Creating an Educational Tool for Computer Science Students
Masters Project Defense
Ben Stroud
Ben Stroud
Masters Project Defense
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Project Goal
Introduction
Need Addressed
Technologies Used
Related Work
Lessons Learned
Challenges
Mistakes
Demonstration of Application
Future Work
Deliverables
Summary
Questions
Ben Stroud
Masters Project Defense
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Create a tool to educate students about
Wireless Sensor Networks
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Intuitive and Approachable GUI
Interactive Scenarios
Easy to Install
Effective Demonstration of Wireless Sensor Network
Deployment, Formation, and Execution
Quantifiable Results
Understand Effect of Software in Education
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Masters Project Defense
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Definition of a Wireless Sensor Network
◦ Similar to Ad-hoc networks
◦ Unique Challenges
 Node “Death”
 Conservation of Power
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Project goal is to educate, not evaluate
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Masters Project Defense
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Educators Want to Impart Key Lessons from WSNs
How to Do This in an Interesting and Dynamic Way?
Software!
◦ Interactive
◦ Engaging
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Existing Simulators Geared for Research/Development
◦ Intimidating
◦ Cumbersome
◦ Difficult to Install/Interact With
Ben Stroud
Masters Project Defense
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Silverlight
◦ Multiplatform application framework
◦ Allows for interactive multimedia and animations on
the front end
◦ Powerful traditional application or web oriented
backend.
◦ Designed primarily for web based applications;
◦ Similar to Flash
◦ Created by Microsoft
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.NET
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Masters Project Defense
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Silverlight
◦ Backend: .NET (C#) –
 Object Oriented.
 Somewhere between C++ and Java – Makes creating
applications for the web easy and increases the reusability of
code.
 Don’t have access to the complete C# codebase
 Sliverlight limits the developer to a subset of libraries
 Application is isolated from the OS
 Debugging capability in Visual Studios 2010 is lacking
◦ Front-End: Silverlight and WFC controls
 Traditional web technologies (Javascript, XML, HTML) wrap new
Silverlight controls – based on older WFC technology
 Fast Execution, but comber-some development
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Masters Project Defense
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IDEs
◦ Silverlight 4 – Visual Studios 2010, Visual Web
Developer 2008, MS Expression Blend
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Coding
◦ Languages – any .NET or Dynamic (Ruby, Python
etc) language, HTML, JS and more
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Deployment
◦ Upload XAP (executable) Plus Support Files to
Web Server.
◦ Client Side Execution
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Masters Project Defense
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Performance
◦ Back-End Computing
 Calculating Prime Numbers (1000000)
 Flash –1.259 seconds
 Silverlight - 0.564 seconds
◦ Front End Animation
 Displaying 50 Rotating Images
 Flash – 64 fps 60% CPU
 Silverlight – 100 fps 45% CPU
 Took 80 images to get to 64fps
◦ For More Comparisons See Paper
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Masters Project Defense
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Implementation on More Platforms (Linux,
Android, Windows Mobile, ect)
Hardware Accelerated 3D Support
64-bit support
More Advanced Networking Capability
Better use of Dynamic Objects
More Generic, Less Silverlight Targeted Code
◦ Combine WPF and Silverlight Programming Models
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Masters Project Defense
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Better Integration with Visual Studios
Better Debugging Capabilities
Include all C# libraries
More intuitive links between controls and code
More access to the client operating system
Make Deployment Application Behavior Exactly
Like Development Behavior
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Masters Project Defense
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Comparative Study of Wireless Network Simulators
◦ Lessmann J. et al., 2008.
◦ Survey of Existing Wireless Network Simulators
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Sensor Network Component Based Simulator
◦ Chen, G., Szymanski B., 2007.
◦ Compiled Research Oriented Simulator
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JavaSim
◦ Java Based Generic Network Simulator
◦ Not tailored for WSNs
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Current UCCS Wireless Network Simulator
◦ Static – not Interactive
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Masters Project Defense
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Mixed Findings
Meta Study by University of Michigan
◦ Analyzed 254 studies
◦ Shows that Computer Aided Learning usually
Increases Test Scores
◦ Increase from 50th to 62nd Percentile
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Study by DoE
◦ More Recent
◦ Analyzed
◦ Only Found One
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Masters Project
Defense
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Masters Project Defense
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Deeper WSN understanding
Limitations of Discovery Learning
 Must be paired with instruction
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Lack of Student Participation
Technology
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Debugging
Creating Multi-Page Application
Linking Front End Code to Backend
Learning New Language
Lack of Full C# codebase Support
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Masters Project Defense
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Discovery Learning
◦ Little to no instructor lead activities
◦ Student explores independently
◦ Advocates claim deeper understanding and higher level
of engagement
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Exclusive Discovery Learning has been shown in
some studies to be less effective than traditional
learning
Blending Discovery Learning with traditional
learning has been shown to yield the best results.
This is the recommended approach when using
this software as a teaching aid
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Masters Project Defense
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Learning new languages/technologies
◦ Lots of research
◦ Trial and error
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Creating a reusable framework (Application Design)
◦ Well thought out OO approach
◦ Meaningful Objects and Lots of Documentation
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Understanding relationship between education and
software
Creating a meaningful assessment tool based on
educational research
◦ Research – Bloom’s Taxonomy
◦ Unable to integrate into the Application
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Masters Project Defense
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Assuming Creating Web Applications using
Silverlight would be Similar to Creating Other
Windows Applications
Not Enough Up-Front Focus on Educational
Research
Assuming Classmates Would be More
Responsive
Not Enough Focus on Early, Detailed Software
Architectural Design
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Masters Project Defense
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URL
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Masters Project Defense
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More Algorithms
More realistic/complex simulations
◦ 3d terrain
◦ Obstacles/Objects (Weighted lines)
◦ GPS capability
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Lesson Plan to Include Application in Course
Integrate Survey with Application
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Masters Project Defense
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Proposal
◦ Document and Presentation
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Software Requirements Specification
Design Documentation
User Documentation
Software
◦ Source Code and Deployable Web Components
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Survey
Defense Presentation
Final Project Document
Presentation Viewgraphs
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Masters Project Defense
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Created an Educational Tool
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Helps Students Learn about WSNs
Easy to Use
Current Technology
Extensible
Explored How to Evaluate Educational Techniques
Explored Effectiveness of Software in Education
Explored Best Practices for Utilizing Discovery
Learning
Identified Additional Work to be Done
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Masters Project Defense
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Questions?
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Masters Project Defense
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