Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Attending WIPTE 2009 at Virginia Tech

This past Monday and Tuesday WIPTE 2009 was held at Virginia Tech. I attended WIPTE last year, but only for one day and not the entire conference. Since Virginia Tech is 6 hours away from Louisville I ended up attending for both days. The conference was a lot of fun and there were a number of presentations that were related to the work I have been working on.

I co-authored a paper with Dr. Hieb and Dr. Lewis titled "Using Retrieved Panels from DyKnow for Large Classes." The purpose of the paper was to explain how the calculus classes at Speed School use DyKnow to collect the in class problems. An in class problem is essentially just a single page problem that all of the students complete. Typically it is something simple that is a new topic that is being introduced or a problem that was from the homework or previous test. The main point of the in class problem is attendance, but also encourages student's to use their Tablet PC and cover some of the material from class.

The trick is there are hundreds of students taking calculus every semester so it requires the processing of almost 1000 panels each week. The software that I wrote to automate this process was the main focus.

The presentation I gave at WIPTE went over very well. It covered a lot of the work that I have done since the paper was published. This was mainly the software that I have been developing called DyKnow Panel eXtractor. The software that I currently have published is able to sort a DyKnow file's slides by the name or user name associated with each panel. Another piece of software is the replacement that I am developing to replace the current version of the tool used to manage the in class problems. Lastly, I have a program that can open a DyKnow file and display the panels and also read in the names associated with panels.

The part of the presentation that was impressive is that someone in the audience download my software during the presentation, installed it, and used it successfully. This was really luck since the software is definitely still in alpha and under major development. Overall, lots of people were excited about the concept of developing applications that use DyKnow as a platform.

The other big thing that happened at the conference was the prize give aways. They gave away two HP Tablet PCs and two Fujitsu Tablet PCs. I ended up winning a Fujitsu T5010 Tablet PC when my name was drawn from everyone who filled out the final evaluation for the conference. There were probably 100 people that were in the drawing so I was very lucky to win the Tablet.

They are shipping the tablet now, but I will not have it until next weekend. The main reason I am excited about getting it is because it has support for duo-touch and can run Microsoft Surface applications. I will be looking into developing something that uses the touch features of Windows 7. After I get it I will post some type of review.

Considering that the NAESC Southeast regional conference was immediately before the WIPTE conference, this was a very crazy fall break for me.


Unknown said...

You provided lots of information and sited the reasons for both the pros and cons to each Tablet. Very informative.

Unknown said...

It's refreshing to see someone releasing code related to DyKnow. In my opinion, for academic tablet computing to truly succeed, there needs to be a more active community of programmers around it, able to port clients to modern, highly mobile devices, and integrate the server side better with existing course systems, such as the increasingly popular and hackable Sakai (Virginia Tech brands theirs as Scholar).

The tablet requirement at Virginia Tech integrates DyKnow as a core component, and the because of this exposure to the software, Linux and Unix Users Group at Virginia Tech has been wanting cross-platform support for some time. Numerous ARM-based highly mobile devices will be disenfranchised until a Linux client is written. Hopefully we can start up development in earnest in the near future. Our wiki has a page compiling all of our DyKnow information if anyone is interested.

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