Thursday, April 17, 2008

April 17, 2008 presentation: Rick Rupp


A geographic information system (GIS) is a blend of geography, computer science, and database manipulation. It is estimated that 80 % of the data that we are inundated by have a spatial component. A GIS can be thought of as a set of tools and people that can manipulate, organize, and mine this data based on its spatial properties. The disciplines that use GIS are as diverse as the types of data that are analyzed. The common strength of a GIS analysis is the ability to visualize the results in a way we can readily comprehend.

Neogeography is a new internet-based trend where web-savvy folks have recognized the geospatial properties present in our information stream, and merged (“mashed”) that together with the internet mapping protocols made freely available by Google, Microsoft and others. What we see are maps of gasoline prices around the nation, locations of sex offenders in our communities, and the digital pushpins that show where we took those great vacation photos. Neogeography is a populist movement that GIS professionals have kept at arm’s length, yet they have undoubtedly benefited from its popularity.

At WSU the use of GIS software reflects the diversity of applications present in the wider field. Twenty-five departments/units across the university participate in the GIS software site license. On the instructional side we have a dedicated computer lab and professional grade software. Recently, interest has been expressed in establishing a multi-disciplinary Geospatial Center.

Rick Rupp is an Information Systems Coordinator in the Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences. He provides technical support for the campus site license for ArcGIS software, teaches 2 GIS courses on the Pullman campus, and consults with the university community on GIS aspects of their research.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

April 3, 2008 presentation: TED talk of Hans Rosling


TED Talk:

We will vary things a little for this brownbag. Instead of a colleague’s presentation we will watch Hans Rosling’s demonstration of the statistical animation software, Tredalyzer (now acquired by Google). In this talk Rosling uses U.N. data in dynamic visual representations to challenge assumptions about the so-called ‘developing world.’ This has interesting implications for teaching and learning and we will discuss the talk immediately following the viewing. Please bring your lunch and join us. As usual, coffee and dessert will be provided.

Friday, March 21, 2008

March 21, 2008 presentation: Chris Hundhausen


While the demand for college graduates with computing skills continues to rise, such skills no longer equate to mere programming skills. Modern day computing jobs demand design, communication, and collaborative work skills as well. Since traditional instructional methods in computing education tend to focus on programming skills, we believe that a fundamental rethinking of computing education is in order. We are exploring a new “studio-based” pedagogy that actively engages undergraduate students in collaborative, design-oriented learning. Adapted from architectural education, the studio-based instructional model emphasizes learning activities in which students (a) construct personalized solutions to assigned computing problems, and (b) present solutions to their instructors and peers for feedback and discussion within the context of “design crits.” We describe and motivate the studio-based approach, review previous efforts to apply it to computer science education, and propose an agenda for multi-institutional research into the design and impact of studio-based instructional models. We invite educators to participate in a community of research and practice to advance studio-based learning in computing education.

Christopher Hundhausen is founder and director of the Visualization and User Programming Lab at WSU. His research focuses on the general area of human-computer interaction—the "human side" of computer science concerned with better understanding how humans interact with technology, and ultimately with designing effective interactive artifacts for humans. Within this general area, Dr. Hundhausen has established himself as an international leader in the field of algorithm visualization, which explores technology and pedagogical approaches that enhance human understanding of computer algorithms.

February 7, 2008 presentation: Sean Michael


Altered vision is the means to many ends. History chronicles humanity’s diverse talents for inventing mechanisms for re-seeing what has seemed obvious to most. In particular, the viewer’s seat and its positioning in relation to the subject being considered has seen countless variations. A pedagogical quest akin to humanity’s longing to understand through viewing has been played out for over a hundred years. The rich array of thinking behind how landscape architects are trained provides an enlightening look at how we see our world, ourselves, and how we find and craft place.

This talk shares key “lenses” in the history of mankind and its landscape studies. The role of perspective, scale, viewpoint, speed, orientation, map and visual literacy are presented. The journey of seeing, discovering, and writing on the land is traced through history and curriculum. How landscape architects are systematically trained in seeing the world differently, and tasked with making space from place, subsequently offers insights into what others do not see.

Sean Michael is Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Washington State University. His teaching and scholarship relates to human response to the environment, including the preferences during recreation, and deterrence of criminal offenders. He is assisted in seeing the world by many lenses, including a KLR650.

Roads Less Traveled PowerPoint (32.6M)

January 25, 2008 presentation: Justin Smith


This presentation will be aired on KWSU-TV, Channel 10, Thursday, March 27th, at 9 pm, and again on Sunday, March 30th at 10 am.

What is knowledge? How do we reuse it and transfer it? How do we represent this knowledge in ways that are simple to comprehend for the uninitiated? These are all serious and inherently difficult questions that are being asked among people working in nearly every field, whether in business or politics, in education or engineering.

Philosopher and architect Christopher Alexander put forth a theory on architectural practice that emphasized the use of patterns as reusable elements of good design. When configured together these patterns formed a network, a cohesive whole, a Pattern Language. While Alexander’s work failed to bring about a revolution of modern architecture, the simplicity of his multi-dimensional approach to “Whole-Systems Design” prompted the adoption, and arguably a revolution among a number of fields completely unrelated to architecture. From object-oriented programming and software design, to community information systems, environmental planning and permaculture, patterns have become central principles for working with complex systems. However, as the number of patterns has grown within each of these fields a concern over complexity and usability has surfaced. In an attempt to address these concerns a number of scholars have begun to focus upon the visual representation and ontological configuration of pattern languages. Yet, despite the strides made with knowledge mapping and information visualization, pattern users have been slow to incorporate these approaches into their knowledge base.

To prompt further thinking on the topic of patterns and pattern language representation, this talk hopes to address possible opportunities for representing patterns that enable users to traverse the multiple dimensions
of a pattern language, as well as discuss some of the problems associated with current approaches to the visualization of a complex system of knowledge.

Justin Smith is an Environmental Science and Regional Planning Ph.D student at WSU. His primary research is centered upon the integration of Christopher Alexander's theory of "Patterns" and "Pattern Languages" as a conceptual framework for collaborative community problem-solving and sustainable development.

Friday, November 30, 2007

December 6, 2007 presentation: Brett Atwood


New digital education spaces are emerging through the use of popular virtual world technologies, such as Second Life. These 3D platforms enable participants to cooperate and collaborate on shared learning initiatives using real-time voice, text chat and visual-spatial reasoning skills. Several leading academic institutions, including Harvard and Stanford, have already created globally-networked, 3D “classrooms” that connect students with their instructors via both traditional lectures and unconventional learning exercises that are held “in-world.” This presentation will include a live demonstration of Second Life and a virtual walk-through of some of the more popular education uses, including: distance learning tools, inworld presentation tips, experiential and cooperative learning exercises, in-world research projects and product simulations.

Brett Atwood is a print and online journalist, whose writings have appeared in Billboard, Rolling Stone, Vibe, Hollywood Reporter and other publications. During his five-year stint as new media editor at Billboard, he was among the first reporters to document the development of Internet-based digital downloading and streaming media technologies. His expertise in this area has resulted in numerous analyst and commentator appearances at several national print and TV outlets, including Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, CBS Evening News, USA Today and Wall Street Journal. Brett has held managing editor positions at both and RealNetworks, where he managed and developed editorial content for various Web-based initiatives. In addition, he co-founded Internet music service Rolling Stone Radio with Rolling Stone magazine. He is currently working with Linden Lab, maker of online 3D virtual world Second Life, on various Web initiatives.

November 8, 2007 presentation: Susan Kilgore


Using Images to Promote Critical Thinking Raised as they have been on a steady diet of computer games, the internet, cell phones, videos, dvds, cds, and other forms of electronic technology, contemporary college students have spent less time reading books than any college generation before them. In fact, even as college graduates, they will have spent approximately half as much time with books as they have playing video games, and about 1/4 as much time reading as watching tv.

All this exposure to images has created learners whose preferred learning style is image-based, a preference so extreme that it is increasingly difficult to use more traditionally based texts. Yet, if these students are reputed to be "much more visual" than students in the past, their "visuality" and preference for learning from images over books does not translate into higher degrees of visual literacy nor into greater critical thinking abilities about other types of text. Evidence and experience seem to indicate greater exposure to images has not yet fostered greater visual sophistication.

Susan Kilgore proposes a discussion of how to use images in college classrooms to 1) promote critical thinking through critical viewing of images, and 2) to explore the academic uses of images to consider traditionally difficult abstract ideas of cultural theory. Please come.