Friday, March 20, 2009

FAMU Awarded Grant to Further Strengthen STEM Programs

The United States Department of Education has awarded the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Department of Computer and Information Sciences (CIS) a grant under the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP).

The project titled, “MSEIP: The FAMU Multimedia Learning Resource Management System (FAMLEARNS) for STEM Instructional Enhancement,” is potentially a three-year $468,000 award. The FAMLEARNS project will use existing and emerging computer technology to produce multimedia-based instructional materials called Captured Learning Resources (CLRs).

“During this period of severe budget reductions, and with possible increases in class sizes, this project will provide FAMU students additional learning resources that are accessible at any time, from any place,” said Edward L. Jones, Ph.D., project principal investigator of the project.

Students access CLRs over the Internet as streaming video. Similar technology is being used successfully at universities such as University of Michigan, Duke and North Carolina Central Universities. A CLR can be a recorded lecture or a supplemental resource that reinforces key or difficult concepts. The technology permits the capture of tutoring sessions, in-class demonstrations, mathematical proofs, laboratory procedures, or training in the use of computer applications.

The goals of FAMLEARNS are to improve student learning and performance in critical and difficult formative STEM courses, and to stimulate the adoption of educational technology by STEM faculty. Expected student outcomes include lower failure rates in the formative courses, higher retention in the STEM majors, and improved progression through STEM majors. Expected faculty outcomes include increased adoption of educational technology and educational innovation. These outcomes are consistent with the university’s strategic initiative to increase the use of educational technology that is capable of supporting diversity in instructional delivery.

The CIS Department will extend this work in three ways:

  • By supporting authoring on the fly, where any learning situation (e.g., answering a student’s question) can be recorded without elaborate set up;
  • By developing software to make the system easy to use, such as content indexing and searching, and automated upload into the university Blackboard system; and
  • By providing a formal help desk for all users of the system.

During the three years of the project, the team will develop the infrastructure required to institutionalize the use of this technology starting in the CIS department and migrating to selected STEM departments.

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