Reflection: Black History Month

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the progress we have made and honor the leaders who helped cultivate that change. I was wondering at the start of the month how I should go about writing this piece, and I realized I should do it like the leaders illustrated on our wall did anything –– with passion.

For the wall, I decided to illustrate Dr. Angela Davis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Toni Morrison. These incredible leaders have paved the way for so many people and their legacy will live to withstand the test of time. Towards the end of January, I was approached by faculty and students to see what I would do for Black History Month.  I was already contemplating how I would execute the visuals for the wall and how I would manage the content online. After consulting with my team and bouncing ideas off family and friends, I thought it would be interesting to make a Mt. Rushmore styled illustration of phenomenal Black leaders.

On top of creating the illustration, I also managed a weekly visuals for our media platforms by highlighting other notable Black leaders. 

 

 

It is imperative we look back at the people who came before us and our history. I pride myself on commemorating influential people on our wall. I do my best to represent everyone and be inclusive. We have made enormous strides but the work is far from done. From the Civil Rights Movement to #BlackLivesMatter, activists and modern day leaders are working hard to preserve the hopes and dreams of those that came before us. I urge you all to not only research the work of those highlighted in the illustration but other Black folks who have fought for change.

Student Profile: Karan and Chintan present their Masters Project.

Chintan (Top)

Karan (Bottom)

Karan Didwani and Chintan Vachhani are both eCampus student assistants who help the university’s faculty and student body with teaching tools such as Canvas, Turnitin, Clickers and many more. They graduated with Masters in Software Engineering this Fall and have big things awaiting them in the future. I asked both of them some questions about their Masters Project and about presenting their findings at the Project Expo here at San Jose State.

Chintan’s project focused on digital detection and decryption of a Sudoku puzzle using vision-based techniques. It is an Augmented Reality (AR) application that uses Computer Vision (CV) and Machine Learning (ML) to solve the Sudoku puzzle and convert it to an interactive AR representation. The AR app captures the puzzle image and sends it to the CV module. In turn, the CV module tries to detect the puzzle grid and if found, tries to recognize the digits present. It creates a 2D array representation of the puzzle and sends it to the ML module to solve it. The ML module consists of a Relational Recurrent Neural Network that is trained on 1M sudoku puzzles. It solves the given puzzle and returns a result to the CV module. Further, the CV module creates a sudoku image with the filled answer and forwards it to the AR app. In the end, the AR displays the solution image placed over the actual puzzle creating a magical augmented experience in real-time.

Witnessing the final product was really incredible as the app insistently found the answers to the sudoku puzzles. Chintan stated the most challenging part of the project was, “to integrate between AR (Unity3D, C#) and CV (Python, Flask, OpenCV) modules as they are two very different technology stacks”. A project he has been working on with his group-mates for a year is finally done and with it he says, “I feel satisfied becauseI was able to take upon a challenging project, learn new technologies and apply them to finish the project in time”. The biggest takeaways he feels were from this project were to always expect the unexpected and to always be innovative when solving sudden problems. Chintan hopes to use the skills and knowledge he acquired here in San Jose State to work for a tech company in small or big teams. Chintan states, “I hope to one day I wish to pursue entrepreneurship and run my own company”. No doubt he can make his dreams into reality for he always puts 100% in anything he does.

Karan’s project is a web application to allow its end users to carry out real estate sale online. It is not any ordinary ecommerce website because it is backed by one of the most talked about technology of this decade “ Blockchain”. In his project he and his group-mates stored all the transaction data and property data in a highly secure, encrypted distributed ledger or also known as blockchain. The complex encryption and availability of the data on distributed network makes the application almost impossible to hack and highly available in cases of failure. Karan mentioned he was happy that the end users don’t need to worry about all these technical complexities as everything is abstracted and served to them in a simple website just like Amazon or eBay.

Some obstacles Karan and his group-mates faced were conducting research on the Blockchain and its implementation was one of the hardest things we had to do in the project and time management. Blockchain technology is something that is new and just now getting traction so there is limited research done on it. Every project requires time sensitivity and having time management skills is essential in any setting. Like many San Jose State students, Karan had jobs and internships that required time and commitment which made it hard to focus on the project. Karan said, “since my team members and I, we all were doing internships and attending classes at the same time, finding time to focus on the project was a difficult thing to do. I was also doing my on-campus job at eCampus at that time. It was not about finding time to do it, it was more difficult to meet and discuss with each other”.

Karan has been working on this project for two semester and now that it is done he feels, “pretty excited and relaxed”. He feels like he has grown a lot since working on this project. He has learned the importance of time management and the value of effort. Karan recalls,”When all my friends watched Netflix, I pushed myself to watch online tutorials on Udemy and YouTube. With this I learnt how I can use almost 2 and half hour of my day for the project while carrying out my daily routine activities”. Since graduating he has joined PayPal as a full-time software engineer. He says, “I enjoyed my internships and my on-campus job, but now this is a different game so looking forward to it.”

We are all incredibly proud of both Chintan and Karan for their amazing accomplishments and wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors. Thank you for all the work and time you put in helping the campus community. Stop by IRC-206, M-F, 9AM-5PM for any and all eCampus related questions.

OLC Conference | Immersive Learning Institute

Augmented reality and virtual reality have been actively implemented in the classroom as innovative ways to engage students. Immersive learning is one of the fasted growing trends in education today. The 2018 OLC Accelerate conference provides a great opportunity for educators to discover such new technologies, tools, and trends in higher education. I presented at the conference and shared some insights on how to foster AR/VR community through the Immersive learning Institute. In Spring 2018, we hosted our first cohort for Immersive Learning Institute (ILI) with a group of adventurous faculty. Through the ILI, we gained valuable experiences on how to introduce AR/VR/MR/XR to faculty and engage them to create and integrate the immersive technologies into meaningful classroom activities.

eCampus is pleased to offer our Spring 2019 Immersive Learning Institute. The institute will focus on innovative Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) technologies and pedagogies that create immersive learning opportunities to improve students’ engagement and critical thinking. The goal of the program is to provide a focused and supportive opportunity for faculty to explore AR/VR technologies and work closely with the AR/VR Specialist to create immersive learning activities for their courses. Upon successful completion of all components, participants will receive a badge and $500 professional development funds. Review the entire program description for complete program requirements and additional details. Submit your proposal online by January 17, 2019.

 

Sharing Clickers at DET/CHE

The iClicker student response system in use at SJSU.

The iClicker student response system in use at SJSU.

The use of clickers for classroom polling continues to increase at SJSU with more than 6000 students using the student response system in their classes this semester. After collecting data from iClicker Campus analytics, Qualtrics surveys and classroom meetings with instructors, I presented results at the DET/CHE annual meeting. In longhand, that’s Directors of Educational Technology in California Higher Education (whew, good acronym).

Klaus Trilck, eCampus Instructional Designer, presenting at the DET/CHE annual meeting

Klaus Trilck, eCampus Instructional Designer, presenting at the DET/CHE annual meeting.

Presenting and sharing the SJSU “clicker experience” at DET/CHE had the benefit of receiving feedback, experiences and insights from colleagues at other institutions. Although SJSU is licensed for iClicker, this presentation included an open discussion regarding a variety of student response systems with varying features, limitations and relevance.

Professor Kourosh Youssefi uses iClicker with over 500 students in his Mechanical Engineering classes.

Professor Kourosh Youssefi uses iClicker with over 500 students in his Mechanical Engineering classes.

The SJSU experience showed that iClicker:
• Supports a spectrum of disciplines.
• Supports all class sizes, from less than 25 to more than 200 students.
• Involves all student classifications from frosh through grads.
• Engages all students.
• Encourages active learning.

Students use their own devices when taking polls with iClicker in Professor Gregory Hanle’s Economics class.

Students use their own devices when taking polls with iClicker in Professor Gregory Hanle’s Economics class.

Here’s a brief sample from the survey of faculty currently using iClicker in their classes:

Q: Why use iClickers?
A. To improve student interaction/participation and to assess student’s understanding of course content.

Q: How does the use of iClickers improve the classroom experience?
A. Clickers get students involved and learning and applying learning during class opposed to just taking notes and then learning the material later.

Q: How has the use of iClickers affected your teaching?
A. It helps me catch questions and confusions right away, rather than letting them linger. I can go over material again and make sure that everyone has fully understood the topic/concept before moving on.

Q: How does the use of iClickers improve your classroom experience?
A1. Class time is livelier.
A2. Motivates students to perform well.
A3. Keeps students alert and involved.

Q: What advice would you give faculty considering the use of iClickers in their class?
A1. Utilize eCampus program development staff – they are really helpful and
knowledgeable.
A2. Use it!

Using it is indeed a good way to see how well iClicker can work in your class. eCampus provides support and presents workshops. Learn more at sjsu.edu/ecampus.

Student Profile: Giri and Vaibhav present their Masters Project

  (Girivardhan Jigajinni- Top) (Vaibhav Kanchan-Bottom)

Girivardhan Jigajinni and Vaibhav Kanchan are the student assistants who in charge of helping the SJSU community with anything and everything eCampus related. Both are graduating this December with Masters in Electrical Engineering and presented their Masters Project in the Ballroom of the Student Union on Oct. 30th. Girivardhan better known as ‘Giri’ in the office has worked on his Masters Project for the past two semesters. His project, ‘Design and Analysis of Edge Computing in High-Speed Networks’ focused on cloud network and reducing lag. Giri says, “This network is used to perform computation at the “Edge” of cloud network thereby increasing computational speed, reducing data center loads and decreasing latency.  Amazon Web services, a cloud-based software was used to perform analysis of the packets traveling to the edge and the cloud nodes thereby helping in calculating the latency of the packets. The size of the edge network is optimized, and the computing speed is measured for both cloud and edge nodes”. There were many obstacles Giri and his partner faced while working on the project but they overcame them through wit and determination.  Giri states the hardest part of the project was researching and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. “The research took the longest. It is new tech and we couldn’t find proper simulation tools to analyze this technology”, Giri stated. With graduation creeping up he says he is glad he got to work on a project like this. He states, “I got to learn about new tech which is trending in the new market. It is exciting to be a part of it”.

Vaibhav’s project, ‘Study of Quantization & Bit-Width Augmentation for DNN on FPGA’ focuses on, “Neural Network models designed to target hardware model (FPGA), engineered to maximize precision and throughput while lessening energy and cost, which demonstrates the feasibility of adoption”, Vaibhav states. He goes on to say, “Human Brain and Machines work in different ways. Artificial Intelligence has been proving its worth in this industry for a decade now and would be a prominent aspect of the future. Data Processing rate, Power consumption, Computation needs, and Memory Maps have significantly increased”. Vaibhav told me it took him two semesters including summer break to complete the project. The most challenging part of the project for him was the Algorithm Definition and Hardware realization. He cheerfully said, “I am a thrill and happy of the creative efforts and the hard work we did”.

We here at eCampus are incredibly proud of our students assistants for continuing to be innovators and dedicated students in their field. Stop by IRC-206, M-F, 9AM-5PM for any and all eCampus related questions.