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Software to enhance online education, collaborations


September 10, 2008

Research to improve software technologies for online education and long-distance research collaboration will be supported by a $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant for the third phase of a project led by Andreas Spanias, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Spanias’ team is working on designing computer software geared to online education programs, including enabling distance learners to participate in laboratory classes over the Internet. The software also will be adapted to help researchers in different locations work together more effectively over the Internet.

Java Digital Signal Processing (J-DSP) software will aid instruction and lab work for online courses and research in earth sciences, engineering, multimedia technology, computer-generated music, electrical power systems, and genomics, among other areas.

The goal, Spanias says, is for the J-DSP software to provide “a graphical interface that is user-friendly, freely accessible and capable of supporting multidisciplinary research and education applications. You would need only a Web browser to use it.” 

The ASU research team also includes Harvey Thornburgh and Ellen Campana, both assistant professors in the Arts, Media and Engineering program, and Stephen Goodnick, ASU’s associate vice president of research, a well as Department of Electrical Engineering faculty members, including associate researcher Susan Haag, research technologist Cristophe Legendre, associate professors Raja Ayyanar and Martin Reisslein, and professors Marco Saraniti, Antonia Papandreou-Suppappola, Cihan Tepedelenlioglu and Trevor Thornton.

ASU is the lead university on the third phase of this project, with three other university partners and three additional test sites. The ASU Java-DSP lab was allotted more than $1 million from this collaborative grant to develop algorithms and software for J-DSP.

Partner universities, which will test the new software in online courses and research, are Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington-Bothell, and Prairie View A&M in Texas. Additional test sites are the University of New Mexico, the University of Cyprus and the Rose-Hullman Institute of Technology in Indiana.

As part of research supported by a National Science Foundation grant for the second phase of the project, J-DSP is already being used to support online laboratories at ASU, the University of Central Florida, the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Rhode Island. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently asked ASU for permission to use the technology in their bioengineering online courses.

Spanias also is the director of the SenSip (Sensor Signal and Information Processing) a university-industry consortium developing signal and information processing capabilities for next-generation technologies for sensing applications in biomedicine, defense, homeland security, environmental sustainability, interactive media, wireless communications and vehicular systems.