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  University of Central Florida Summer 2011

mLearning Developer Sees New Education Possibilities

Smarter smart phones and other PDAs, with their ready access to on-the-spot information, have inspired a new discipline and added yet another lower-case letter to the digital reference list: the m.

An extension of e-learning, that form of learning acquired by computer (compare to c-learning — classroom-learning, or b-learning — book-learning), mLearning is available on a device you have with you, wherever you happen to be.

But, advocates argue, mLearning, at its best, is not merely c-learning via computer or a mini version of e-learning for PDA.

"mLearning is more about performance support — about referencing information specific to where you David Rogers shows iPad mLearning applicationare and what you are doing," says David Metcalf, Ph.D., an IST senior researcher and director of its Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab (METIL).

A 15-year veteran of Web-based and mobile learning — practically a computer-age lifetime — Dr. Metcalf recently contributed to a new compilation of essays by respected learning professionals: Michael Allen's 2012 e-Learning Annual (Pfeiffer).

mLearning, according to Dr. Metcalf, is much larger than so-called formal (school) learning delivered to your PDA. A well-designed mLearning module provides interactive, just-in-time task- or location-related information at your fingertips.

This kind of performance-oriented information, delivered by smart phone or PDA, differentiates mLearning from other computer-based learning applications.

When, in 2006, Dr. Metcalf founded METIL, he brought together teams of instructional designers, software developers, graphic artists, project managers, editors and media experts to collaborate with "instructor experts"—experts who also have teaching experience in the subject matter— to build mLearning applications.

It is the close collaboration between those who know the subject matter and those who know how to design and deliver applications to a mobile device that leads to effective mLearning.

Dr. Metcalf notes that the most effective mLearning modules, unlike device-specific "apps," are designed to be available across the widest range of platforms. "You don't know what devices people have—and what they have rapidly changes," he says.

METIL teams approach their various projects mindful that not all of their clients' audience have the latest smart phone or PDA. So they design programs that will survive the inevitable degradation when used on less capable devices and still deliver the required information.

Another Good Showing for Robotics Club's Vehicles: Subsurface

The UCF underwater team fell short of the qualifying round but won top honors in a 2nd chance competition during the 2011 RoboSub competition held in San Diego. July 14-16. The annnual competition is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

UCF's underwater vehicleTeams had to design and build an autonomous underwater vehicle capable of navigating through various obstacles in a large pool up to 16 feet deep at the Navy's SSC Pacific TRANSDEC Facility. Task objectives included finding path markers on the pool floor to different stations, docking with underwater buoys, shooting torpedos through marked boxes, and retrieving an object placed on an acoustic pinger.

The RoboSub competition is extremely competitive and difficult due to the challenges themselves, short run times (15 minutes max in the water), and building a waterproof vehicle that houses all electronics and sensors.

The team's win of the 2nd Chance round netted the Robotics Club $1,000 in prize money.

This year's four competitions —surface (water), air, ground and subsurface— earned UCF's robotics teams a grand total of $12,5000 in prize money. Funds will go toward defraying the costs of vehicle design and construction and funding of 2012 competitions.

Robotics Club (again!) Leaves (most) Other Boats in Wake

With the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition only just completed, the UCF Robotics Club hit the road to Virginia Beach, VA, to participate in the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) International RoboBoats competition.

Boatname the BraveThe club brought back a 2nd place and a check for $4,000.00 for the second consecutive year. Sponsored by Army Research Lab's (ARL) Simulation and Training Technology Center (STTC) and IST, they competed against 14 other schools from as far away as Taiwan.

Students are required to design and build an autonomous surface vehicle capable of, without any human intervention, channel navigation, obstacle avoidance and other advanced tasks such as spraying water onto shoreline targets. The UCF platform, Boatname the Brave, repeatedly passed through the departing gates and navigated a channel of red, green, and yellow buoys using a suite of sensors that includes a digital compass, laser range finder and digital camera.

Those watching the live status updates on Facebook over the weekend saw how UCF pushed through multiple challenges such as motor and electronics failure, and pulled together as a team to achieve the best channel navigation capability they have ever performed at the event.

More information about the event, including video recaps, can be found at RoboBoat.org. More about the Robotics Club and the team is at Robotics.UCF.edu and Robotics at UCF on Facebook.

Human Factors Video Earns 3rd Place Nod in Human Factors Ergonomics Society Contest

A YouTube video produced by IST's James Oglesby, an IST research assistant and member of UCF's Human Factors Student Chapter, garnered 3rd place honors in answer to a recent Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) challenge.

Society President Anthony Andre and Outreach Division Chair Deborah Boehm-Davis designed the contest to promote wider knowledge of human factors principles and practices.

Oglesby works with Dr. Eduardo Salas, psychology professor and head of IST's Human Systems Integration Research Department. You can see his video here.

Robotics Club Takes 2nd Overall in Ground Vehicle Competition

Robotics teamAfter a two-year absence from competition, the UCF/IST Robotics Club went back to the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition's annual championships with high hopes but no guarantees. They came away with second place overall among a field of 54 schools.

The challenging competition consists of four separate events: a design challenge, navigation challenge, autonomous challenge and a communication protocol compliance* challenge.

Team members (l. to r.) David Adams, Michael Scherer (team captain), Jacob Carr, Daniel Barber (advisor), Robin Adams. At center: Automaton.

IGVC, an international competition sponsored by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) for the last 19 years has brought teams of some of the best minds from colleges and universities around the world. UCF's team brings together students from computer science and various engineering disciplines, mentored by faculty from IST and UCF. The Army Research Labs Human Research Engineering Directorate, Simulation and Training Technology Center, and IST provide support and sponsor the club.

*This challenge requires students to implement the Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS) robot communication protocol sanctioned by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). This architectural standard allows a system platform to receive mission commands from a third party.

IST Recognized at Washington, D.C., Elearning! Summit

Dr AndrewsSenior Research Scientist Dr. Anya Andrews recently became a Learning! 100 Award recipient.

The award recognizes 60 corporate and 40 public sector organizations for outstanding learning culture, innovation or collaboration that drives performance. Awardees represent industries and institutions from 24 to over a million employees.

Elearning! Media Group, pubishers of Elearning! and Government Elearning! magazines, presented the awards at their Elearning! Summit held in Washington D.C. IST's award credits Dr. Andrews for innovative research projects in instructional systems development. Dr. Andrews works with IST's Retro Lab.

Autonomous Robots Prowl D.C. National Mall

Robotics Club team at the CapitalIST's Robotics Club took its autonomous robotic vehicle, Automaton, to the National Mall in April to help demonstrate the latest in robotic vehicle technology. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation held the demonstration to coincide with Robotics Week. The event's goal was to bring awareness to both legislators and the public about the state of the art in intelligent robotic systems and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) efforts.

An obstacle course replicating challenges from the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), set up right in front of the Capital Building, showed off student-built robots navigating autonomously using on-board guidance and logic. Four Robotics Club students, (photo, l. to r.: Team Captain Michael Scherer, David Adams, Jacob Carr and Jonathan Mohlenhoff) assisted by IST Research Associate Daniel Barber (far right) joined eight other teams in D.C. with a platform under development for the 2011 IGVC.

The vehicle incorporates GPS, compass, camera, and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors to support waypoint navigation and lane following with obstacle avoidance. This high public exposure opportunity, showcased efforts sponsored by the Army Research Lab in collaboration with UCF. The event also served as a motivator for students to get their vehicle up-and-running well before the actual competition held in June.

Prognosis Good for IST Medical-related Simulation Research

After more than a decade of experience with medical simulation research, IST has amassed a considerable number – and variety – of medical-related projects. Here is a representative sample...

We also provide assistance to UCF's College of Medicine and College of Nursing to help ensure the latest in medical simulation is part of the colleges' curriculum and research.

IST is 'Game-On' at Orlando Science Center's Otronicon

Wii-controlled Robotic vehicle is poised to navigate cityscape maze. Otronicon at the Orlando Science Center January 14-17 bills itself as "Orlando's biggest interactive technology expo!" If you don't count the annual joint military/industry simulation to-do in early December, it probably is.

Anyway, that other conference, I/ITSEC (just say "it-sec"), is pretty much just for adults, although plenty of youth get to tour the exhibits on the final day.

Otronicon is a video game festival designed to be pretty much just for the kids. But plenty of adults stop by during the four-day show for an eye-popping glance at the future of interactive technology. In fact, grown-ups have shown so much interest in the event that the Science Center will include an after-hours segment just for big people.

IST has been "stopping by" since the Science Center first staged the expo in 2006. The event's initial objective, to show how computer simulation in the form of video games is changing entertainment, art, education, business and even military training, fits right in with work underway in several of IST's simulation research labs.

The institute over the years has built a considerable body of knowledge about entertainment and information retention. Their work has shown how simulation can engage learners and build lasting memories much more effectively than traditional learning techniques.

Otronicon is a perfect venue, to test its research with people who are not part of the development team, says Eileen Smith, director of IST's E2i Creative Studio. Public testing helps us know how well we are Motion capture update of the pong-type game can play four players.communicating the messages intended, she says.

E2i Creative Studio is bringing two "games," one about pain management (a laptop experience) and a table-top-based augmented reality musical game, Muse(IQ)al Cubes.

Another IST lab, which focuses on mobile computing, will feature their SuperNutrition and Sports Pulse games. A third lab returns with its radio-controlled vehicle maze race, newly improved this year with a larger maze and faster scoring.

IST has found that the expo is an excellent opportunity for degree-seeking students to discuss their work on real projects. These researchers in training "need to talk to the public about their work and findings," says Smith. A public expo such as Otronicon provides valuable first-hand feedback experiences.

The annual Science Center show also exposes young people – high school age and below – to careers in science. "Every year we receive many questions from middle and high school age youth and their parents about the opportunities at UCF for research and academic study," says Smith.

Child Patient Simulator to Help Nurses with Pain Treatments

The Media Convergence Lab at IST is helping UCF's College of Nursing develop a simulator to educate children's nurses in pain management.
   MCL's research team will use data gathered from a study by College of Nursing Assistant Professor Kelly Allred and Professor Jacqueline Byers to develop a child patient avatar that will describe its pain and answer questions posed by a simulated nurse in a clinical setting (more on this study HERE).
   Scholarships from Florida Hospital for Children will support Dr. Allred's and Dr. Byers' research and the application of the computer-based simulation.
   Working under an IST internal grant, MCL designed a prototype for the game play, created the artistic style for the scenario, modeled the characters and environment, animated the characters, recorded the audio, and created a scoring system for participants. The computer simulation became a basis for Dr. Allred's follow-on proposal for pain management data gathering.
   For more information about the study, contact the College of Nursing or Carolyn Petagno. For details on this and other medical-related computer simulation research visit the MCL website or contact Eileen Smith, or Michael Carney.

IST to Help NASA Train Mars Astronauts

IST/UCF research professors will help prepare astronauts for a voyage to Mars. NASA awarded the three-year, $1.2 million grant to Drs. Eduardo Salas and Stephen Fiore, IST, and Kimberly Smith-Jentsch, Department of Psychology. The grant will support research on the health and teamwork of astronauts during extended space exploration missions... More...

Modeling and Simulation Professional Science MS Degree Offered

Two-year online program for working professionals is offered by UCF in partnership with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Worldwide Campus. First course begins October 2009.
See the M&S PSM Degree Webpage for more information...

Follow PIII Building Construction at Our P3Cam Web Site.

Perched in an upper-story window of Partnership II, our P3Cam is keeping track of sister building PIII. Most of the work is inside at the moment. Landscaping will begin in the near future...P3 Web cam ... IST currently shares PII with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and will continue to share both buildings with elements of the Department of Defense.

Virtual World's Fair Takes You 'Back to See the Future'

A computer simulation project funded by the National Science Foundation is reproducing the sights and sounds of the 1964 World's Fair. IST's history professor, Lori Walters, has the project and, with the help of Office of Research and Commercialization's Barb Abney and a UCF News Video Report, we have the story to share with you. More...


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