Current Research and Scholarly Work
August, Stephanie E. and Hammers, Michele L. IEECI: Encouraging Diversity in Engineering through a Virtual Engineering Sciences Learning Lab. NSF Award No. 0935100, 2009.
The Virtual Engineering Sciences Learning Lab (VESLL) project is establishing an online interactive learning environment built around a functional laboratory designed to introduce students to engineering concepts through visualization and collaborative problem solving. Our long-term vision is to create a virtual version of a science museum such as the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, or the California Science Center in Los Angeles that provides virtual visitors the opportunity to delve into engineering concepts and maintain a sense of excitement about the concepts they experience. VESLL enhances student learning via multi-modal pedagogical strategies while increasing student engagement via its welcoming dynamic environment, designed to be conducive to women and other diverse audiences. As part of an initiative to move engineering education into the 21st Century, VESLL represents an exploration of the many benefits of virtual learning environment, including: enhanced opportunities for visualization, immediate feedback, student autonomy, increased access to resources without the demands of co-presence, multiple communication channels for student interaction with peers and instructors, and innovative ways to evaluate student learning.
To explore VESLL, a student would create an avatar in Second Life and via the avatar visit VESLL as s/he might visit a brick-and-mortar science museum. S/he would begin by entering an orientation center, then proceed to the various work areas or visit virtual meeting areas within VESLL to discuss ideas or collaborate with other students, faculty, and visitors. Our long term vision is to create a virtual version of these institutions that delves more deeply into the engineering concepts they present to the general public without losing the sense of excitement they provide. The engineering modules would present virtual objects for demonstration and experimentation in a social environment while encouraging socially aware community problem solving of social problems, such as providing clean water to a rural community.
Dionisio, John David N. and Toal, Ray. CCLI: Cultivating an Open Source Software Culture Among Computer Science Undergraduate Students. NSF Award No. 0511732, 2009.