something from them.”  Instead, I got things like these:

These videos are extremely useful and supplement class very well. It is very helpful to see the code being worked on in Dr. Java after seeing the concepts and more static implementations in class. They have come in handy on homework assignments when I want to refresh my memory on how a certain class or method was altered or created. The video quality and content is good enough and has definitely helped cement the knowledge from the book and lectures.

They do help me learn and I do find them useful on homeworks. I like doing quizzes before the actual class because then I can ask questions about it. The videos are short and give plenty of info about the lectures.

They are very helpful. They go into more actual coding detail than in class discussions of topics, and they are easier to follow, since there are no interruptions. They are also good because they can be watched again at any time. They are useful when completing homework assignments, because they are more focused on one topic than a class lecture, which has to give a lot more background information before we see any real implementation of what we’ve just learned. The video quality is good; it is easy to hear and see.

I think the videos are very useful. I know sometimes when I read the book, I am still unsure about a topic, but being able to watch a video about the topic with the professor talking is a lot more engaging. Being able to get the material from three good resources (class, book, quizzes) really helps me get a grasp on the concepts.

Not a single student said that he or she disliked the videos.  Not a single student said that the quality was bad.  Would you have guessed that of a class of 30 students, watching videos of Java coding?!?

Now, these responses were on a quiz.  The answers were not anonymous, so they might have been telling me what they thought I wanted to hear.  We also did an anonymous end-of-class survey, which we are just transcribing now.  From a brief skim of those, the videos again turned up really high on the list of useful interventions. Students perceive the videos as being one of the most valuable features of the class in terms of helping them learn.

I have lots of follow-up questions.

  • Did the videos really help with learning?  There are lots of ways in which they might have helped with learning, e.g., more learning can result from just spending more time-on-task, trying to make sense of code and interactions and program behavior.  But I can also imagine a student, used to watching YouTube, who finds videos more “natural” than reading or coding, and so perceiving more learning, when it didn’t really happen.
  • I’m curious about the interaction between the videos and the lecture and textbook.  Notice in the quotes above that the videos are seen as providing more than the “more static implementations in class.”  Really?  In class, I use Powerpoint and DrJava.  In videos, I just use DrJava. Why is DrJava in class more “static” than DrJava in videos?  Even more interesting is the student who perceived that the video (watching somebody code) added more than the textbook, that s/he used the video when “unsure about a topic.”  How are they using the videos to supplement the textbook?
  • I’m wondering what the role of the quiz questions are.  I asked them on the survey if the quiz questions changed how they watched the videos (e.g., directed their attention), or if the quiz questions helped the students actually learn from the videos, rather than just let the videos wash over them.
Already, the new intervention is a success for me, in the sense of raising questions, getting results I didn’t expect, and having students engaging with the intervention. I want to try this again, and really study what’s going on.
Important caveats:   I have the students’ permission to share what they wrote.  These are not research results.  These are the results of a teacher evaluating his new intervention and sharing how it worked.  As a researcher, these are pilot results that inform later studies.

May 4, 2011 at 10:17 am 10 comments

Supporting Creativity but maybe not Creation

The cited blog post is critiquing Apple for having wonderfully creative technology but not well supporting software creation — and what does that mean for the future of computing, as Apple becomes the copied model.  Apple’s tools are used often by professionals in the creativity profession, but too often, those professionals aren’t also involved in creating new technology, even if just for themselves, and Apple isn’t really helping them make that move.  We saw a form of that in Brian Dorn’s dissertation work, where graphics artists had wonderful tools for creating digital media, but fended for themselves in learning to create software.

The concern voiced in this blog is that so-goes-Apple then so-goes-the-industry. This does seem to be a problem in our industry (is it true for all industries?) that ,when one company pulls ahead into a virtual monopoloy, everyone else adopts the approaches and strengths of the front-runner.  How many “next Microsofts” or “next Googles” or “next Facebooks” have you heard about?  The strengths and weaknesses of that company’s approach becomes the model that everyone copies.

Apple’s abysmally, disastrously worst ideas will be mindlessly copied along with their best.  To some extent this is already happening.  And if current trends continue, there will come a time when nothing resembling a programmable personal computer will be within the financial (or perhaps even legal!) reach of ordinary people.

The user-programmer dichotomy will be permanently cemented in place – even now, most computer owners don’t think of the expensive space heater on their desks as something programmable.  But in the future it won’t even occur to a curious child that the behavior of his, let’s say, schoolpad can be altered in ways unforeseen by its makers – the essence of the creative act we call programming.  We will be stuck with computers – machines which, within certain limits, are capable of literally anything – which have been deliberately – artfully! – crippled into being far less meaningfully-modifiable than our cars and houses.

via Loper OS » On the Still-Undefeated Tyranny of Apple..

April 25, 2011 at 8:17 am 8 comments

Future of Tablet Textbooks

I attended an Apple-offered seminar this last week at Georgia Tech on the future of mobile media and higher education.  Most of it was show-and-tell about cool books and apps available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad platforms.  What I found most interesting (and what I went to hear about) is where Apple sees textbooks on this platform.

Apple really doesn’t know, but they have a direction that they’d like to see.  They think that the first iPad-based textbooks are going to come out as apps available through the App Store.  There are some pretty stunning ones like the Elements book-as-app.

But that’s not Apple’s preferred path.  Apple would prefer to have textbooks come out as EPUB books, read through their iBook reader.  (Having used Kindle reader for over a year now, I find the iBook reader flakey and annoying, but I trust that there will be more stable versions than 1.1.)  Apple is hindered by the fact that EPUB is an international standard that they don’t control, and current EPUB books can’t do everything that one would want a Tablet-based textbook to do.  The current EPUB standard allows for embedding of some HTML links to audio and video (for example), but doesn’t allow for the rich simulations that we’d like to see embedded in future digital textbooks.  Apple is pushing to have the EPUB standard extended.

Now, why would Apple care?  This is the part that gets interesting.  EPUB books can be distributed through Apple’s iTunesU channel in the iTunes store — that’s the established higher education distribution channel for them.  Apps are much more tightly controlled, e.g., they have to be checked for memory leaks and proper behavior (expensive!), and they have to be signed and distributed carefully to make sure that what the customer gets is what the publisher delivered (and what Apple vetted).  Apple doesn’t want to have to vet textbooks — very explicitly.  Vetting textbooks starts to cross the line from technology into content.  Who makes sure the content is right.

I think Apple doesn’t see the problem as I do. When textbooks have the capability of rich textbooks, what makes them different from an App anyway?  Couldn’t they misbehave in the same ways as errant apps?  And don’t you want someone to do some of that content vetting?  Isn’t that what publishers do for you, when the customer-publisher relationship is working well?

It’s interesting how the distribution, cost, standards, and technology issues are overlapping here.  No clear answer, but it was interesting to see some of the possibilities laid out.

July 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm 2 comments

Google as champion of user-as-creator

Google’s App Inventor for Android has now been released, and they’re using the opportunity to emphasize how Google is champion of the user as creator, not just consumer, of digital media and software applications.  The NY Times highlights the contrast with Apple’s approach to the iPhone platform.

The thinking behind the initiative, Google said, is that as cellphones increasingly become the computers that people rely on most, users should be able to make applications themselves.

“The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project.

The project is a further sign that Google is betting that its strategy of opening up its technology to all kinds of developers will eventually give it the upper hand in the smartphone software market. Its leading rival, Apple, takes a more tightly managed approach to application development for the iPhone, controlling the software and vetting the programs available.

via Google’s Do-It-Yourself App Tool – NYTimes.com.

July 14, 2010 at 10:06 am 3 comments

The iPad for Academics — and Computer Scientists?

I agree with this blog, that the iPad is a great paper replacement.  I prefer reading on my iPad to paper, book, or newspaper now.  It’s better than my Kindle, too.  The part that I’m wondering about is whether the iPad is just remediation — it is a better medium for what we did with paper.  Or can it go beyond paper, for academics?  I’m really enjoying reading Time on the iPad.  The Time app, with its powerful images, interesting navigation, and embedded videos, is better than the magazine.  Can we create a more powerful educational medium with the iPad, where simulations, interpreters, and social learning situations are embedded in the “Paper”?

Where the iPad does shine is as a paper replacement. The iPad is the long, long awaited portable PDF reader that we have hoped for. Finally, we have a device that preserves formatting and displays images, charts, and diagrams. After decades of squinting at minuscule columns of photocopied type we can now zoom in on the articles we are reading and perfectly adjust the text to the width of the screen. You can even highlight and annotate documents and then send the annotations back as notes to your computer.

via Views: The iPad for Academics – Inside Higher Ed.

July 12, 2010 at 10:46 am 11 comments

Boredom vs. Failure Part 2: The New Demographic

On the way to Rochester on Monday (across two planes, 3 hour delay, and 2 hour flight), I read Richard E. Mayer’s Multimedia Learning, 2nd Edition which I highly recommend.  It’s a synopsis of literally dozens of studies, categorized as supporting (and sometimes disputing) 12 principles of how to design multimedia for effective and transferable learning.  I saw a lot of great ideas for how to improve computing education. That observation also has a downside.  Some of Mayer’s well-supported principles aren’t appearing anywhere in computing education that I can see.

One figure really struck me, and I’m including it here (hoping that a single figure counts as ‘fair use’):

This figure summarizes four studies where student data were split based on the amount of prior knowledge that students had about the field of study.  In one experiment, the experimental treatments were integrating text and pictures (text next to pictures) and the other where they were separated.  In the other three experiments, students were shown text with supporting illustrations vs. only text.

What’s striking about these four results is the huge difference for students with low knowledge.  Doing it right matters a lot for these students.  What’s also striking is how it doesn’t make much difference for the high knowledge students.  In fact, in the first experiment, the low-knowledge students even did better than the high knowledge students when given integrated text plus illustrations.

Herein lies the challenge: High knowledge students, being put in a situation which isn’t much better than the alternate treatment, where they’re not being challenged, can be bored.  This figure highlights the trade-off that I mentioned in a previous post.  Do we risk failing the low-knowledge students by catering to the high-knowledge students, or do let the high-knowledge students be bored but help the low-knowledge students succeed?

Can we get success and challenge for all students?  That’s a great research goal!  However, we don’t know how right now, at least, that I can find in the research literature.  And since we’re not currently practicing the learning design principles that support low-knowledge students’ success, I suspect that we’re a long way from reaching that perfect path.

All of this is particularly salient for me this morning. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported this morning that Georgia is now one of the first four states in the US to have majority low-income, underrepresented-minority students.  More than half of all students in Georgia public schools qualify for free lunches, and are Black, Latino, or Asian-Pacific Islanders.  These students tend to be lower-knowledge than the majority, higher SES students.  If we want to succeed at educating these students, we have to figure out how to use the principles that work best with them.  That may mean boring some middle and upper class White kids.  I think that’s better than failing out more than half the students, but that is a hard decision to make.

January 7, 2010 at 11:05 am 8 comments


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