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A. Ramnarine-Rieks, L. McKnight

Syracuse University (UNITED STATES)
Mechanisms for collaborative learning environments need to be devised to support peer-to-peer communication, in addition to human-computer communication, where human users and software agents coexist and interact. Wireless technology is resulting in escalating transformations of the educational world. The question is, how is wireless technologies affecting the learning environment and pedagogy? We propose the exploration of wireless grids technology to find possible solutions. Wireless grids is an emerging technology that enables ad hoc sharing of resources (such as screen, services and microphone) on edge devices (such as mobile Internet devices, laptops and mobile phones). The technology was initially conceived, architected, demonstrated and evaluated under a prior exploratory National Science Foundation (NSF), Partnership for Innovation (PFI) grant (0227879) and will serve as an integral component of the next paradigmatic wave of intention-based architectures, operating across mobile, nomadic and fixed devices and networks. Wireless Innovation Testbed (WiGiT) proposes to create the first international cognitive wireless grid research testbed, which will function through cyberinfrastructure as both a consortium and collaboratory.

In this paper we describe the pilot project that is presently being undertaken under the NSF PFI grant (# 0917973). It is an interdisciplinary Electrical Engineering and Information Management senior capstone course that will be taught jointly among Syracuse University, Virginia Tech and Tufts University. It is also possible that participation from Portugal’s Instituto Superior Tecnico, and a Portuguese next generation network testbed, may be integrated. Student will be taught how to use wireless grids to run a variety of applications. Therefore, students from each of the campuses will be able to remotely deploy experiments on the network at the other campus and be actively involved in designing their own personal wireless grid or “gridlet”. Much of the literature describes wireless technologies as a tool; they do not control learning, nor do students program them. This is where wireless grids is poised to include this missing dimension. That is, improving the process of interaction, negotiation and collaboration so that students have an active and constructive role in the learning process.

Our study is guided by research that focuses on the sociological implications of pervasive communication tools on many aspects of cyberlearning. We hypothesize that cyberlearning through wireless grids has the potential for supporting constructive learning by helping students find and organize information in context, construct their understandings, communicate those understandings to others and build and design applications together to meet their specific needs. The broader impact of this research is the potential of significantly improve the overall effectiveness of cyberinfrastructure as regards the ability of researchers and students to move much more easily across various levels of campus bridging: within the campus; from campus to national facilities; and across national boundaries to international collaborations. These activities will foster cross-fertilization of ideas as a result of bringing together diverse communities of practice.