William Cain

Testing New Technologies for Synchronous Hybrid Learning

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Oct 292014
Telepresence devices bring online students closer to in-class action

Could “robots” be part of the future of synchronous hybrid learning classrooms? Christine Greenhow and the students of CEP 956 think so. The class – a doctoral course on Mind, Social Media, and Society – recently experimented with devices designed to give online students more control over their in-class visual and interactive experiences.

Kubi1One device – called a Kubi – pairs an iPad with a desk-mounted swivel that is controlled by the online students so they can join in-class discussions like they were sitting at the table. Students using the Kubi have closer proximity to their face-to-face counterparts than when using wall-mounted displays, letting them see and be seen more clearly through a personal portal that they can control. The devices can run on battery power, making it easy to move them between whole-class and small group discussions. Nick Holton and Ginny Hiltz (pictured above) were two of the online participants, tilting and panning the iPads with the Kubi devices as they took part in different discussions around the room.

Double2The other device – called a Double – takes the autonomous telepresence concept one step further by letting users control a rolling motorized iPad mount that can be maneuvered around the room. A bluetooth speaker paired to the iPad allows the students to hear Colin Terry’s contributions to the discussions.

So what did Chris and her students think about their experience with telepresence devices? As Chris wrote to her colleagues later:

“The result was TRANSFORMATIONAL! The hybrid students – who have been with us for 3 years – said it was the BEST CLASS EVER!!! They felt like they were there, in the class. Because they could control the robots remotely, they could actually move their ‘heads’/screens to look at a speaker as we positioned them around the discussion table. Colin, on the ‘Double’ could actually roll around the room – getting into his small group and saying hello to his classmates.  Ginny, an online student present via the Kubi robot, asked if we could each say our names around the room and then, she moved her head/screen to look at each speaker – including the other robots. She said this was the first time she could actually put the name with the face.”

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The CEPSE/COE Design Studio is looking forward to working with Dr. Greenhow and other faculty members as we continue to explore telepresence technologies and concepts.


Lecture Capture Lunch and Learn – Oct. 9th, 12:00-1:00

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Oct 062014

Please join Terri Gustafson on Thursday, October 9th for a lunch and learn event to learn more about lecture capture applications in higher education. The College of Education shares a license with the College of Veterinary Medicine for Echo360’s room capture system, personal capture software, and external media hosting solution. There will be a review of the advantage of each feature and how instructors can use a lecture capture active learning solution to give students a personalized education using video, polls, quizzes and analytics to know what their students don’t know.

What: Lecture Capture Lunch and Learn

When: October 9th from 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Where: 133F Erickson Hall

To join us, please use the link below to sign up for the event:


Sharing iPad Visuals in Class Presentations

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Sep 252014

Fine_FS2014_Rm132_ipad and ppt_550px

Jodene Fine knows the value of getting inside a person’s head. As an assistant professor specializing in neuropsychological functioning in educational contexts, Dr. Fine teaches classes that explore learning and behavior through a range of biological and social perspectives. Exploring brain anatomy and microscopic neurological processes are crucial elements in her courses, and powerful visuals play a key role. Yet some of the most useful tools she likes to use in her teaching are on her iPad, a device with a screen too small for sharing in class. What’s an instructor to do?

IMG_0187Using technology in the newly refurbished Rm. 132 in Erickson Hall, Jodene is able to display her iPad on the room’s 80″ monitors. The set-up allows her to show her PowerPoints and video on one monitor, while showing the screen of her iPad on another monitor. The side-by-side configuration means students can see presentation content and iPad-based visuals at the same time.

Jodene uses a mixture of slides, videos, books, models, and images from her iPad apps during her lectures, often switching between media as she and her students cover the finer details of neurophysiology. Her apps include the FINR Brain Atlas and 3-D Brain. Jodene’s iPad stays connected to the monitor for the whole class, allowing her to manipulate images and bring up information quickly in response to student questions.

Fine_FS2014_Rm132_watching displays with students_300pxAs Jodene puts it, “The technical capabilities of the room have enhanced my ability to communicate very complex ideas related to neuroanatomy. Much of what I teach is 3-dimensional, so being able to use atlases that provide 3-D images, in conduction with more detailed text-laden flat images, is helping students retain information better. The more ways I can show and tell, the better they will learn.”

Do you need to do something similar or does this spotlight spark an idea for something you’d like to try? Come see us in the Design Studio (401b Erickson Hall) or contact us at dstudio@msu.edu. We’d love to be a part of what you do!

Explorations in Instructional Technology, Nov. 14, 2014

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Sep 252014

Members of the Design Studio will present on “The Synchromodal Learning Classroom: Engaging Face‐to‐Face And Online Students As Comparable Partners In the Same Learning Experience.” Event takes place at noon (12:00 pm) in the Natural Sciences Building, Rm. 105.

Open House and Technology Showcase, Nov. 10th, 2014

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Sep 252014

The Design Studio will host an Open House and Technology Showcase on November 10, 2014 for faculty and staff to highlight the features of the newly refurbished Room 132 in Erickson Hall. Speakers will include Dean Don Heller and CEPSE Chairperson Richard Prawat. The event begins at 11:00 am in Room 132; refreshments will be served.

Synchromodal Support for Deaf Students

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Apr 152014


Creating opportunities for meaningful interactions is one of the most important goals of many courses. Supporting students with disabilities is simply another opportunity for providing creative learning solutions to enable these meaningful interactions for everyone. A case in point is our work with a synchromodal course (including face-to-face and online students in the same learning experience as comparable partners) that features interpreters for deaf online participants.

The Design Studio has been helping Dr. Cary Roseth, associate professor in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology, facilitate learner interactions in CEP 910 Motivation and Cognition for a variety of students. Since this course is a synchromodal course, some of these learners are online students. John Kirsh is one of these online students who is also mostly deaf. Our solution for John has been to include two (2) interpreters who sit in the classroom with the face-to-face students. Watching John through videoconferencing and interpreting his signing for the face-to-face participants, these interpreters act as John’s surrogate voice for engaging in class interactions and discussions. “I really enjoyed this online hybrid CEP910 course,” John told us. “I am able to take the class from home and reap the benefits of an almost face-to-face class.  As a result, I saved about 2.5 hours’ driving time as well as gas.” IMG_0985554671a91017John uses two computers to engage in the class activities.

One computer allows him to see in-classroom lectures and presentations by the instructor. The second computer links him to desktop computers that run Zoom videoconferencing sessions for small group discussions that take place during the class sessions. Since some of the students in the small groups are online, videoconferencing is already supported in the classroom via desktop iMacs. John participates fully both through his visual presence and through interpreters who are physically present in the face-to-face groups. This setup allows John to interact with and present to his classmates, sharing insights and opinions through a combination of human and digital assistive technology. Using a synchromodal assistive technology setup has been beneficial for the instructor as well. “Working with assistive technologies this semester has reinforced my belief that almost anything is possible when people work together towards a common goal,” noted Roseth. “Supporting a synchromodal classroom is a complicated endeavor and, initially, I was worried whether we could integrate this approach to teaching face-to-face and distance students with assistive technologies. Working together, however, we worked through these challenges and I am deeply thankful to everyone – including John, his interpreters, our technology coordinators, and the other students in the class – for their creativity, compromise and, above all, determination to make this work for everyone in the class. In the end, we all benefited from the efforts to integrate assistive technology.”