Educational Technology News - 2008

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  • Approximately 15% of MIT undergraduates will spend time studying or researching in another country. Following DUE’s strategic theme to foster global leadership through foreign travel, this percentage is predicted to grow. Using the capabilities of Second Life, OEIT contractor Evan Leek has created - within MIT’s existing Second Life SIM - a gathering  space for globally distributed students. Although far away from MIT in the real world, students will nevertheless be able to communicate in a virtual space and therefore maintain connected to their peers and to the greater MIT community.  Eventually the space could be extended to reflect real-time events and activities on the MIT campus.

  • The New Media Center (NMC) in 26-139 is available to the MIT community as a computational resource and has been refreshed with all new hardware this fall to meet the demanding needs of an ever technologically savvy user-base.

    The NMC, besides having the usual suite of Office applications, has software ranging from Adobe’s Creative Suite to Apple’s Final Cut Pro and auxiliary applications to support a wide range of activities with tools for editing digital photography, website creation, digital video projects and producing full fledged multimedia projects. Additionally, the NMC contains hardware to support scanning and the digitization of video.

  • The interest in the use of images in teaching at MIT is on the rise. ACCORD, a collaborative initiative of the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education, Information Services & Technology, the Libraries, and OpenCourseWare, has initiated a program to inform and assist faculty and teaching staff in easily accessing services to support their use of images for teaching.

    Faculty in Humanities, Architecture, Social Sciences, and increasingly in Engineering and Science have access to a large number of image resources as well as tools to use images. It is not always clear which resources and tools are best for what applications and how to get support for use of the images and tools. Often these services, including help in locating, managing, tagging, presenting, and archiving images, come from different organizations within MIT or from outside MIT.

  • The MIT Alumni Class Funds provide seed money to faculty to initiate innovative educational projects that encourage creative curriculum changes and enhance teaching and learning. Prof. Beth Coleman of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and OEIT's Violeta Ivanova PhD'98 are pleased to be among the recipients of the 2008-2009 Alumni Funds for their proposal to develop a new undergraduate subject, which will focus on analysis and application in communication across media that span written language to all forms of visualization and visual culture.

  • Molly Ruggles worked with the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT) staff to facilitate the sponsorship of OpenLabWare's student director, Jeremy Flores. A rising junior in Course 6, Jeremy is the new director of OLW and will be working in the OEIT offices this summer. OLW is an exciting project focused on making the process and results of MIT research experiments available to educators and the general public.

  • 3.021 Introduction to Modeling and Simulation, has its challenges. There is not enough time during the course, for example, to train students in the use of LINUX, SGE, and the simulation tool PWscf, a tool that the students would need to know in order to do actual simulations in class. OEIT has provided the 3.021 instructor, Dr. Timo Thonhauser, with a tool that allows students to do simulations and thus overcome these barriers.

    Here’s what Dr. Thonhauser said in a recent email: Chuck Shubert and Justin Riley in OEIT “provided me with a tool that allows students to do simulations through a simple web-browser---from their office, in class, or from home. Now the students can focus on exactly what they should be focusing on: modeling and simulation, without having to worry about the underlying complexity of the computer aspects.”

  • StarHPC provides a platform for students at MIT to learn how to program in parallel environments.  During this year's Independent Activities Period (IAP) StarHPC had its first use in the classroom in Dr. Constantinos Evangelinos' IAP 12.950: Parallel Programming for Multi-core Machines Using OpenMP and MPI course based out of the department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS).  Historically, this type of computationally intensive course required MIT to purchase computers and provide IS&T support. A year ago, OEIT estimated that MIT would need to spend $250,000 every three years to have a viable system for supporting computationally intensive teaching. This number does not include the cost for IS&T to support these computers and pay for the system administration, colocation space, the electricity to run them and the air conditioning to cool them. With StarHPC, MIT can provide the same functionality for under $25 per student per course by using commercial computational resources. With our current low use of intensive computational resources, this is a bargain.

  • Under the guidance of Professors Dava Newman and Jeff Hoffman, Daniel Sheehan of OEIT worked with graduate students Lasse Linqvist (Aero Astro), Joe Essenburg (Mechanical Engineering) and postdoctoral fellow James Waldie to produce a GIS interface to the Java based Path Planner software that was previously developed at MIT. This software calculates metabolic costs and travel time for astronauts' Extra-vehicular Activity (EVA) on the moon and on Mars.