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 242011

As a geography instructor, I have in the recent past witnessed a great deal of change in the increased use of technology, which affects students’ learning and building their spatial thinking. I strongly believe that exposing students to contemporary geographical tools is a must. I feel that it is my responsibility and duty to better prepare them to enter the professional world where, sooner than later, they will encounter a need for geographic information systems (GIS). During the fall 2010 semester, I tried my best to bring an awareness of GIS to the nongeographers enrolled in my 300-level regional study course of the United States. This course is open to students coming from different backgrounds, such as history, finance, and global affairs. Although these students expected a classical style lecture, mandatory GIS lab sessions were included in the syllabus. Through supervised and accessible exercises the nongeographers have been exposed to a deeper and more contemporary learning tool, and more important, I got their full participation and generated a genuine interest.

Submitted by Patricia Boudinot, instructor, Geography and Geoinformation Science

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Feb 242011

Leslie Morton has been teaching the art of civility for nearly 30 years and had a vision for it to be included in a collegiate curriculum. While serving as an internship supervisor in the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism, Morton developed a civility curriculum and now teaches a new and innovative course known as Professionalism and Civility. It is the first of its kind to be offered in any American accredited university or college in the country. TOUR 110 is a one-hour elective available to all Mason students. The class made its debut in fall 2010, only weeks after the curriculum was accepted, with 17 Mason students in attendance. Because of its popularity, the course has now doubled in size and availability for spring 2011, and Morton has become a highly sought-after speaker in the public and private sectors. The course focuses on areas of personal civility in a variety of settings. Areas of study include peacekeeping skills, tolerance, proper protocol, bullying issues, inclusion, productive communication, personal manners, and business etiquette. Morton also reinforces positive life skills that promote good working relationships, as well as respectful and sincere behaviors that encourage acceptance and serve to enhance productive and distinctive living.

Submitted by Leslie Morton, adjunct instructor, School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism, College of Education and Human Development

 Posted by at 4:07 pm
Feb 242011

The College of Health and Human Services founded the first and only academic program in the nation dedicated to the rapidly growing assisted living and senior housing industry and the housing and care needs of a worldwide aging population. The program has been nationally and internationally recognized for its innovations and has involved more than 300 students in graduate and undergraduate course work since its inception in 2002.

Its first-in-kind innovations include the following:
• First national and international internships in assisted living and senior housing, with more than 70 students completing internships in industry-leading assisted living, Alzheimer’s care, and continuing care retirement communities in the United States and the United Kingdom.
• Unique nationally recognized hospitality services internships in partnership with Walt Disney World Resorts.
• Established first-in-nation master’s degree in senior housing administration in 2009.
• Created and defined terminology for a new category of senior housing—“university-based retirement communities”—and technology for seniors—“Nana technology”—both of which have received national and international recognition.

Program-related work has been featured in national and industry media, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, U.S.News & World Report, USA Today, and affiliates of Fox News, CBS Radio, and NPR, among others. The program has been featured internationally by Agence France-Presse, Kyodo News International, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, among others.

Submitted by Andrew Carle, assistant professor, College of Health and Human Services

 Posted by at 3:40 pm
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

Aug 302010

By and large, most lawyers end up specializing in one specific area of law, though very few American law schools prepare students for this fact of professional life. That is, of course, except for Mason’s School of Law.

The School of Law has set itself apart by offering areas of specialization to its students. Dean Emeritus Henry Manne compares this practice to the world of modern medicine, in which doctors are trained for specialized fields instead of the general practitioners of yore.

While the school’s initial specialization concentrated on economics, students can now choose from tracks in intellectual property and homeland and national security law. Economics has retained a major emphasis, however, because the law school’s curriculum integrates economic and quantitative tools throughout its required courses. Approximately one-third of full-time faculty members hold degrees in economics in addition to a juris doctor.

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 Posted by at 12:38 pm
Aug 302010

Computational social science is an emerging field, and Mason has taken a leadership role in the new science nationally and internationally. Scholars from around the world have already visited Mason’s Center for Social Complexity, which serves as a model for a number of international groups that are trying to start similar centers.

Established in 2002, the center aims to advance pure and applied social science using computational and interdisciplinary approaches that can yield new insights into the fundamental nature of social phenomena at all levels.

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 Posted by at 11:22 am