Course Topics - Machines
What are some of the changes happening in your discipline that you find particularly interesting?
It seems like just the other day I was interning at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in their design department, but that was over 45 years ago. It was then I was fortunate to see a new machine, a mainframe computer the size of a house that was developed and built to assist designers and draftspersons to perform technical drawing. That was a huge WOW for me! Up to that time we had all used pencils (varied by specifications of density) and paper to produce our technical drawings.
Fast forward to 2013…I now have a computer in my front pocket that is more powerful than the huge mainframe that was used to draw the lines and circles on the Lockheed mainframe. That computer in my pocket is also a digital camera (still and movie), provides multiple email channels, is IM capable, fully Internet capable, plays my entire music collection, runs apps of all kinds, has voice navigation, has voice input (Siri) and output, a calendar integrated with four different email boxes (Outlook, Exchange, Google, and Live).
What will you focus on with the students?
This section is titled: “From smart phones to Jeopardy champions: Is this the age of smart machines?” My intention for presenting this topic as a question is to present machine operations that were previously believed to be the sole domain of the human brain in the current context of 21st century machine operations. A major part of this section is intended to have the students ask themselves the question is: are these devices a “smart” phone or is this just a contemporary marketing strategy? I do not want the students to be too quick to answer that question.
For some of the students this is going to be “old news,” yet for others, taking the time to study “IBM’s Watson,” “smartphones,” and a myriad of other machines, and people’s thoughts on these machines by people who have the audacity to call a machine “smart.” I find this very interesting and I hope that the students in University 222 will find it interesting enough to give the questions you are asked in this section…serious thought.
What do you want them to learn about your field?
My priority and hope for what you will gain from this portion of the course is that you have given thought to the following topics:
- What are the Characteristics of Thinking?
- What does it mean to be “smart?”
- What makes a machine smart?
- Can a machine be “smart?”
- To the extent possible during the two weeks of this session, make what you believe are the connections between “human thinking” and “smart machines.”
- Determine (in your opinion) whether “IBM’s Watson” is a smart machine. Be able to defend your opinion.
- What allowed “Watson” to become a Jeopardy champion?
- Identify the moral and ethical issues that you believe are important in the future of “smart machines.”
- Identify a minimum of three ways that the technological changes in the 21st century are effecting human communications.
On Pedagogy and Collaboration
University 222 presents many opportunities for the campus, faculty, and students, from the GMC venue to the class size, from your collaboration as deans to the subject matter itself.
Given all of the above, what pedagogies will you employ to engage students and achieve your learning objectives?
This section was developed using a pedagogical teaching approach called “inquiry-based learning” which simply means; following your assigned readings and videos, you will be asked a number of questions about the topics. The underlying purpose is to provide a way for you to begin asking yourself questions about the topic and your thoughts regarding the topics.
An old adage states: "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand." The last part of this statement is the essence of inquiry-based learning. Inquiry implies involvement that leads to understanding. Furthermore, involvement in learning implies possessing skills and attitudes that permit the students to seek resolutions to questions and issues while students construct new knowledge. That is the idea or process used by IBM’s Watson to partially build "its" knowledge base.
The hard part of using inquiry based leaning as a pedagogy and subsequent methodology is that I (the instructor) am more interested in the student’s answers to the questions and not the authors'. In some cases, the students will simply be asked to memorize the answers given by the assigned authors who the students will be reading or listening to. The quizzes will be the equivalent of open-book tests. The quizzes will be made available to the students for a specified period of time during the courses.
Now here is an interesting twist. The tests are open book, and as many of the students as you wish may work together to take the quizzes. Call this teaming, collaborative learning, or simply call it cheating, this is not my priority.
What’s it like teaching to 750 students?
This section of the course will be entirely online using Moodle (SSU’s online learning management system). During the two weeks of this section the students will NOT attend classes in Weill Hall. In fact, students may work on this course in their pajamas and slippers in their dorm or apartment.
That is the very essence of this section’s content and a completely contemporary means to making the learning experience individualized. During these two weeks students are going to need to be self-motivated, motivated by a friend also taking the class, or motivated to get a good grade. Students will NOT be graded on being seated in Weill Hall. Attendance for this section will be established by when students logged into this section of the class, and how long the student spent reading or viewing the required videos. Students can work on this section of the course anytime and anywhere you have an Internet connection.
Working with classmates to complete the quizzes will be considered positive interaction and not cheating. What each student learns from this "section" of the course will be up to each individual student. If a student finds this topic of interest…I hope they will give it the thought "I believe" it deserves.
Students will have a number of assigned readings and viewings (YouTube videos) to study. Students can read and view these "assignments" at any time during this course. Everything except the quizzes will be available to each student when the section begins.
There will also be forums intended to provide support for discussions about this section's topics. The instructor will periodically review the forum to see what is being posted and how well (or not so well) students are engaging in online "talk" about this section's topics.