Jul 30
Atlanta, GA

Join the staff of C21U in wishing Paul M.A. Baker good luck and continued success as he transitions into his new role as the Senior Director, Research and Strategic Innovation at Georgia Tech's Center for Advanced Communications Policy (CACP).

He will continue to serve as a contributing researcher for C21U.

Paul Baker
Jul 30
Atlanta, GA

Mike McCracken, C21U's emeritus director of Online Course Development and Innovation and Principal Research Scientist has retired after 30 years of service to Georgia Tech.

He was honored on campus by the many faculty and staff members he had worked with over the years.

Colorado University Spring Online Symposium 2014

Rich DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities was the keynote speaker at the Colorado University (CU) Spring Online Symposium 2014 in Denver on May 22.
Regular people are using readily available tools and technology to make extraordinary things. DeMillo spoke to teachers, designers and technologists as they explore the Maker movement in the context of teaching online.


Apr 15

The physical implications of the digital transformation of higher education are becoming visible.

Mar 25
Atlanta, GA

Rich DeMillo, a former dean of the College of Computing, last week was named as the first Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing, the newest endowed chair for the College.

Alan Warren, vice president of engineering of Google and vice-chair of the College of Computing’s Advisory Board, announced the College’s newest endowed chair last year, naming it for his parents, Charlotte and Roger Warren. Last week, the Board of Regents formally approved both the establishment of this chair and DeMillo as its first holder. Warren is also a Georgia Tech alumnus, having earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics in 1978.

At the time he offered the endowment, Warren said Georgia Tech holds a special place for his family, particularly since his parents met here when Roger Warren was earning a chemical engineering degree and Charlotte Warren was a nursing student at the former Crawford Long Hospital.

"After being at Georgia Tech, you want to be able to give back," Warren told Georgia Tech's Campaign Quarterly last August. "The question is, at what time, and how to go about doing that. There were a lot of pieces that went into this being the right time and the right thing to do."

Last week, the final piece fell into place with the approval of DeMillo as the first chair. DeMillo’s long career of scholarship and leadership in computing includes a six-year tenure as the Imlay Dean of Computing from 2002 to 2008, as well as his current role as director of the Center for 21st Century Universities. He was also recently named as one of the first fellows of the Lumina Foundation, a private foundation focused on education.

“I am thrilled and honored to be the first to hold the Charlotte B. and Richard C. Warren Chair,” DeMillo said. “Alan Warren has been an important guiding voice in the College and a source of wisdom and support for me when I was dean. So holding the chair that bears the names of his parents has special meaning for me personally.”

“I want to both congratulate Rich for this well-deserved honor and to Alan Warren for his generosity in endowing this chair,” said Zvi Galil, the current Imlay Dean of Computing. “It’s especially appropriate for Rich to be the first Warren Chair since he recruited Alan to our Advisory Board. I look forward to creating more endowed chairs so we can appropriately recognize our most accomplished senior faculty.”  

Rich DeMillo
Oct 08
Atlanta, GA

Lumina Foundation recently appointed Distinguished Professor Rich DeMillo, director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) at Georgia Tech, as one of its inaugural Lumina Fellows.  Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation committed to designing and building a more accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system.

As one of four Lumina Fellows, DeMillo will help the foundation achieve some of the objectives outlined in its 2013 to 2016 Strategic Plan. Specifically, they will focus on the foundation’s Goal 2025: to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality college degrees, certificates and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

“It's a great honor to be selected by Lumina for this important role,” DeMillo said. “Reaching Lumina's 2025 goal is a challenge for all of us in higher education, and it will take innovation on a large scale to be successful. I look at my role as painting futures for colleges and universities. The alternative is to be left behind as the rest of society figures out how to meet the challenge.”

As a former dean of the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, DeMillo founded C21U in 2011 and continues to direct this “living laboratory” for fundamental change in higher education. Also as chair of the Provost’s Council for Educational Technology, DeMillo is responsible for educational technology innovation on the Georgia Tech campus. He is a frequent speaker on higher education and the author of Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities, published in 2011 by MIT Press.

DeMillo joins three other thought leaders as the first group of Lumina Fellows for an initial two-year appointment. Together the fellows will, through various forms of public communication, enrich the conversations about college attainment and provide recommendations for policy makers, higher education and business leaders and other important stakeholders to help the ability for the United States to dramatically increase college attainment levels.

The other fellows include:

“Mobilizing a broad cross section of society is critical if we are to reach Goal 2025,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “The four Lumina Fellows represent a variety of talents and backgrounds, which will help us address the challenges in system redesign and in rethinking policy to dramatically increase education attainment in the United States—the only acceptable outcome if the country is to maintain a competitive workforce and a healthy democracy.”


Lumina Foundation Announcement

Rich DeMillo
Sep 17
University System of Georgia website
Sep 05
Atlanta, GA

The College of Computing Threads curriculum for undergraduate computer science majors was recognized this month as one of the most effective courses of study throughout the entire University System of Georgia, as the Board of Regents honored the College with its 2014 Teaching Excellence Award for Departments and Programs.

“We received several outstanding nomination portfolios this year, and each portfolio was thoroughly reviewed by a panel of faculty and administrators from across the University System,” wrote Houston Davis, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, in a letter announcing the award. “When the review committee met to discuss the nominations and finalize their recommendations, they voted unanimously to recommend this department as one of this year’s winners.

The College of Computing adopted the Threads curriculum in Fall 2006. In a traditional course of study, students can be forced into a one-size-fits-all experience with little room for specialization and application of their studies toward real-world situations. Through Threads, students experience a cohesive, coordinated set of contexts for understanding computing skills thereby spending their entire four years of study engrossed in real-world computing.

“Our faculty adopted Threads to more accurately and effectively reflect what our students will experience in the actual world of today,” said Charles Isbell, senior associate dean for the College. “We are humbled by the receipt of this prestigious award from the Board of Regents recognizing the leadership role the College has played and continues to play in computing education. Our students also share in this award, as they have been the ones to validate through their success the value of Threads in preparing them for computing careers.”

Aug 17
New York Times

Zvi Galil, dean of the College of Computing, discusses the Institute's new master’s degree in computer science, which is offered entirely through massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Aug 05
Atlanta, GA

Having videos available so that she could learn at her own pace — that’s what Theresa Sorrentino enjoyed most about her recent online class experience.

“The video lectures helped me to better understand the course material because I  could watch and pause each one whenever I needed to,” added Sorrentino, a third-year Biomedical Engineering student.

Sorrentino was one of 11 Georgia Tech students who made up an on-campus contingent of this summer’s Introductory Physics I massive open online course (MOOC). (There were a total of 17,000 students around the world enrolled in the course.) The on-campus students actually took the course through Tech and earned credit.

“This flipped classroom model allowed the Tech students to watch lectures and complete homework assignments online, which freed up class time to work on problems and do other activities together,” said Mike Schatz, the physics professor who led the MOOC.

For example, as part of the course, students were asked to complete five video labs where they recorded a moving object, analyzed it using software, and created a five-minute lab report to share with the class.

When on campus, students were able to do a dry run of their lab reports during the face-to-face time with Schatz, allowing for them to get feedback before uploading their final videos to YouTube.

“This exercise was valuable, because we were able to catch some wrong turns and help students improve along the way,” Schatz said.    

Sorrentino is quick to share that being part of the small cohort of on-campus students was a plus.

“There was good camaraderie among us,” she said. “Also, there was greater accountability. If you didn’t get your work done, it was easily noticed, which was a good incentive to keep up with the class.”   

Aside from the flipped model and the video labs, this course experimented with video white board illustrations as another way to teach the material. The illustrations cover everything from the differences between length and time measurements to friction.

“I thought they were great,” Sorrentino said. “I don’t know if it was because they were a novelty or if I am just a visual learner, but the video illustrations made it easier to understand the information being taught.”

The five- to 15-minute videos were primarily created by several undergraduate students, which allowed the students to become engaged in the teaching process, Schatz said.

From writing the script and creating the storyboard to editing the footage, each video took about eight to 10 hours to complete. The team is still producing videos, with the goal being to have a library of about 100.   

The MOOC will be offered again beginning Aug. 19, and will run for 16 weeks. Schatz’s approach to teaching the course will be similar but with a few changes.

One change will include more frequent testing. This summer, peer-evaluated lab reports, homework, and a final exam contributed to the students’ final grades. In the fall, there will be more frequent testing (weekly quizzes and a midterm) and less weight placed on the lab reports.

“Testing will be spread out, so students will know where they stand in the course, and we will be able to see if they’re grasping the material,” Schatz said.

Also, the number of on-campus students taking the course will increase to six sections of 30.
“We want to find out what it takes to successfully scale up the course to handle all the Tech students who may want to take the course,” Schatz said.

For more information, email Schatz.

Introductory Physics I MOOC Video Line Drawing
Aug 02
Atlanta, GA

The Campus Community Partnership Foundation (C2P) Mentor Walk raises awareness of the importance of education and encourages students to stay in school. Join students, educators, parents, and the community in a walk on the Georgia Tech campus with trained coaches and mentors. Stay for sessions after the walk for students and parents in partnership with Accenture and Deloitte. 

Register for the walk by visiting www.MentorWalk.org.

All students, college-age and younger, participate for free. C2P will provide breakfast, lunch, and T-shirts to all participants. 

Major sponsors: Coca-Cola, Accenture, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Northside Hospital, SFC Energy, Gigabark Broadcast Solutions.

Walk Details

Georgia Institute of Technology • Saturday, September 14, 2013


7:45–9:00 AM—Registration, Breakfast
9:00–10:15 AM—Walk
10:15–10:45 AM—Group Picture
11:00 AM–1:45 PM—Sessions
1:00–2:00 PM—Party on the Quad & Lunch


Registration/check-in will begin at 7:45 AM. Please check-in at the registration tables when you first arrive. You will need to show your photo ID to receive your walk number. Once you have your number, you will be able to get breakfast and participate in activities that will be underway. There will be a group exercises and speakers to get you warmed up for the walk and the day—so don’t be late! The walk will start at 9:00 AM.


Sessions for participants will begin at 11 AM. There will be separate sessions for high school and younger students and adults.Topics for students will range from college prep, job interview skills, financial literacy, and a day in the life of a college student. There will be sessions designed for parents and adults on a variety of topics in education. Teachers accompanying students will have the option to attend sessions with their students or attend adult sessions.


Check out what we will have going on:

  • Enjoy performances and artwork by students
  • Student group tables
  • Vendor and sponsor tables
  • Book distribution to high school and younger students
  • MW-Girl Scout Patch distribution
  • Healthy living tips
  • Sign up to become a mentor or mentee
  • Lunch!
  • T-shirt distribution to those with a walk number
  • and more!
Mentor Walk 2013
Jul 24
The Chronicle of Higher Education

In May, Moody’s announced that the Georgia Institute of Technology’s MOOC-like master’s degree in computer science is credit positive for the university. That report cited increased brand recognition and the potential to increase and diversify enrollment and revenue as major factors in the decision.

Jul 19
Atlanta, GA

Ed. note: This story appears in the first issue of Georgia Tech Engineers, the new magazine from the College of Engineering. To request a copy, please email the editor at editor@coe.gatech.edu

Story by Lyndsey Lewis
Photos by Zach Porter

There is a problem with the robots.

Professor Magnus Egerstedt eyes them with dismay. His robots, rotund little things that wouldn’t look out of place in a Roomba ad, are misbehaving. They’re crawling toward two silver cases in the middle of the floor, but just before reaching them, they’re supposed to sense the obstacles and skitter away.

The demonstration is the highlight of Egerstedt’s lecture; it is the center ring of this particular circus. A professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), Egerstedt is teaching a class on robot control, and the point of the course tends to be lost if the robots in question are going rogue.

Toward the cases they go, but wait! They’re sliding this way and that way. They come to halting stops or turn dizzily, and some of them don’t recognize the cases at all and slam into their shiny edges. HAL 9000 these robots are not, but their predicament is looking dire.

It’s as if they’re drunk — and in a way, they are. The robots, all Khepera IIIs, have infra-red sensors that are sensitive to light, and they’re suffering beneath the harsh glare of studio lamps. This isn’t a typical classroom lecture — these robots are starring in a massive open online course, or MOOC.

Egerstedt is teaching in a familiar way, but the setting is different. There are no students present, and instead of a classroom or lecture hall, the lesson is being given in a studio with a jungle of lamps overhead. Every move Egerstedt makes is recorded for online broadcast, and his robots are not taking kindly to the extra light. Frustrated, Egerstedt calls out to Brian Wilson, the instructional media producer who is filming the lesson.

“Brian, can we do it again?” he asks.

“I’m just going to keep rolling,” Wilson replies.

“Yeah,” Egerstedt says. “Till it works.”

And it does work eventually, and when it does, the effect is sublime. Egerstedt turns triumphantly to his student assistant, Jean-Pierre de la Croix.

“Yeah!” he exclaims. “Robotics is so easy, man.”

A MOOC is a special type of online class. Available to anyone with an Internet connection, most MOOCs offer college-level material via pre-taped lectures, and course enrollments can swell to tens of thousands of students. The premise is simple: Bring higher education to the masses by cutting through academia’s red tape and, most tantalizingly, offering many courses (including Egerstedt’s) at the low, low cost of free.

Read the full article.

Magnus Egerstedt, Magnus Egerstedt Filming
Jul 14
  • Tesca Fitzgerald began to play with computers at before the age of two
  • She skipped middle and high schools and went straight to college
  • Now a graduate, she is about to start her PhD later this year
  • Her two sisters appear to be just as clever
Jul 12
Wall Street Journal

Udacity recently said it will offer master’s degrees from Georgia Tech. Source: Wall Street Journal

Jul 02
Atlanta, GA

Bonnie Ferri is searching for an answer. The question? What is the best way to structure MOOCs for dual use — for the off-campus audience and also as a platform to enhance on-campus learning?

Ferri, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the “champion” of one of seven mini-innovation hubs studying questions regarding MOOCs. 

One method of structuring MOOCs for dual use that is proving to have merit is the “flipped classroom” model that takes a regular class, such as ECE 3710: Circuits and Electronics, and removes all of the lecture material and puts it on the MOOC, then use the classroom time for recitation, active learning, problem solving, and hands-on experiences.

“With in-class hands-on experiences, the students have their laptops and measurement devices, and they’re doing mini-experiments at their desks,” Ferri said. “They’re active. They’re engaged with each other, and they’re engaged with the instructor.” 

As part of her group’s research, Ferri recently attended a conference on online education and talked with a number of instructors who are using MOOCs in their classrooms.

“They were using MOOCs as extra resources for the class; it was not replacing the lecture because it was all optional,” she said.

Another method is to remove all of the lecture material and put it on the MOOC, then use the classroom time for recitation, active learning, problem solving and hands-on experiences.

“The consensus, from talking to a number of people, is if you’re going to do this — especially the second method — take all of the higher level learning and do that in class,” she said. “Make the most of the time with the professor. [Consider] what do you want the students to be able to do? Have them do the high-level work — synthesis work, evaluation, problem solving — in class. And have them do lower level things, like studying facts they need to memorize, online.” 

Ferri and her colleagues had some case studies on campus where instructors are replacing lectures in class with the MOOC. One case study was ECE 4555: Embedded and Hybrid Control, taught last spring by Professor Magnus Egerstedt in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The MOOC was on “Control of Mobile Robots,” and Egerstedt worked with a 4000-level class. 

“This is unusual because it’s a mathematical class taken by graduate students as well as seniors,” Ferri said. “It’s very high level and not your typical MOOC because of the level of depth, and it was rigorous.” 

In this case, all of the lecture material was online, allowing students to review the material in advance.

“It is a lot more efficient to get through the material in the online format,” Ferri said. “It takes less time to cover the material in this format than in class.  Students can go at their own pace; some will watch the videos at 1.5 times the speed while others will pause often and also re-watch videos.”

Egerstedt replaced the in-classroom time with quizzes on the lecture material (to make sure the students actually listened to the lectures) and with project time, a new element he added to the class. During project time he brought mobile robots into the class and did experiments with them.

Grading was one of the greatest challenges because of the difficulty in accounting for the student’s successful completion of the Coursera course. Another challenge is, now that the instructor has wiped the slate clean of lectures, how should the in-class time be used? What are the activities that make sense?

Egerstedt questioned the student workload because he believes with this approach he required more from the students than he normally does because of the projects and hands-on experiments.

Ferri also spoke with Professor Mike Schatz in the School of Physics, who did the same thing with Physics 2211: Introduction to Physics. Schatz agrees there is “perceived increase in student workload” because students think the MOOC format is more work than they normally would have for the class. Schatz added a communications component to the class in which students present a lab report.

One of the biggest challenges is assessment. Is this method working better than the traditional approach? How effective is this as an educational model?

Ferri and her mini innovation hub colleagues are working with the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) to come up with a plan for assessing MOOCs, so that instructors will not have to create an assessment plan on their own from the ground up.

“By using a pilot study, we can take this information and feed it back to improve the class,” Ferri said.