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2021 DELTA Awards

In its fourth year, DELTA provided funding for six projects, which were selected from a competitive field of 15 proposals. Each of the funded projects will deploy innovative uses of digital technology to enhance the university’s teaching and learning enterprise for a wide variety of populations, including Johns Hopkins graduates, undergraduates, faculty, patients, and the general public.

A Platform for Remote Delivery of Hands-On Imaging Laboratories

Principal Investigators: Grace Jianan Gang, Whiting School of Engineering, and Joseph Webster Stayman, School of Medicine

The experience associated with project-based classes in physical laboratories and with hands-on experimentation, where students are actively modeling, designing, and constructing devices is both important and highly desired by students, industry recruiters, and graduate admissions committees. The challenge of providing such experiences remotely goes beyond recent current events and quarantines, and extends to outreach programs (e.g., for underserved and remote communities) and online programs including Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals (EP).

In the past year, we have focused efforts on developing an online platform for the class: 580.494 Build-an-Imager aimed at providing students with an interactive, hands-on experience even during remote instruction. While this was done on a shoestring budget using 3D printed gears, inexpensive servo motors, and electronic boards, we managed to translate most of the aspects of hands-on experimentation (ordinarily completed in an in-person setting) to an online version where students directly control and explore various aspects of an imaging device. Based on student surveys and course evaluations, students found the courses interactive and engaging, with many noting the remote robotic controls as “best part of the course”.

Through Build-an-Imager, we have gained valuable experience and student feedback on how to provide a hands-on, interactive experience for online education. The students not only offered positive comments but also constructive suggestions for improvement. We have identified many areas where the initial platform can be improved in terms of robustness and user-friendliness. We plan to further develop the remote delivery platform for Build- an-Imager, both as a standalone online course and as a component for the in-person version of the course to enrich students’ learning experience. At the same time, we believe this centralized course delivery platform has high potential to be generalized and scaled to other courses and programs. In this proposal, we will use the infrastructure already in-place for Build-an-Imager as a foundation to develop a centralized remote delivery plat- form for hands-on laboratories. We will implement the platform for a series of three project-based BME imaging courses. Beyond the immediate scope of the proposal, we believe the platform developed can benefit a number of courses within BME, offer a novel format for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and enable wider out- reach within underserved communities.

Development and Evaluation of Open-Access Educational Media for Medical Trainees Studying MRI Physics

Principal Investigators: Erin Gomez and Jeff Day, School of Medicine, and Christopher Devers, School of Education

MRI physics is a notoriously challenging subject for radiology residents to master, and comprises a significant portion of the American Board of Radiology CORE exam, which must be passed in order to achieve board certification. Despite established needs for increased quality and quantity of radiology physics resources, there is little information regarding the most effective method of engaging learners and delivering this content. Moreover, currently available educational materials often must be accessed via subscriptions or formal review courses, which may require significant financial contributions on the part of the learner. Based on the results of a needs assessment survey distributed during the 2020-2021 academic year, we plan to create and assess different methods of media presentation illustrating the fundamentals of MRI physics to determine which delivery method is most helpful for residents preparing for the CORE exam. Results of the needs assessment as well as the follow-up study will then be used to create a second educational module that will build upon the concepts presented in the initial media. The educational resources created will be incorporated into a virtual radiology curriculum being led by Johns Hopkins faculty and hosted on a publicly- accessible online platform available to medical students and residents everywhere. The results of this project will inform the creation of an open-access digital library of MRI physics educational resources.

High-Fidelity, Low-Latency, Networked Collaboration for Applied Music and Dance Education

Principal Investigators: Scott Metcalfe and Theron Feist, Peabody Institute

Conservatories of music have been slow to adopt digital technologies that are potentially transformative to their traditional 19th century approach to applied music instruction. Technological tools that take advantage of increasing network and Internet connectivity speeds have the potential to radically change how music and dance teaching take place at the conservatory and beyond. Our proposed project will explore and expand the use of low latency collaboration tools for teaching applied music and dance over both the Internet2 high speed research network and the commodity broadband Internet.

The Peabody Institute has a unique opportunity to leverage high speed networks such as Internet2 to build and strengthen inter-institutional partnerships. We plan to leverage this existing infrastructure to grow inter-institutional partnerships to support networked teaching and performance at latencies low enough to allow practicing, rehearsing, and performing together over wide geographic locations and enable co-creation of new artistic works – dance and music – created specifically for high-speed networks.

In addition, there is an opportunity to radically transform music and dance collaboration at the individual and small group level by utilize readily available consumer grade network audio (CGNA) tools that work across the commodity Internet. The proposed project will allow the team to identify which tools work best for which artistic scenarios, run tests, provide recommendations and examples, and create easy to use “kits” for our students and faculty who participate remotely in lessons, ensembles, and artistic co-creation.

This work will lead to: (1) An expansion and enhancement of current pedagogical practices for applied music and dance; (2) The creation and performance of new, original artistic dance and music works co-created with remote partners specifically for performance over high-speed networks; (3) Increased job readiness for student participants who will develop new skills to support arts in the 21st century; (4) Enhanced support for newly forming online and hybrid degree programs in applied music and dance.

JHU Online Excellence: A Multi-Pronged Approach to Prepare Faculty for Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning

Principal Investigators: Olysha Magruder and Paul Huckett, Whiting School of Engineering, James Diamond, School of Education, and Mike Reese, Sheridan Libraries

This cross-divisional effort will bring together teaching and learning centers and faculty across Johns Hopkins University to create three pathways to learn best practices in online teaching and learning. The three pathways include: 1) a JHU- specific certificate program focused on excellence in online teaching and learning; 2) a Massive Open, Online Course (MOOC); and 3) a JHU conference showcasing faculty, staff, and participants who demonstrate excellence in online teaching.

The goal of this innovation is to 1) train faculty to teach online to improve student learning outcomes, 2) support divisional faculty development offerings, and 3) showcase excellence in online teaching at JHU. The target audience includes Johns Hopkins faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and staff who teach online and instructors and instructional support staff outside of Johns Hopkins.

Quest2Learn: A Gamification and Augmented Reality Approach to Advance Education

Principal Investigators: Eric Johnson and Jamie Young, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Scott Zeger, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Spatial awareness and tactile-based learning are important components of a student’s success in science education. Consequently, the pandemic has highlighted the lack of existing solutions for training physical lab learning skills outside the laboratory setting, which can be a major detriment to student learning.

Our proposed solution is to use Augmented Reality to improve undergraduate laboratory education through the development of an interactive application called Quest2Learn. We propose to develop nine robust laboratory modules to be implemented in the Biochemistry laboratory course, based on the groundwork laid by our beta micropipette lab module, which we presented at the DELTA Symposium this year. These lab modules will be designed for longitudinal use in the Biochemistry Lab Course moving forward, and many of the technical lab modules, like micropipetting, can be repurposed for other lab courses such as the Introductory Biology Lab.

Our multidisciplinary team is cross-divisional and cross-departmental, including faculty members from both the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences and Whiting School of Engineering, as well as Computer science students and Biomedical Engineering students. Not only will our Quest2Learn application benefit remote learning of lab sciences, but it can also improve the pre-lab learning and post-lab review of in-person lab sessions. By building a smartphone-based application that is accessible on both iOS and Android devices, we hope to improve both the in-person and online lab learning experiences for students coming from different backgrounds and communities. We have been grateful to share our current progress at the 2021 DELTA symposium with the wider JHU community, and have received positive feedback and suggestions for areas of improvement which we have adopted. Additionally, we have been contacted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who are interested in collaborating and implementing modules for use in their Chemistry department. We envision that there will be numerous opportunities for collaborations across multiple disciplines and institutions, which would provide students with great learning opportunities and further JHU’s diversity roadmap initiatives.

Two-Eyed Seeing: An Integrative Sciences Approach to Hybrid Learning Within Indigenous Health Courses at Hopkins

Principal Investigator: Allison Barlow, Bloomberg School of Public Health

Etuaptmumk (translated in English as ‘Two-eyed seeing’) was first described by the Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall in 2004 as a metaphor for combining the best of both Western and Indigenous knowledges and approaches for the benefit of all. Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (JHCAIH) offers semi-annual Public Health courses at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (JHSBH) that employ this concept, teaching core Public Health concepts through an Indigenous Lens. Following the COVID-19 pandemic and a shift to remote virtual classes over the past year, JHCAIH seeks to pilot a hybrid course that further integrates traditional Western education with Indigenous knowledges and experiences. Students (particularly Indigenous students) learning from a distance will benefit from greater access to cutting-edge science education and students learning in person will benefit from the diverse variety of distance learners’ lived experiences. Ultimately our project will: 1) Develop innovative hybrid Institute courses featuring engaging and culturally tailored coursework as well as peer and faculty collaboration, and 2) Promote diversity among JHU’s student body. Despite contemporary challenges to hybrid learning2, virtual classrooms allow Indigenous students to maintain their connections to land and community while simultaneously pursuing public health and nursing training. It also allows them to bring their tribally diverse perspectives and knowledge to the university setting, enriching educational opportunities for the benefit of all.


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