Mar 012011

I’m very excited to share the work I’ve been doing with several colleagues using underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as a tool to enhance outdoor education. The Increasing challenges of getting youth to care about the outdoors are associated with the challenge of getting them outdoors. Competing for their attention is the interest young people have in technology-related activities, such as gaming and television (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010). My colleagues and I have conducted multiple programs in the past several years using ROVs to educate youth and adults on the importance of protecting underwater natural resources, as well as enhance their connection with their outdoor environment. Since 2004, we have implemented and systematically assessed more than 30 ROV public education programs from the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay. Participants operated ROVs in underwater parks and such protected areas as Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Chesapeake Bay, or observed underwater exploration via national broadcasts from dive sites. As a result of participation, individuals became connected to, expressed pro-environmental attitudes toward, and indicated a propensity to engage in protective behaviors toward those places on completion of the program. We are most recently using the ROV to enhance a three-year Chesapeake Bay Watershed education program with Fairfax County Public Schools and look forward to future applications of this exciting technology.

Submitted by Laurie Harmon, assistant professor and program coordinator for Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies in the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism

Feb 112011

As an adjunct faculty member, teaching in the College of Education and Human Development, it is important for me to know the names of my students and how to pronounce them. I also want my students to quickly learn each other’s names. To support this effort, on the first night of class, I have students come into my “recording studio” (the hallway), and I record a short movie where the student does a self-introduction.

Before the next class meeting, I use my rudimentary skills in Windows Movie-Maker and build a short video that consists of each student stating his or her name, along with a visual of the name for reinforcement. We watch this during the second class meeting as a way to help us learn names.

I also frame this as an instructional activity that my students (current and future teachers) may use with their own K–12 students. We brainstorm different ways to use this with learners and talk about the pros and cons of this idea.

Overall, I’ve found it to be very positive and useful in my courses—and I learn everyone’s name really quickly! I encourage you to take a look at this semester’s class—they’re wonderful!

Submitted by Anita Bright, adjunct faculty member, College of Education and Human Development

Feb 112011

This semester, my graduate students are designing conceptual prototypes for the use of augmented reality (layering or accessing digital information on the real world through mobile phone technology) in education in EDIT 732 Analysis and Design of Technology-Based Learning Environments. The student groups are tackling education and learning problems, such as learning geometry, reinforcing the learning of chemistry lessons for homeschoolers, promoting history learning, and enhancing informal museum learning experiences at Mount Vernon, using augmented reality.

We continually strive for innovation in the Instructional Technology program, taking on external and internal clients to tackle formal and informal learning problems with systematic instructional design processes to promote innovative learning technology design solutions.

Submitted by Brenda Bannan, associate professor, College of Education and Human Development

Feb 102011

Sixty-five 19th-century plaster casts of ancient western and eastern, medieval, and renaissance works of art were acquired from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and have been stored, cleaned, catalogued, mounted, copied, and exhibited on the Fairfax and Prince William Campuses. Students, faculty, and administrators collaborated on the project. Carol Mattusch, Mathy Professor of History and Art History and a world-renowned expert on ancient bronzes, spearheaded the acquisition of the plaster casts, which had been in storage for decades after the museum replaced its cast collection with original works of art.

Submitted by Carol Mattusch, Mathy Professor of Art History

Feb 102011

In March, I initiated an effort to create the Fall Commuter Challenge between the University of Maryland and George Mason University. This ended up becoming a collaborative effort among Human Resources, Transportation, and Sustainability, and the University of Maryland, to encourage employees and students to use alternative modes of transportation, other than driving alone, to get to campus. Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation, played a key role in making this event a reality.

The challenge ran from September 22 (car-free day) to October 22. We used Zimride to track the mode of transportation used by individuals during the challenge. Zimride is a website that helps people find carpooling opportunities. The challenge was designed to have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the number of commuting trips made in single occupancy vehicles. The University of Maryland led the way in all categories of the competition: number of registrations, participation in the event, number of trips saved, and amount of CO2 reduced. But Mason demonstrated a strong environmental focus with 186 registrations, 41 people tracking their commutes, 378 trips saved, and a reduction of 8,642 pounds of CO2. Overall, the challenge had a significant impact with both universities contributing to a reduction in traffic congestion, a reduction of CO2 emissions, and getting people to try alternative modes of transportation. The total amount of CO2 emissions reduced during the event amounted to 28,517 pounds, and there was a reduction in the amount of gasoline potentially used by approximately 1,622 gallons. This was an innovative way to bring members of the Mason team together to make a difference.

We are looking to hold another challenge in the spring, possibly involving other regional universities, as well. This time, we will reach out to Public Policy, Psychology, and Environmental Sciences to continue building a collaborative team effort. We hope to raise awareness and increase involvement for faculty, staff, and students during the spring event. This would also provide a great opportunity for different classes related to environmental studies, sustainability, public policy, and psychology to participate.

Submitted by Rick Holt, Human Resources and Payroll