News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 31, 2009

Rose prof embraces technology to expand educational horizons

By Dale Long

TERRE HAUTE — There are no boundaries to Ed Doering’s passion for educating others on circuits, digital systems and electronic music synthesis.

That’s why the popular Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology electrical and computer engineering professor is available 24 hours a day to help others — people of all ages and professions from around the world — through more than 300 innovative educational tutorial videos online.

Doering’s modules are accessed by an average of 90 visitors each day, for a total of more than 36,000 viewers from 118 countries and territories since 2006. The educational materials have helped academically at-risk students and increased retention among these students.

“First and foremost, I am a teacher. The process of teaching is presenting material in a way that’s most easily understandable,” says Doering, a member of the Rose-Hulman faculty since 1994. “I enjoy making materials available to help others. This is a way for me to distribute information to a wide range of audiences in a way that’s always available to help people.”

Doering has hit on something with his Web-based content that’s organized by small modules that are easily connected into larger collections or courses. The modules are broadly available to students regardless of location or time of day and fits seamlessly into courses being taken by most engineering students nationwide.

CLEO (Circuits Learned by Example Online), a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation and developed with Rose-Hulman colleague Xiaoyan Mu, offers over 250 examples covering a two semester course sequence in engineering linear circuit analysis, including AC and DC circuits, phasors, transients, power and Laplace-based analysis. Each example has carefully scripted narrated video clips with handwriting and drawings appearing as if “by magic” (through TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio and SnagIt screen capture software) to emphasize expert explanations of the rationale behind the multi-step solution process. The audio commentary is directed to an audience of one, so that student feels that Doering is speaking directly to their particular need — as if sitting in a classroom at Rose-Hulman.

The student can also work examples in the repository before watching the video as a test of their own mastery, or they can watch the videos first for instruction in a new topic. The video format accommodates various styles and rates of student learning since students can interact with the material by pausing, replaying and skipping to points of interest as needed. The narration is available in English and Chinese, as well as closed-captioned text.

“It’s shocking to know that at any minute my voice is being heard in Shanghai [China], Manila [Philippines] or Santiago [Chile]. That’s what makes technology so fascinating,” Doering says. “I enjoy using new technology to reach out to students when they need it most.”

Doering’s latest work, “Musical Signal Processing with LabVIEW” sponsored by National Instruments and hosted on Rice University’s Connexions system, teaches signal processing through innovative use of LabVIEW VIs, screencast videos, familiar and engaging topics (music and audio), and modular organization and hosting on Connexions to encourage reuse. The online resource offers over 50 modules and more than 100 narrated videos based on a class taught annually by Doering at Rose-Hulman.

“I’m amazed at Ed Doering’s ability to craft and deliver the educational materials of the future through multimedia and the Web,” says Erik Luther, NI’s textbook program manager. “He brings signal processing concepts to life using music to introduce and reinforce concepts. Delivering carefully-tailored lessons using text, videos, simulations and exercises allows Ed to maximize student mastery of the material. Ed’s embrace of technology and the Web has allowed him to deliver this innovative curriculum to a worldwide audience beyond Rose-Hulman.”