Exploring Google Tango

Google TangoProject Tango is a line of Google smartphones and tablets featuring the ability to accurately track position in space with a new depth-sensing camera. Tracking position on a traditional smartphone is limited and has a large margin of error, making the technology largely unreliable in this application. The unique camera on Project Tango devices allows them to “see the world in 3D,” taking photos that capture the distance from the camera rather than capturing color for each pixel. Project Tango devices track movement of objects in the camera’s frame. Because of this, they can accurately estimate how the camera must have moved to cause objects to shift in this way. The tracking ability in the Project Tango devices opens up exciting new possibilities in a variety of fields.

“At Academic Technologies, we are very excited about Project Tango. It is extremely promising technology, and quite easy to program for,” says Ryan McGrail. Ryan has been leading the exploration of Project Tango at Notre Dame, and is in the early stages of understanding the device and its potential. “I am quickly discovering how I can apply these new features to the apps we create. It is a very well-built device, and lends itself to imaginative implementations in our apps,” he says. Ryan has also observed shortcomings of Tango. The 3D camera is not effective for scanning objects in the distance, or outdoor environments. If the camera is obscured, it attempts to interpret motion from a black image. This can lead to inaccurate data. “The good aspects of these devices far outweigh their problems,” Ryan says. He believes that the kinks observed in the developer version of Tango will be worked out before the devices hit the market.

Currently, Ryan is using Tango in a partnership with Notre Dame’s architecture program. They are developing a blueprint-reconstruction tool that would allow the user recreate a space inside a Tango device by simply walking around the building. The 3D model created with Tango easily translates into blueprints of the space, and can be imported into architecture programs. Beyond this current project, Ryan sees vast potential for Project Tango at Notre Dame. “Tango can be used as a handheld frame to see the world…We could use the devices to map out buildings on campus, such as the main building. With the models saved to a few Tango devices, Notre Dame admission officers could take them around the country, and allow prospective students to “walk” around the buildings for themselves.” Tango could also be utilized in the classroom, creating an opportunity for instructors to virtually bring students to a museum on the other side of the world, or for designers to see their work come to life. “The possibilities are truly endless, and this is just one of the simplest ways to implement Project Tango,” Ryan says. We look forward to continuing to explore the Google Tango technology, and will keep you updated as we progress.

Active Learning With Echo360

Echo360 is an active learning platform designed for use in higher education. It has many applications for digital learning, including:

  • Lecture Capture: Learning is optimized with lecture capture and webcast capabilities. Echo360 features 1080 pixel, high definition capture with the ability to schedule recordings in advance and publish automatically. These features make the system well-suited for remote teaching. Instructors can record course presentations on Mac or PC from their home or office, or they can capture lessons right in the classroom.

 

  • Instructional Content Management: Echo360 provides a Learning Library that streamlines the content management process, storing all materials in one place. Instructors can search and filter through their content. Materials are easily shared through the university’s learning management system.

 

  • Student Engagement: Echo360 allows instructors to cater to different learning styles. Students are able to follow videos, notes, and discussions at their own pace. With discussion threads and an active learning platform, students can ask questions and engage in course discussion in real time. Instructors can also build polls and quizzes directly into their presentation.   

 

  • Analytics: Instructors can access an analysis of course performance and individual progress. Further, instructors can establish what success metrics are most important to them, and prioritize the metrics they want to focus on.

 
Digital learning through Echo360 creates a unique opportunity for multi-media student engagement, bringing material beyond the traditional classroom.

Remind App: An Easy Way to Connect

Remind-22ydh5z-e1405910926695

Remind is an app that helps teachers to connect with their students, sharing quick reminders about course related information. With the app, classes can connect:

Easily. Teachers sign up for the app and create a class through it. Students then receive a class code which they use to participate in course messaging.

Safely. Phone numbers are kept confidential in the class messages to ensure privacy. Teachers can only message the class collectively, not individually. They also serve as administrators and can access the message history.

Efficiently. Messages can include scheduling, voice clips, and image or document attachments. The app allows you to see who has viewed attachment content.

At No Charge. Teachers, students, and parents can use the app for free.

This Remind app is an easy way for teachers and students to stay connected about course updates.

 

Livescribe Spartpen

The Livescribe smartpen records what the user hears and writes. It functions as a normal pen with additional digital capabilities. Written notes are easily transferred onto the computer, and audio lecture can be played back word for word. Livescribe creates a “pencast” playback, allowing the user to hear, see, and experience notes as they were originally captured.

pulse_paper

For students, this unique combination of visual notes and audio recording can help them retain and understand course material. Rather than scrambling to write down every word, students can focus on being engaged with class material and present during lecture. The Livescribe pen also has potential for instructors, allowing them to create pencasts as they draw and narrate difficult diagrams or demonstrations to be shared with the class.

 

To learn more about tools available to benefit the Notre Dame academic community, visit our page What Technology is Available to Me?

One Button Studio Proof-of-Concept

We’re happy to report good progress on our One Button Studio project.  One Button Studio is project that originated at Penn State, and we’re preparing to install a prototype studio here at Notre Dame, in cooperation with the Hesburgh Libraries.

One Button Studios are intended to be a self-service video recording studio where faculty and students can create content quickly.  Faculty can create short videos for their courses, and students can practice presentations, just to mention a couple common examples.

Imagine a student walks into the studio, inserts a flash drive into the OBS computer, and the software begins a countdown on the computer screen.  The student walks to the designated mark in front of the camera and begins presenting when the countdown reaches zero.  When the student is done, he or she walks over to the computer, presses a big button, and waits a few seconds for the video to be transferred to the flash drive.  At that point the student takes the flash drive and leaves the studio.  Easy.

Below are a few pictures from the other day when we moved the OBS equipment into DeBartolo Hall B011 and created a working proof-of-concept.  Kudos to Charles Barbour for driving this project forward.

camera_light comp_and_camera screen

O’SNAP on the ND Mobile App

osnap

As a college student, studies and meetings can require late night treks across campus. It is comforting to know that I can call O’SNAP when I do not want to walk alone at night. O’SNAP is Notre Dame’s Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol Initiative, run by members of Notre Dame Security Police. It is the newest extension of the campus SafeWalk program, which provides escorts for students who are walking through campus after dark. O’SNAP uses electric carts that help to make the program more efficient and easily accessible. Students are able to call and receive escorts to their destinations free of charge.

 
OIT is working to release a module for the ND mobile app to make it even easier to request a ride from O’SNAP. The user will input their name, where they are looking to go, how many people there are, and their location. An O’SNAP vehicle will be dispatched to the location, and a specific pick up point will be established through the module. The O’SNAP program has been increasingly successful at Notre Dame, and the addition of the module will help to increase the ease of use on campus. The module is expected to be released on the ND mobile app in the coming weeks.

Google Glass Gives Fans a Front Row Seat

“We want to bring fans a perspective they have never had before,” Aaron Horvath says, “giving them a brand new, more exciting game day experience.” Horvath is part of the team at Notre Dame Athletics that is partnering with OIT to bring Google Glass technology to campus. The softball, football, and cheerleading programs have been exploring how Glass can change the athletic experience at Notre Dame.

 

Footage of Notre Dame Softball Captured with Google Glass

 

The women’s softball program is one of the pioneer teams in exploring the opportunities of Glass on the field. The team has used Glass on the batter to get firsthand footage of fastballs and home run swings. The technology is also being used in football. It has been put on the leprechaun at home games, bringing fans right to the center of the action. Fans are immersed into a sideline view of the field, as Glass captures exciting game day moments up close.

 

Video Captured With Google Glass During the Football Victory Over Stanford

 

The major advantage of using Glass is that it can capture footage in places that a traditional camera cannot. Notre Dame has used the unique footage recorded by athletes and the leprechaun in promotional material and YouTube content. It has been successful thus far, as both fans and student athletes are excited about using high tech eyewear on the field. It also appeals to prospective athletes, demonstrating Notre Dame’s desire to stay at the forefront of integrating the latest technology into athletics.

The potential of Glass raises interesting questions in the Notre Dame community.  Where does Glass provide an advantage over traditional cameras? How can we use it to better tell our story? Horvath and his team are also looking into the future potential of Glass for coaches and recruiters, allowing them to see where players are looking, and give a different view of technique. The full potential of Glass will continue to be explored. In the mean time, fans can sit back, relax, and enjoy their front row seat.

Paperless Grading in Sakai

The Drop Box tool in Sakai allows instructors to connect with students’ homework using the iAnnotate PDF app on a tablet. Instructors can mark feedback and corrections directly on the document. By utilizing this tool, assignments can be graded and returned digitally.

 

How Does it Work?

  • To use the system, the professor needs to have an iPad or Android tablet available.
  • Students need to submit work through the Drop Box portion of Sakai.
  • The WebDAV protocol is used to connect the file with the iAnnotate PDF app.
  • On the iPad, WebDAV URL and authentication can be entered directly in the app. For Android, a WebDAV app must be downloaded.
  • Once the assignment is loaded in iAnnotate PDF, it can be directly marked, highlighted, commented on, and saved.

 

What are the Benefits?

  • Paperless grading is more cost effective, uses less resources, and requires less paper storage than traditional grading.
  • Students receive feedback more quickly than waiting for a paper copy to be returned in class.
  • Class presentations can be graded as they happen by marking a blank rubric and saving it directly to the student folder in Drop Box.
  • By more efficiently grading papers, the instructor has more time to work with students or focus on research.

 

iAnnotate is used by a large number of higher education institutions around the world. However, this application of the app in conjunction with Sakai has not been seen beyond Notre Dame. The method is currently available to Notre Dame faculty. If you are interested in learning more about paperless grading, contact Kevin Abbott at 574-631-8707 (kabbott@nd.edu) or Chris Clark at 574-631-7434 (clark.96@nd.edu) to set up a meeting.

 

For more about Dropbox, visit:

http://ltlatnd.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/using-the-sakai-drop-box-tool/

To learn more about Sakai, visit:

http://ndedtech.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/sakai/

Piazza Has the Answer

Students often have similar questions about course material making it is inefficient for instructors to respond to multiple emails, especially in large lecture classes. Piazza provides a solution using an answering board system to minimize repeat inquiries.

 

Piazza is an online platform that allows professors and students to efficiently collaborate in a single space. To use the system, students post questions on the Piazza site. Instructors, TA’s, and other students can respond, providing feedback much more quickly than professors could on their own. Answers serve as a collaborative space, as students can continually contribute to and develop an answer. Posts needing immediate attention are highlighted, so the professor can get to them quickly, and updates are shown in real time. Pizza also benefits the instructors, allowing them to see when in the term the most questions are being asked, and how student discussion aligns with class lecture.
The Piazza system is easy to set up and free for instructors. It has been used at Notre Dame since 2011, and is very successful.  As of fall 2014, there were about 64 Notre Dame classes using Piazza, and this number is expected to grow.  If you are interested in learning more about Piazza, contact Kevin Abbott (kabbott@nd.edu) at 631-8707.

Skype Kit Will Soon be Available for Checkout in Debartolo 115

Skype was first released in 2003. It allows users to communicate by voice through a microphone, video by using a webcam, and instant messaging over the Internet. Skype has a wide array of uses, and has proved valuable in the higher education classroom.

Over the past few years, Notre Dame has seen an increase in the educational use of Skype. Professors have used it for teaching remotely while attending a conference, recovering from an illness, stranded by weather, or participating in research abroad such as at the CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics. It has also been used to connect guest experts with the class. Recently, Skype was used for a call with a topic expert at the U.S. State Department. Students can actively participate, as the speaker is able to pick up questions from about twenty feet away.

Skype has allowed faculty and students to communicate and connect in ways that would have been impossible or very costly prior to 2003. To continue to encourage this communication and connection between faculty, students, and outside experts, the University has created two Skype kits. Each kit contains all that is needed to hold a Skype video conference: a laptop, speakerphone, and web camera. Currently, these units are being tested with faculty. By the spring 2015 semester, there will be two of these kits available for checkout from 115 DeBartolo Classroom Building.

If you are looking for a way to remotely connect with your class while you are conducting research abroad, or if you like the idea of bringing an expert into your class remotely, please contact us in Academic Technologies for assistance in using the Skype kits.