Sunday, May 8, 2011

Double Dose of IRB and Usability. Payoff? Presentations

Obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for research projects is integral for institutions and researchers to maintain ethical inquiry. For my first class at CTU in the Doctorate of Computer Science (DCS) Program in Emerging Media, October 2010, I had CS820 Usability and Interaction with Dr. Anne Marie Armstrong. A requirement for the course was to perform a usability study.

Performing research in one's workplace is a risk that requires careful consideration. I had been working with staff several years to build a software application called Kogneato that we were trying to launch in tricky budget times. The project was not funded as part of a grant and we were building the application on a shoestring budget. We did not have assistance with technical writing nor documentation.

Since I work at a major university, I had to obtain IRB approval from both CTU and the University of Central Florida in order to involve faculty to test our system. My boss was supportive so I applied for approvals hoping to obtain approvals in time to complete the study by the end of the quarter.

 UCF's Kogneato Casual Gaming System, built with faculty involvement. Designed and developed by UCF's Ian Turgeon, Zach Berry and with the support of Dr. Francisca Yonekura (pictured below).  

My study was approved, the timing worked out, and best of all faculty involved in my test were very responsive to Kogneato. UCF's Psychology Department decided to adopt Kogneato for one of its funded research projects for course redesign addressing online labs, large classes, and the shortage of lab facilities. Their project is described in this article about online labs. Currently, we are seeking support to license Kogneato under an open source license to be able to attract more development in the tool.

Kogneato is not only being used for Psychology at UCF, it is also being used in several online courses and being developed for use in faculty development by my department, the Center for Distributed Learning. My colleague, Dr. Francisca Yonekura and I put in for call for proposals and were accepted to make  a presentation in June at the New Media Consortium's annual conference in Madison, WI.  Fortunately for us, the NMC event is taking place along with the 2011 Games, Learning, and Society Conference for which we were accepted to present as well.

It is not yet clear to me whether I can do my dissertation on the use the Kogneato, but it is possible. My direction seems oriented to the use of serious games in virtual worlds, but it may involve authentic assessment  and adaptive learning.

Last year, Dr, Yonekura and I presented at the annual New Media Conference on the topic of another software application we made at UCF and how it is being used for an accreditation initiative that involved information fluency. We are also seeking to open source that system called, Obojobo.

During the presentation, we did a live demo of the software and shared the slides we made on Prezi.  

We were honored to have in our presentation Christina Engelbart, the daughter of Douglas Engelbart, who is known for inventing the mouse and giving the mother of all demos. Christina now runs the Douglas Engelbart Institute.

I hope to align my doctoral research with my work activities so that inquiry stays real. In CS802 Qualitative Data Analysis, I did a paper on the topics of authentic leadership and competency management systems. Each activity sheds light on possible topics and research designs. Few things are as rewarding as working/studying with dedicated scholars and it is exciting to be able to share findings at national conferences.