Learning Technologies: WebTeam (demo)

WebTeam Technology

WebTeam is a multimedia networking technology that allows easy communication between Interactive Learning Modules (consisting of Director/Shockwave movies) playing on different computers that are connected via the Internet. WebTeam was developed to extend the successful “studio” classroom model of student-to-student cooperation to a distributed, virtual classroom of distance learning students. It is a generic tool that allows a developer to create modules that can be collaboratively used by synchronous student teams to solve problems. The problems are designed such that the actions and results of each component affect the other. Both parts function individually, yet in conjunction with the other, forming a broader solution. The students can also communicate directly with each other via a live chat window about the problem at hand—or anything else.

WebTeam

WebTeam Utilization

Scribe/Bard has been used by an instructor to accomplish the following projects described below:

Library of Maps

WebTeam was most recently used on April 12, 2002 as part of the “Children’s Drawing Project.” (http://www.academy.rpi.edu/projects/libraryofmaps/) This project brought together K-12 students at The Ark Community Charter School, in Troy, NY and students at Mills College Campus School in California to make collaborative drawings as part of a project called the Library of Maps. A children’s collaborative drawing module was developed, allowing 2 or more students at remote locations to create drawings together in real-time, and discuss them as well. A second technology was also set-up, incorporating live Video chat using Webcams, so the students in each location could see who they were collaborating with, and communicate directly. The technologies, working together, produced an extremely lively and magical session with the children on both sides. The children drew with a variety of input devices: touchpad, drawing pen and pad, and mouse, moving fluidly from one tool to the other. The interface, featuring an artist’s palette, was intuitive, and took little instruction beyond showing them how to join a group, and how to save their files. They moved back and forth between communicating their comments using the keyboard, and creating drawings. They were also full of questions about the WebTeam technology, and how the electronic music had been made.

Library of Maps

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Hidden Curve Module

Rensselaer’s Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) incorporated the WebTeam functionality into their interactive Hidden Curve module. The module addresses properties of a mathematical function as determined by examination with a set of virtual tools. In the WebTeam version of the playspace, two participants create a student-student or a student-teacher relationship. The first participant selects a function to be examined and remotely observes the actions of the second participant. Some of the WebTeam components that were programmed into the module included: simultaneous chat windows for participant communication, pencil tool that would allow either user to draw on the function axes such that the drawing was visible by both participants, and a "ping" tool that would allow either user to call attention to a particular location on the user interface by displaying a flashing circle at the cursor location when the right mouse button is clicked (helpful to point out virtual tools or interesting points of functions being examined). A test version was run between a student in Hawaii and a student at Rensselaer, demonstrating the viability of the WebTeam technology over long distances and with a slow network connection.

Hidden Curve Module

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Band Pass Filters

A band-pass filter problem set offered a good proof-of-concept topic for the WebTeam technology. In the first section, one student (e.g. from Rensselaer) designs a low-pass filter while another student (e.g. from UT Dallas) designs a high-pass filter using the Filters CAD module (shown below). Both students work independently of each other so each student is responsible for his or her own design. The second section combines their designs and has each student responsible for his/her portion of the combined circuit. The low-pass and high-pass filters from the first section are connected in series to effect a band-pass characteristic, demonstrating the problems with loading (input and output), thus providing the motivation to investigate the advantages of utilizing an active filter. Each student is allowed to continue to modify their own passive filter, but may not modify the other student's circuit – building teamwork skills. The final section allows the students to cooperatively design an active band-pass filter using the Op-Amps CAD module engine. WebTeam offers real-time communication between the students' screens, where they each see instantaneous updates of the other student’s actions. Chat windows allow students to further communicate throughout the entire module processes, encouraging teamwork and giving students the opportunity to "teach" each other.

Filters CAD

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Glide Visual Language Project

Another implementation of WebTeam technology, the Glide visual language Collabyrinth, can be viewed at http://www.academy.rpi.edu/glide/apps/collabyrinth.html. The Collabyrinth allows multiple users to construct, animate, interpret, and discuss Glide language “mazes.”

Glide

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