Glittery Digitry

Ahhh, the good old days.
by Mary Shafer

Possibly you remember.

Squeaky chalk-on-blackboard. Dry-as-dust textbook. Thumb-sized professor way down there behind the podium.

Now fast-forward to 21st century CLA.

There's still a place for the lecture, tobe sure, but for today's students, evenPowerPoint presentations can seem positively outdated. Teaching and learning­­—not to mention research and outreach—have become wired, interactive, electronic, immediate, and, most would say, a lot more fun.

Take a look at some of the more innovative—and spectacular!—uses of technology around CLA.

You think art is static?

Something only for the gallery wall?Fasten your seatbelt. Art on Wheels is a hands-on class in which students create video works with mobile projection units that include a specially designed bicycle, generator, laptop, powerful projector, and control interface. Students project their work onto urban buildings—or even trees and streets. The program is under the direction of assistant professor of art Ali Momeni.

The Eyes Have It: Sometimes you just can't get close enough

And if you want to measure eye movement, well, you have to get really, really close. To do that, researchers in fields like psychology and cognitive linguistics are using a device called an eye tracker. Set up in CLA's Social and Behavioral Sciences Laboratory in Blegen Hall, the eye tracker measures and records eye movements correlated with displays on a computer screen. The research applications are practically infinite—the tracker can measure everything from driver fatigue to
reading rates in people with vision-field loss.

Multiple choice in the 21st century

Some students use “clickers" in the classroom these days. It works like this: The professor asks students to respondto a question. They do, using handheld devices. A computer tallies the results and, at the teacher's signal, a histogram (bar graph) displays the results on a projection screen in front of the room. Because each student's selection is anonymous and no one has to raise a hand, the clicker bypasses peer pressure.Known technically as “student response systems" (SRs), clickers are battery-operated and handheld—more or less like small TV remotes, except that the buttons are used to submit answers, rather than change channels.

The Blegen Hall closets that once stored maps are empty. No need for flat maps when goggles and a 3Dprojection system take you on virtual field trips: the GeoWall. Used mostly in geography and geology classes, it employs two projectors and polarized glasses to allow everyone to view at the same time. If it's not feasible to take an entire class on a field trip, for example, the GeoWall becomes the alternative. Geography assistant professor Susy Ziegler and two of her colleagues, senior cartographer Mark Lindberg and graduate student Dan Sward, have also used the GeoWall in the community
with students and older adults.

So the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the culture in which the language is spoken. How to do that in the classroom? Visit Croquelandia, a virtual Spanish world. Students must ask for help, apologize, and shop at the market, for example, interacting with several Croquelandia characters in the process. Each interaction requires students to choose from options that are grammatically correct but pragmatically different. That means they have to learn the culture as well as the language. Funded in part by a Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) grant, the project has been led by Julie Sykes, a Ph.D. candidate in Spanish and Portuguese

You can be a tourist yourself by checking out Sykes's blog and linking to the trailer



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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by CLA Reach Magazine published on February 13, 2009 10:24 AM.

Leo's Legacy was the previous entry in this blog.

Speaking of Language is the next entry in this blog.

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