Past Project Portfolio
The Spark web site provides the Tufts community with an integrated, single point of access to a suite of tools that allow users to share ideas and resources, communicate, and collaborate in new ways using the latest web-based technologies. Spark has been designed as an extensible system that will allow UIT’s Educational & Scholarly Technology Services (ESTS) department to integrate new tools as they become available. Spark launched in September 2006 with its flagship toolset featuring blog and wiki systems.
Based on SixApart’s Movable Type blogging system, SparkBlogs allows any member of the Tufts community to easily create and maintain an online journal to document and share expertise, experiences, research, and resources with the Tufts community.
Based on Atlassian’s Confluence wiki system, SparkWikis provides members of the Tufts community with an easy-to-use collaboration tool. A wiki is simply a web page or site that is fully editable from a browser using a very simple “mark-up” language. Its strength is that it allows small groups to add, revise, and edit web content, so it is a natural tool for most collaborative writing, research, and development activities.
WebDiver is a web-based video annotation tool that allows Tufts students and faculty to analyze performances online. Jim Glaser, Dean of Undergraduate Education and Professor of Political Science, piloted WebDiver successfully in his Fall 2005 Political Science course and recognized significant benefits through providing students with pinpointed feedback on aspects of their presentations via this web-based environment. WebDiver was also used actively by the Child Development department at Tufts. WebDiver served as the prototype for the Spark MediaMarkups tools, which is now available to the Tufts community.
These tools can be used in courses that evaluate student presentations, including foreign language and music classes, as well as any course that incorporates public speaking assignments. Video recordings of presentations allow users to re-view and re-annotate their performances over time while also revealing subtleties that can not be viewed during real-time delivery of the presentation or using the naked eye. Because videos are uploaded and viewed via the web, videos are shared with classmates and faculty who provide feedback on specific film segments. WebDiver can also be used to analyzed video produced by students in a media production or art course. For more information about Spark Media Markups and web-based video annotation, please contact UIT Academic Technology.
Zora is an interactive, multi-user, 3-D environment explicitly designed to help young people explore issues of identity and to promote positive development through the use of technology. Built upon the ActiveWorlds virtual reality building platform, Zora allows users to populate a virtual world with their own creations, ascribe attributes to them, and interact with other users and their creations. Zora was developed by UIT Academic Technology to support the research of faculty member Marina Bers and her project team in the Department of Child Development.
Tisch College Active Citizen article about Marina Bers’s 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Tufts e-news article about Marina Bers’s 2005 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
Classroom Response System (CRS)
Commonly referred to as CRS (classroom response systems), these innovative, interactive tools have become increasingly popular on university campuses in the last five years. Many different CRS products are available, but the concept underlying all of them is the same: students use hand-held clickers, similar to a t.v. remote control, to respond to multiple choice or polling questions that the instructor posts as part of his or her daily lecture. The responses are gathered by a central receiver, tallied, and immediately projected back for all to see. With some creativity on the part of the faculty, this teaching tool can be used to inspire class discussion, analyze the true level of understanding on a given topic, and review the previous day’s material. Building on a successful Spring 2006 pilot, Classroom Response System (CRS) is now available to the entire Medford campus. The Tufts bookstore is now accepting orders from faculty in Arts & Sciences, Engineering, The Fletcher School, and Nutrition on the Medford campus, and students will purchase their clickers through the bookstore for use in courses throughout the term. We are also partnering with the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to pilot CRS on the Grafton campus this fall.
E-Portfolios provide a significant opportunity for students to collect and reflect on all evidence of learning, to receive guidance from the scaffolding that curriculum requirements provide and to showcase their learning, skills, and knowledge to future employers and other interested parties. Encouraged by the success of a small E-Portfolio pilot conducted in collaboration with the Department of Occupational Therapy in the spring of 2006, UIT Academic Technology conducted a larger pilot in 2006-08 using the Open Source Portfolio (OSP) and experimented with alternative electronic portfolio solutions, including support for the Ghana Gold program’s use of the KEEP Toolkit. UIT Academic Technology continues to work with CELT, Institutional Research, and academic leaders across schools and departments at Tufts to understand e-portfolio and learning outcomes assessment goals and continues to research the evolving technology field to support e-portfolio work, including e-portfolio-learning management system (LMS) integrations. We have proposed a future Tufts project to select and implement a university-wide e-portfolio system and will be considering e-portfolio goals in the context of our Tufts University LMS project.
Sakai Collaborative Learning Environment
A tight coupling between research and teaching is one of the hallmarks of an excellent undergraduate, graduate, or professional education. A learning management infrastructure that effectively supports teaching, learning and research must not only provide a robust set of services to address course management needs, but also must allow growth and easy integration of tools that enable access to digital resources andfacilitate a range of collaborations. Sakai is an open source collaborative learning environment that is being used by many universities internationally. UIT Academic Technology, in partnership with Arts and Sciences and other schools at Tufts, is investigating the affordances and barriers of Sakai in relation to other leading learning management platforms. Working in partnership with ITS, UIT Academic Technology will support a Sakai pilot for Experimental College courses in the spring of 2007.
Teaching and Learning Art History with Digital Images
As the field of Art History moves from traditional practices of teaching and learning with analog slides to new practices of teaching and learning with digital images, this project provides a workflow and associated technology to support access to high-resolution digital images for presentation in Art History courses at Tufts. Partnering with the Department of Art and Art History and with the Tufts Digital Collections and Archives group, AT has developed extensions to the Art History department’s slide management system and to the Tufts Artifact application to enable export of digital image records from the Slide Library catalog to the central Tufts Repository and access to presentation-quality images via Artifact and other digital image discovery and dissemination services. Through this project, with support from Academic Technology and Tisch Library, faculty are learning to access digital images, to develop digital image presentations, and to incorporate these presentations into lectures and seminars.
WebDiver is a web-based video annotation tool that allows Tufts students and faculty to analyze performances online. Jim Glaser, Dean of Undergraduate Education and Professor of Political Science, piloted WebDiver successfully in his Fall 2005 Political Science course and recognized significant benefits through providing students with pinpointed feedback on aspects of their presentations via this web-based environment. WebDiver can be used in courses that evaluate student presentations, including foreign language and music classes, as well as any course that incorporates public speaking assignments. Video recordings of presentations allow users to re-view and re-annotate their performances over time while also revealing subtleties that can not be viewed during real-time delivery of the presentation or using the naked eye. Because videos are uploaded and viewed via the web, videos are shared with classmates and faculty who provide feedback on specific film segments. WebDiver can also be used to analyzed video produced by students in a media production or art course. For more information about WebDiver, please contact UIT Academic Technology.
VUE: Visual Understanding Environment
Providing faculty and students with flexible tools to successfully integrate digital resources into their teaching and learning is the primary focus of the Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) project. VUE leverages the open and extensible development platform of the Open Knowledge Initiative and the FEDORA digital repository system to develop a visual environment for structuring, presenting and sharing digital information. Through VUE, faculty and students use a visual, concept mapping interface to design customized, resource-linked semantic networks that can be viewed, shared and edited online. AT received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
EcoLinkUp is an online communication and collaboration tool dedicated to connecting Tufts University’s Environmental Community. It provides Tufts’ faculty, staff, students, alumni and external partners with a way to participate in university-wide environmental interdisciplinary research, education, citizenship, and outreach programs.
Online Language Learning and Testing
Academic Technology worked with the Department of German, Russian and Asian Languages and Literatures to implement an online language placement testing system, using the QuestionMark technology.
View the Online Language Learning and Testing
Very little software exists that teaches statistical concepts, as distinct from data analysis. ConStats is such a concept tool, explicitly designed by an interdisciplinary group of Tufts faculty in collaboration with AT to promote understanding of fundamental statistical concepts. ConStatS is unique in that it encourages students to actively experiment with statistical concepts, and requires them to carefully consider their own decisions as they use the software.
Boston Subsurface Project
In collaboration with the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, the Geology Department, and Tisch Library, Academic Technology developed a geotechnical database of Boston data for use in engineering education and research at Tufts University. This project has also received funding from the Tisch Library’s Berger Grant. By integrating the analysis capabilities of a Geographic Information System (GIS) with Environmental Visualization Software (EVS), students and researchers are able to explore civil engineering constraints for construction in downtown Boston, caused by the historic filling of land in Boston’s peninsula. Academic Technology created a customized Desktop GIS and Internet mapping application that will enable two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) visualization of Boston’s subsurface soil database, which was acquired through the Central Artery’s Â“Big DigÂ” project.
View the Boston Subsurface Project
The International Research Network
The Tufts International Relations Program worked with Academic Technology (AT) to develop the International Research Network (IRN), an online learning community for students conducting international research. The IRN is designed to support students who want to do capstone international research projects, such as senior theses, Fulbright proposals, and directed-research studies. One of the goals of the project is to help IR students leaving Tufts for a year of overseas study to keep their connection with the university’s resources, faculty guidance, and the practice of research writing.
View the International Research Network (IRN)
Interactive Lecture Demonstrations Online
In collaborating with the Tufts Center for Math and Science Teaching, Academic Technology developed an online version of the Center’s Interactive Lecture Demonstrations in Physics. This instructional approach has proven highly effective in increasing student comprehension of Newton’s Laws. ILD Online is bringing the benefits of this instructional strategy in science education to students studying at a distance.
Part of a thorough veterinary physical examination includes assessment of the patient’s neurological system. Many students are overwhelmed when attempting to perform and interpret the multiple, unfamiliar procedures making up the neurological examination. The Neurological Examination is a student-driven interactive computer-based tutorial demonstrating the performance of the neurological examination, illustrating normal and abnormal findings and finally integrating this newly gained knowledge. This tutorial will allow a student to learn, step-by-step, the examination procedure as well as the scientific theory that accompanies clinical application.
View the Neurological Examination
The Human Factors Usability Lab forms an integral part of the Human Factors Program at Tufts. It provides the facility to build and test prototypes (both physical and computer-generated models), evaluate user interface designs, and validate performance results in more formal settings. This Usability Laboratory gives all human factors students an opportunity to perform hands-on experimentation and usability evaluation of their design projects and honors thesis projects, ranging from consumer products to software interface to protocols for managing information systems. It enables students to put into practice the theory and methodology they learn in class. In addition, the facility can be of benefit to students, faculty and staff from other departments on campus (e.g., mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, electrical engineering/computer science, Academic Technology, Libraries) who require human factors input and usability evaluation of their design projects. UIT Academic Technology developed a data logger for the Usability Lab system.
Download the Usability Lab Logger
Crime and Punishment
The Crime and Punishment program is a multimedia simulation of the criminal court sentencing process for use in college courses on criminal justice, criminology, judicial politics or process, law, and related courses. In it, students interactively assume the role of the judge charged with the task of imposing sentences on convicted felons in six separate cases. Students are provided with the same array of visual (including full-motion video), audio, and textual materials available to judges in actual criminal sentencing situations. Students then must proceed to render their decisions (sentences). Crime and Punishment was designed by Kent Portney and Jerry Goldman to conduct experimental research on criminal sentencing. Developed in partnership with UIT Academic Technology, this project was supported by a grant from the Fund for Improvement in Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) in the U.S. Department of Education.
View Crime and Punishment.
RodRego is a simple register machine simulator illustrating the computational capabilites of the INC/DEB language model. UIT Academic Technology developed RodRego to support Prof. Daniel Dennett’s project. The project was launched back in 1986 at Tufts University by Professor Dennett of the Center for Cognitive Studies.
Learn more about RodRego.
To learn more about past UIT academic technology projects, contact:
Director, UIT Educational & Scholarly Technology Services