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Teaching With Technology Grant Winners Announced

by Kevin Durkin
Teaching With Technology Grant Winners Announced
Photo: Chatbots mimic human conversation in a virtual dental clinic, a project that received a $35,000 grant.

USC faculty members Steven Anderson, Glenn Clark and Mark Redekopp were awarded the provost’s Teaching With Technology grants on May 26.

Anderson is the director of USC’s Ph.D. program in media arts and practice and assistant professor of interactive media at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Clark is the director of the Orofacial Pain and Oral Medicine Center and professor at the USC School of Dentistry. Redekopp is a senior lecturer in electrical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

The Technology-Enhanced Learning Teaching With Technology grants were established in 2007 by Provost C. L. Max Nikias to help scale distance learning and technology-enhanced programs to benefit the greater USC community. This year’s grants provide funding of up to $35,000 to support the redesign of existing distance learning content and resources or the creation of new online content and resources in any academic discipline. More than 20 proposals were submitted from faculty in 11 different academic units.

“This year, we called for grant proposals that focused on advancing the university’s distance and online learning programs,” said Susan Metros, deputy chief information officer and associate vice provost for technology-enhanced learning.

When evaluating the proposals, the Technology-Enhanced Learning faculty advisory committee’s evaluation subcommittee looked for an emphasis on the use of interactive educational technologies or multimedia to enhance student engagement and learning. “All the proposals included an assessment plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the teaching and learning process,” Metros said.

Anderson received a grant of $19,750 for Mobile Commons, a project to extend the core functionality of Critical Commons, an online database of contextualized media clips and critical commentaries created by and for educators who use media in teaching.

Mobile Commons will deliver the Critical Commons media and commentaries directly to mobile phones, enabling learners to create annotated playlists and add their own commentaries. Mobile Commons will provide a design challenge to graduate students and serve as a tool that supplements traditional classroom teaching. It could also function as part of a fully distributed distance learning curriculum.

Clark received a grant of $35,000 to expand, improve, refine, document and pilot his recently developed virtual dental clinic within the virtual world of Second Life. The clinic’s patients consist of chatbots – computer programs designed to respond to and mimic human conversation. With the help of a large question-and-answer bank written by Clark, the virtual patients can respond to nearly 400 different queries and have a variety of ailments, including lockjaw, oral lesions and neuralgia.

The virtual dental clinic enables students to complete the entire patient-care experience, from taking medical histories and ordering tests to diagnosing the problem and prescribing treatment.

Redekopp received a grant of $9,500 to create an “inverted classroom” where traditional lecture material comprising basic knowledge transfer and low-level details are moved into video modules that can be accessed by students outside the classroom. Class lecture time can be used instead for problem-solving, advanced discussion, team-based projects and lab exercises, and assessment exercises.

The Office of the Provost provides funding for Teaching With Technology grants. The grant program is administered by the Center for Scholarly Technology, part of the Technology-Enhanced Learning group in Information Technology Services.

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