Project-Based Cartographic Learning in an Advanced Technology Classroom. Brian P. Bailey

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1 Project-Based Cartographic Learning in an Advanced Technology Classroom Brian P. Bailey Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering United States Military Academy West Point, NY Tel: Abstract The purpose of this study is to provide an instructor s assessment and student feedback on the impact of using multiple technologies inside and outside the classroom environment. Teaching and training students the theories and practices at work in the field of Geospatial Information Sciences (GIS) require technologically-advanced classrooms and instructional tools. In order to facilitate a rich educational experience, GIScience educators must experiment with leveraging multiple technologies in order to develop resources and methods that more effectively teach students the discipline of GIS. The result of student feedback and instructor observation will show that the use of multimedia technologies is necessary to teach and train GIS-related skills, but does not readily provide a significantly positive impact on student learning. This paper seeks to inform educators of the benefits and pitfalls of using technology in an active teaching and learning environment. Introduction The GIS discipline is concerned with the ability to locate, measure, and quantify natural and man-made phenomena on the surface of the earth. The curriculum is an integrated field of study founded on math, science and geography, covering a variety of subjects from land surveying, satellite imaging, and global positioning systems. By working to solve any number of social, economic, or engineering problems, GI Scientists use geographic information systems for the management, analysis, and display of geographic information. Components of geographic information systems consist of spatial databases (information technologies), geo-processing (or analytical computer science) functions, and geo-visualization (cartographic) applications. All three components are incorporated into the suite of software produced by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) ArcGIS. Although the three components work simultaneously to achieve results of geographic inquiry, this study focuses on improving the teaching methodologies associated with instructing geo-visualization, intelligent mapping and symbolizing of objects on the earth s surface with the embedded application, ArcMap. The EV378 Computer Cartography course imparts the principles of cartographic communication and enables students to apply map design principles along with computer-mapping techniques to solve contemporary problems in geography by creating topographic and thematic maps using ArcMap. Often, the students who enroll in Computer Cartography do not possess the requisite skills necessary to handle the variety

2 of computer processes dealing with information systems, complex modeling, and geovisualization. To enhance the student learning environment, the students enrolled in the Term 051 cartography course were members of the beta-testing Pilot program presented by Tegrity. The software application, Tegrity Notes, is an innovative student note-taking technology that was deployed as a test to assess the effectiveness of studying by linking student notes taken in the classroom environment to the multimedia recording of the instructor s presentation. Evidence has shown that studying with Tegrity Notes linked to recordings has caused a meaningful improvement in students learning outcomes and allowed more content to be covered within a single course. Methodology The 20 students assigned to EV378, Computer Cartography, learned in a wirelessly-enabled, web-based computing environment with Tablet PCs, which facilitated a rich educational experience. With the inclusion of Tegrity Notes software and ESRI s ArcGIS, each lesson fully synchronized the student s handwritten or typed notes with the instructors lecture and other available media. Tegrity Notes enhanced a student s notes taken in class by linking the notes to an audio/visual presentation of the instructor s lecture and laboratory demonstration. Developing cartographic thought and skill requires a balance between conceptual learning and a practical hands-on approach to the science behind the map. Conceptually, students are taught the cartographic process as a series of information transformations from reality, into recognized geographical information or data which is finalized as a map representation. A cartographer s understanding of the cartographic process and cartographic design principles can be assessed through evaluation of the effectiveness with which the map product communicates thought and information. ArcGIS is the software application of mapping tools used by geography students. The cartography students are exposed during every lecture and laboratory to a variety of technologies in the classroom. Blackboard managed the course materials and communications, the EV378 Website contained redundancy of information, PowerPoint slides handled the visualization of lecture materials, ArcGIS for demonstrating geographic data management, manipulation, and visualization, and Tegrity Notes. This blended-technological learning environment offered to the students a mixture of traditional learning with computer-based teaching and training. During the introductory lesson, the student received a Tablet PC loaded with all the software. The Tablet PC offered mobility to students so they could access powerful, advanced handwriting and speech recognition technologies, in order to enhance the role of the traditional notebook. The Tablet PC, in a wirelessly linked classroom environment, gave the students mobility, the ability to annotate PowerPoint presentation slides, advanced editing of notes, and enhanced interaction with ArcGIS. The mapping software enabled on-screen digitizing of geographic data that in previous semesters required an external digitizing tablet. Tegrity Notes acted as the catalyst to tie all the technologies together. Tegrity software automatically synchronized student notes taken in class to the full-multimedia class experience recorded by the instructor on Tegrity Instructor software. With the use of a digital camera, document camera, and microphone, the instructor captured four

3 modes of presentation with video and voices (1) the PowerPoint lecture slides, (2) High Resolution Snapshots of analog maps, (3) software screen-recordings, and (4) empty page white-boarding. The Instructor Platform of the software provided seamless transition between the four instructional modes. While the lecture is captured by audio and video equipment, step by step instructions on the use of ArcGIS is screen-recorded, the PowerPoint slides are visible as notes visualized on a whiteboard, and physical objects are captured by snapshot. Meanwhile, the students are able to annotate in their notes (on the Tablet PC screen) regardless of the mode the instructor happens to be teaching. As an educational tool, Tegrity Notes facilitated the exchange between subject matter expert and student. Tegrity blended the multiple technologies with pedagogy to leverage the instructor s teaching methods and use of newly available modes and media. In previous semesters, instructor in-class demonstration of the ArcGIS software did not result in knowledge gained by the students. The complexity of the Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers (WIMPs) associated with the multi-step processes required to generate even the simplest maps, could not be quickly grasped by the majority of cartography students. Instructors spent many hours outside lesson and laboratory time repeating instructions demonstrated in the classroom, or written in the laboratory exercises. Tegrity embedded the visual demonstration of the ArcGIS software into the audio/visual portion of the recorded session. As the instructor worked through solving problems by navigating the WIMPs of ArcGIS, the Tegrity software captured the computer mouse movements in the program interface while the instructor provided explanation of how the software worked by giving vocal directions simultaneously. Tegrity Notes was designed to revolutionize the way students take notes in-class and study after-class. While the instructor presents the lecture using the multi-modal tools, the students take notes digitized on the Tablet PC screen. The students start a notetaking session by downloading the instructor s PowerPoint slides from BlackBoard, or the World Wide Web over the wireless environment. Once PowerPoint is opened, the student starts a Tegrity Session. The students notebook paper contains each PowerPoint slide embedded onto a lined/blank/ or graphed digital page. This page has the look of a traditional notebook sheet. As the class starts, the student s notes are synchronized with the lecture or laboratory as it progresses seamlessly through the PowerPoint slides, Software demonstrations, and screen snapshots. The digital notes are blended with the recording in real-time, so when studying outside the classroom, they can use the notes to play back the instructor s teaching. Each note taken acts as bookmark to a particular time in the recording session, so the particular topic discussed is replayed. The proposed benefit to the student is enhanced studying by bringing the instructor back from any digital note to explain topics again during review, and revise their notes accordingly. With all the lectures and demonstrations available over the Web, the instructor could direct a student to the recording to review a concept already covered in class. Tegrity Notes allowed "personal knowledge management" of the instructor presentation synchronized with the student's in-class and after-class notes. Thus, Tegrity's application of Web, interface device, and learning technology should improve individual student performance. Results and Feedback

4 The evaluation of the effectiveness of this study is taken from two perspectives: that of the instructor and feedback from students through Pre-Pilot, Midterm and Post- Pilot Surveys conducted over BlackBoard. An instructor who wants to integrate multiple technologies must spend more time in advance of the semester preparing course materials, as well as more time on a daily basis setting up and executing each lesson. Below is the list of commitments an instructor adheres to while integrating technologically advanced methodologies and tools into classroom instruction. While specific to the Tegrity Notes Pilot, this list can be tailored to guide all types of technological integration. 1. Commit to recording every class, from start to end, with Tegrity notes and Instructor Software. 2. Upload recordings to the institutions server at the end of each class. 3. Obtain the instruction and materials needed to ensure that instructors are able to use Tegrity Instructor and Notes software competently. (Train the Trainer) 4. Facilitate arrangements for 2-3 hours of training for students (Train the Student) 5. Use best efforts to keep the pilot running smoothly and without interruptions. Which requires the instructor to accomplish the following for each individual lesson? Constant management of Blackboard site, or Web Site Create PowerPoint presentations and upload days in advance Hook up computer, projector, camera, ELMO, document Camera, and audio/visual equipment, Conduct Audio/visual Test, Start Tegrity session 6. Support students in their use of these solutions 7. Instruct students to take notes using Tegrity Notes, and to make changes to their notes using Tegrity Notes. 8. Instruct students to study with their Tegrity Notes linked to Tegrity recordings (i.e. view the dual screen of notes in the view of the recorded class) 9. Obtain acknowledgement from students that they are aware of the value of the solution, how it works, and that their intention to use it. 10. Evaluate the impact of these solutions on teaching and learning Beyond the time commitment to incorporate technology-based educational tools, an instructor need also consider level of competency in dealing with multiple technologies. At any time, one software platform may not be functioning or running properly. These glitches can result in a complete breakdown in the execution of the lesson plan. Technologically-advanced classrooms work effectively and efficiently if the instructor has developed the skills for handling all the available technologies, effortlessly. During the lecture, students would be engaged in note-taking and following along with the PowerPoint presentation often making minor annotations in writing, but mostly underlining or highlight specific bullets covered on the slide itself. This isn t necessarily negative, but no development of the topic or concept was included in the notes. Overall, I didn t see an appreciable increase in the number of pages of notes taken compared with traditional analog notes for the same course.

5 From the perspective of the student, the following series of questions and ratings provides qualitative and quantitative responses on student surveys assessing the attitudes, knowledge, perceptions, issues and recommendations concerning the use of Tegrity Notes as an educational tool. Question 1: How easy is it to use Tegrity Notes when taking notes in class? Very Easy - 10%, Easy - 75%, Acceptable - 10%, Not Easy 5%. Question 2: When taking notes with the Tegrity system, what do you see as the best feature of the system? Ability to sync my notes with the instructor slides/presentation The best feature is being able to write, type, or mark over the notes that the instructor is using to teach with; this helps us to not get consumed with copying symbols or pictures. I like being able to go back and see what he said during the lecture as well, in order to key in on certain points. That you can draw diagrams and take the identical notes as the teacher puts on the board while being able to reference the slides that the teacher is using. The playback mode is the best feature of the system. The ability to make colored lines/circles around important information; that the slides are attached to the actual notes taken for that lesson. Question 3: When taking notes with the Tegrity system, what features do you think need the greatest improvement? Having notes rotate around randomly while the screen is turned. Reduce the number of steps it takes to import an instructor s presentation and attach the video/audio part of the lecture. The playback needs the greatest improvement because there were and sometimes still, times when I couldn t get the playback to work properly. Slides with several pictures on it that overlap each other block the previous picture. Question 4: How many pages of notes have you typically taken in each session of the (pilot) class? 0 5% 1 10% 2-10%, 3 55%, 4 10%, % Question 5: Did you have problems with any of the following at the beginning of the semester?

6 Category Positive Experience Negative Experience Installing the software 80% 20% Using Notes in classroom 70% 30% Viewing Recordings at home 45% 55% Not synchronized 60% 40% Question 6: (after Tech support): Do you CURRENTLY have problems with any of the following? Category Positive Experience Negative Experience Installing the software 100% 0% Using Notes in classroom 95% 5% Viewing Recordings at home 100% 0% Not synchronized 90% 10% Question 7: How many times have you viewed Tegrity recordings since the beginning of the semester? 0 5%, %, %, %, % Question 8: Consider the one recording that you used the most, how many times did you click on a specific note that you took during class to view the corresponding instructor s video? 0 35%, %, %, % Question 9: How much does the fact that your notes are synchronized with the instructor s class recording add to the quality of your learning? Very Significant Contribution 5% Significant Contribution 30% Not Significant 35% Not adding anything 5% Distracting from learning 5% Too early to say 20% Question 10: What is the greatest advantage of using the technology to review your notes in the Barracks? Allows me to focus on the lecture and not so much on having to write down all of the information No question as to what the instructor actually said about a topic

7 I can view lecture multiple times You could go back and hear exactly what the instructor said about a certain topic. You don t have to get every word the instructor says onto your notes page; you can just reference it later. Being able to view the notes with the PowerPoint s and being able to go back to the actual lesson in class and listen to what the instructor had to say in case it was missed. Question 11: What is the greatest disadvantage of using the technology to review your notes in the Barracks? You can t just open to a page, like a notebook or a textbook. Have to try to remember when/where a topic was discussed, spend time finding the right location in the presentation. Technology is slow or it doesn t always work. Sometimes the server will not work; it takes a long time to access the information you want. Question 12: Overall, on a 1-10 scale, what do you think of the technology? 1=distraction 10=perfect 3 10% 5 15% 6 30% 7 25% 8 20% Conclusions Although the goal of the study was to apply the Web, interface devices, and learning technology to improve individual student performance and to cover more content within a single course, results show that many barriers prevented any noticeable improvement to student performance, and no appreciable increase of course content was noted. As the Pilot was tested in beta-version, the class experienced technical problems for the first 6-8 lecture periods. Between bandwidth problems associated with connecting wirelessly to the intranet, time-synchronization problems between the instructor and student computers, time problems between local and distant Servers, and ArcGIS licensing issues, students became frustrated very early in the Pilot. Thus, students didn t fully actualize the benefits they could have realized by viewing the recordings of the lectures. Overall, the students found the technology intuitive to start, and easy to use. They understood the proposed benefit of classroom notes synchronized to an audio/visual recording of lecture for the optional review / examination preparation. Quantifiable numbers generated during the evaluation process indicate that they rarely took advantage of linking to the recorded sessions to assist with preparing for examinations.

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