RDE-FRI: The CUbiC CAReS Note-Taker: Enabling students who are legally blind to take notes in class

Project: Research project

Description

An REU supplement is sought to the currently funded Note-Taker research project, which involves collaboration between the CUbiC Human-Centered Research Lab, the School of Industrial Design, and the Disability Resource Center at Arizona State University (ASU). The chosen undergraduates will be involved as project team members in the Note-Taker project and, like all other students involved with the project, they will be assigned cubicle space in the CUbiC lab, and will participate in weekly meetings of the project team. The students will have an opportunity to conduct independent research under the supervision of the PI, and will meet weekly with the PI to discuss their progress. It is expected that the students will coauthor papers and conference presentations with the other members of the team. The tasks we propose for the two students are challenging and instructive. They will increase their research skills, and will raise their awareness of the importance of human-centered design.

Description

Note-taking during classroom instruction has been shown to improve retention. However, legally blind students routinely encounter problems when attempting to take notes in class. This difficulty with notetaking is a particularly serious problem in fast-paced STEM courses. Students who are legally blind might be able to write by placing their head close to the writing surface, and they might be able to use a monocular to see what is being written on a board in the front of the classroom. However, monoculars with high magnification narrow the students field of view, and this forces the student to hunt for the target in the front of the classroom each time he/she looks up from the writing surface. The repeated delay in switching between the writing surface to the board can make it difficult to keep up with a fastpaced lecture. A better solution is needed one that allows these students to shift their attention between the writing surface and the class presentation, without this inefficient context switching. We propose to develop and evaluate a portable Note-Taker device that does not require any adaptation of the existing classroom infrastructure. This device employs a Tablet PC, a zooming video camera, and an electronic pan/tilt mechanism, which can all be easily carried in a backpack, and set up in a few seconds on any classroom desk. On the display surface of a Tablet PC the user is able to (1) see a zoomed video of the lecturers presentation at the front of the classroom in real time, and (2) take notes with digital ink. The student can adjust the cameras aim at any time by simply tapping on the point of interest in the video window on the display surface of the Tablet PC This proposed Note-Taker is aimed at going beyond the traditional goal of simply providing accessibility. Our aim is to provide a note-taking device that allows legally blind students to take notes as efficiently as fully sighted students, with the ultimate goal of allowing them to more successfully pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees particularly in STEM fields. The development and evaluation of the proposed Note-Taker prototypes will be done with the full involvement of legally blind and low vision students on the campus of Arizona State University (ASU). The Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Systems (CUbiC CAReS) at ASU, which will support this project, currently hosts two legally blind undergraduate students, who interact with CUbiC researchers on a daily basis. Both students are pursuing a degree in Computer Science, and one of these students is simultaneously pursuing a degree in Mathematics. These students, as well as 15 other legally blind and low vision students on the ASU campus, will use Note-Taker prototypes in their classrooms, and will provide CUbiC CAReS researchers with feedback about the benefits and problems with their use of the Note-Taker on a day-to-day basis. Intellectual Merit: Although the benefits of note-taking in the classroom are widely recognized, there has not been enough research focused on the difficulties encountered by legally blind and low vision students, in their attempts to take notes. In the process of developing and evaluating the proposed Note- Taker device, we expect to discover most of those difficulties, and to find solutions to those problems. We hypothesize that the proposed Note-Taking device will improve the learning of students who employ it in their secondary or post-secondary classrooms to take notes during lectures, and that it will also help those students who review their own notes at a later time, in conjunction with cross-referenced audio and video recordings. Broader Impact: Difficulties in note-taking are not limited to students with low vision. For example, students with learning disabilities often have difficulty taking notes in the classroom at the pace at which the material is presented especially
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/1/098/31/13

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $450,439.00

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student
classroom
PC
video
video recording
learning disability
computer science
supplement
supervision
research project
university teacher
disability
graduate
mathematics
electronics
infrastructure
instruction
evaluation
resources
school