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Computing Solutions for Enhanced Teaching and Learning in the Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering Mobile Classroom Environment

Investigators
Gitau, Margaret; Li, Chao; Milla, Katherine; Cooper, Adrienne
Institutions
Florida A&M University
Start date
2010
End date
2014
Objective

The overall goal of this project is to improve teaching and learning in the Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE) program at FAMU by providing students and instructor access to advanced instructional delivery systems and technologies. Specifically, to:

1. Provide a standardized secure mobile computing environment that can meet the needs of the various courses taught within the program with respect to hardware selection, software selection, and computer-based communications;

2. Provide a comprehensive suite of software and courseware for a wide variety of tasks ranging from statistical analysis, through engineering design, to advanced computational modeling and analyses; and,

3. Integrate a student response system to allow rapid polling of students to rapidly assess students understanding of the topic.

Expected Outputs: This project will provide a standardized secure mobile computing environment within the BASE program at FAMU. Through this facility, we will be able to improve instructional delivery by improving instructor effectiveness, improved access to computing resources, and improved student learning. Further, the computing environment so developed will be available for other uses, including K-12 outreach activities. Integration of the facility into existing courses will initially lead to at least 10-15 students trained in the use of techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice, with this number increasing even beyond the project period. In addition, we will give presentations at local, regional, and national conferences as well as develop publications from this project, which will publicize our work and make it available to others beyond FAMU.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
This is a teaching project that supports NIFAs Strategic Goals (b) Global food security and hunger; (d) Global climate change; and (e) Food Safety. This project will address the following two Program Priority Areas: (c) Food safety, and (d) water quality. The overall goal of this project is to improve teaching and learning in biological and agricultural systems engineering at FAMU by providing students and instructors access to advanced instructional delivery systems and technologies. The project was motivated by feedback from our alumni, advisory board, and other collaborators which indicated the need for increased student exposure to techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice. This project will build capacity by improving instruction delivery through the development of a fully functional and expandable mobile classroom system and integration of a student rapid response system. The project will focus mainly on the Baccalaureate degree level. This project address Program Needs Area (c) Instructional Delivery Systems by providing a system that integrates both formalized (addresses curriculum needs and is instructor led) and digital (free from physical restrictions, computer-based, participatory, and instructor controlled) mobile learning contexts while also providing a means of assessing student learning in real time. The project falls under the Agricultural Engineering discipline and supports Program Goal # 3: To enhance and strengthen the quality of Teaching, Research and Extension programs at the 1890 institutions to more readily establish them as full partners in the U.S. food and agricultural sciences higher education system. Ultimately, this project will lead to: 1. Our graduates becoming successful engineers in society, as measured through employer and alumni interviews as well as by keeping track of our alumni's career progress; 2. Increased enrollment of African Americans and other underrepresented minorities as measured through tracking the number of students within the BASE program, as well as those enrolled in the courses involved in this project; and 3. Improved K-12 outreach as measured by the number of K-12 activities involving the use of the mobile computing environment. In addition, we will keep track of how much subsequent funding will be generated as a result of this project.

APPROACH:
The BASE program currently has an interactive mobile classroom environment comprising seven notebook workstations (including a teacher workstation) and an interactive white (SMART) board. This project will build upon the existing system. An additional seven (7) workstations will be purchased in years 2 through 3 of the project so as keep the system updated. In addition, the system will integrate a local wireless network using an existing router/access point. This local network will be managed and controlled by the instructor through the instructor workstation, thus ensuring that computers within the system are networked at all times. The additional workstations will be configured to have the same or better capabilities. Educational versions/licenses will be obtained for software such as (but not limited to): Data Analysis and Math software ( MatLAB, MatCAD); statistical software (JMP, MINITAB, or SAS); Design software (AutoCAD, SolidWorks); Programming software (Visual Basic, C++, Fortran); GIS software (ArcGIS with extensions); Flow modeling software (Hydrus 2D/3D); Graphing software (Grapher, Surfer); Database software (VisioPro, EndNote); Scientific Visualization software (FAST); and Writing Management software (TurnitIn). In addition, the system will include web-based communication technologies such as Adobe Connect or WebEX subscription. The system will also incorporate open source software such as that developed by USDA, USGS, NASA etc for modeling and analyses. The system will be equipped with SMART Notebook software which will allow the instructor to create, deliver, and manage interactive classroom sessions, as well as SMART Response software, which will facilitate in-situ assessment of student learning. This project will integrate a student response at two levels; Clickers- which are hand held devises that allows a rapid polling of student responses; and, SMART Response software (SMART Response CE) which is student response software designed for computerized learning environments that provides different methods of interactive assessments. Evaluation of project outputs will be based on a combination of measures including observation, course-based evaluations, interviews, and overall grades. Course-based evaluations will be conducted using existing instruments, for example, a recently implemented tool within BASE which assesses student performance for specific outcomes as required by the Engineers Accreditation Board. We expect an improvement by as much as 20% over previous student performance. Additionally, it is expected that more than 80% of interview respondents will give positive feedback. We will also flag student records based on whether or not they took a newly implemented course ABE 2011L: Computer Applications, which is directly related to this project, and compare the performance of the two groups. The project will be considered a success if those who take the course and have access to the computing environment perform better than those who did not. We will also track the number of presentations and publications resulting from this project and record these in our implementation log.

PROGRESS:
2011/09 TO 2012/08
OUTPUTS: A fully functional and expandable mobile classroom system has been developed at Florida A&M University's Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE) program. The system is an interactive mobile classroom environment comprising seven notebook workstations (including a teacher workstation) and an interactive white (SMART) board. To date, a variety of state-of-the-art software has been acquired and installed in the system including Data Analysis and Math software ( MatLAB, MatCAD, Mathematica); statistical software (JMP); Design software (AutoCAD, SolidWorks); GIS software (ArcGIS with extensions); and SMART Notebook software which allows the instructor to create, deliver, and manage interactive classroom sessions. The system also incorporates open source software such as RUSLE (USDA), BASINS (USEPA), COAST (NASA), and CROPWAT (FAO) for modeling and analyses, as well as Visual Studio and Python 2.5 (programming). In addition, the system includes office productivity software provided primarily through existing site licensing. We have developed an implementation log to document the number of workstations and their specifications, date acquired, software installed along with the installation date and the version, details of the student response system, and the BASE courses in which the use of the system has been incorporated. The use of the mobile computing environment has been integrated into the newly restructured course ABE 2001L: Introduction to Computer Applications (beginning Spring 2011). We have also developed baseline data (Fall 2008-Fall 2010) comprising student performance in previous instances of ABE 2001L and in other courses that are either directly or indirectly impacted by the system including: ABE 3013: Introduction to Design Analyses; ABE 4224: Nonpoint Pollution; and ABE 4043: Capstone Senior Design. We have also recorded overall student GPAs over the same time period. In line with this project, BASE now requires all students to take the restructured course ABE 2001L (starting Spring 2011). We will continue to track the students concerned and compare their performance to baseline data. More recently we have added usage monitoring software (WorkTime) to better record system and software usage, and system management software (Faronics Deep Freeze) to ensure smooth running of the system by reducing clutter. We have also now added GPS units to enable students to collect field and site data for use with mapping software. This project integrates student response at two levels; Clickers- which are hand held devices that allow a rapid polling of student responses; and, SMART Response software (SMART Response CE) which is student response software designed for computerized learning environments. The clickers have been used successfully with ABE 4224: Nonpoint Pollution class and will be integrated in ABE 1010: Intro to BASE in Fall of 2012. We are currently in the process of integrating SMART Response software into classroom use. The system has been presented to the BASE Advisory Board, alumni, and other collaborators. A fact sheet describing the system and its availability has been developed to help facilitate outreach. PARTICIPANTS: Project PIs have provided leadership for this project; Dr. Margaret Gitau (PI) provides leadership on system development and implementation, as well as coordination of project outcomes, and reporting. Dr. Chao Li (Co-PI) provides support in system configuration, upgrading, and maintaining the developed mobile classroom solutions. Dr. Katherine Milla (Co-PI) provides input on systems configurations and software necessary for successful K-12 outreach applications. Dr. Adrienne Cooper (Co-PI) provided support with regard to interfacing with industry, alumni, and advisory board members. Ms. Kenya Rolle (project assistant) helps with the day to day operations during the project and provides technical assistance to faculty, staff, and students using the system. TARGET AUDIENCES: Students from 1890s institutions particularly BASE students. As a starting point, the use of the mobile computing environment was integrated into the newly restructured course ABE 2001L: Introduction to Computer Applications. The use of the system has also been integrated into other BASE courses including ABE 4224: Non-Point Source Pollution, ABE 4232: Water Management Systems Design, ABE 3212C: Natural Resources Conservation Engineering, and the newly developed course ABE 3642C: Engineering Analysis for Biological Systems using Numerical Methods. The system has also been used outside of BASE for a campus-wide GIS course, and is also available to other users on campus and for K-12 applications. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

PROGRESS:
2010/09/01 TO 2011/08/31
OUTPUTS: A fully functional and expandable mobile classroom system has been developed at Florida A&M University's Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering (BASE) program. The system is an interactive mobile classroom environment comprising seven notebook workstations (including a teacher workstation) and an interactive white (SMART) board. To date, a variety of state-of-the-art software has been acquired and installed in the system including Data Analysis and Math software ( MatLAB, MatCAD, Mathematica); statistical software (JMP); Design software (AutoCAD, SolidWorks); GIS software (ArcGIS with extensions); and SMART Notebook software which allows the instructor to create, deliver, and manage interactive classroom sessions. The system also incorporates open source software such as RUSLE (USDA), BASINS (USEPA), COAST (NASA), and CROPWAT (FAO) for modeling and analyses, as well as Visual Studio and Python 2.5 (programming). In addition, the system includes office productivity software provided primarily through existing site licensing. We have developed an implementation log to document the number of workstations and their specifications, date acquired, software installed along with the installation date and the version, details of the student response system, and the BASE courses in which the use of the system has been incorporated. The use of the mobile computing environment has been integrated into the newly restructured course ABE 2001L: Introduction to Computer Applications (Spring 2011) which is taught by Dr. Cooper (Co-PI). We have also developed baseline data (Fall 2008-Fall 2010) comprising student performance in previous instances of ABE 2001L and other courses that are either directly or indirectly impacted by the system including: ABE 3013: Introduction to Design Analyses; ABE 4224: Nonpoint Pollution; and ABE 4043: Capstone Senior Design. We have also recorded overall student GPAs over the same time period. We will continue to collect these and related data, flagging student records based on whether or not they took the restructured ABE 2001L and compare the performance to baseline data. We also surveyed course instructors to determine the level of implementation and use or intended use of the system (High, Medium, Low). More recently we have added usage monitoring software (WorkTime) to better record system and software usage, and system management software (Faronics Deep Freeze) to ensure smooth running of the system by reducing clutter. This project integrates student response at two levels; Clickers- which are hand held devices that allow a rapid polling of student responses; and, SMART Response software (SMART Response CE) which is student response software designed for computerized learning environments that provides different methods of interactive assessments. Currently, we have 20 clickers and 2 receiver bases. The clickers will be integrated into classroom use beginning Fall 2011 while SMART Response will be integrated by Spring 2012. DISSEMINATION: The system has been presented (physically and through powerpoint presentation) to the BASE Advisory Board, alumni, and other collaborators. PARTICIPANTS: Project PIs have provided leadership for this project; Dr. Margaret Gitau (PI) provides leadership on system development and implementation, as well as coordination of project outcomes, and reporting. Dr. Chao Li (Co-PI) provides support in system configuration, upgrading, and maintaining the developed mobile classroom solutions. Dr. Katherine Milla (Co-PI) provides input on systems configurations and software necessary for successful K-12 outreach applications. Dr. Adrienne Cooper (Co-PI) provides support with regard to interfacing with industry, alumni, and advisory board members. Ms. Kenya Rolle (project assistant) helps with the day to day operations during the project and provides technical assistance to faculty, staff, and students using the system. TARGET AUDIENCES: Students from 1890s institutions particularly BASE students. As a starting point, the use of the mobile computing environment has been integrated into the newly restructured course ABE 2001L: Introduction to Computer Applications. The use of the system is now being integrated into other BASE courses including ABE 4224: Non-Point Source Pollution, ABE 3212C: Natural Resources Conservation Engineering, and the newly developed course ABE 3642C: Engineering Analysis for Biological Systems using Numerical Methods. The system is also available for K-12 applications. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
FLAE-2010-02184
Accession number
223089
Categories
Food Defense and Integrity
Parasites
Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Heavy Metals