May 28
Atlanta, GA

When it comes to gauging a student’s understanding of what’s going on in class, a video can be much more revealing than the average homework assignment.   

“Students tend to stretch the limits of the collaborative nature of your average homework assignment and often arrive at the correct answer without understanding the material,” said Ed Greco, an instructor who coordinates half of the introductory courses in the School of Physics. “But when the assignment requires them to problem solve in a short video, it becomes very difficult to hide the gaps in their understanding.”

Greco began using the videos as a learning tool after attending a workshop sponsored by the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. At the workshop, Greco met Jarrad Reddick, academic support manager for OMED: Educational Services, who was already using video as a way to urge calculus students to demonstrate their knowledge. 

“I became interested in championing video use in class because my master’s thesis focuses on the integration of multimedia technologies into science, technology, engineering and math courses at Georgia Tech,” Reddick said. “In addition to providing Ed with support, I’m currently working with faculty from the schools of Mathematics and Biology to help them integrate video use into classes. And I’ve partnered with the Center for 21st Century Universities to work on other ways to employ video use in the classroom.”

This academic year, Greco gave students the option to submit a short video response to a physics-based problem for extra credit. Last  semester, for example, he provided a viral video of people swinging on the world’s largest rope swing (visit  

Approximately 20 percent of his students participated and created five-minute videos that modeled the physics of the swing. Students were asked to respond to questions including, “Where along the trajectory is the tension of the stretchy rope the greatest?”

Greco encouraged students to use whatever video camera was available, whether it was a camcorder or a cell phone. (The Library offers a variety of digital camcorders if students are in need of one: visit

Reddick was available to help Greco’s students with the projects and encourages any student who has a question about creating a video to contact OMED for assistance.

“I think one of the greatest misconceptions about OMED is that we only serve minority students. In reality, we support all students,” Reddick added.

In addition to making a video to earn the extra credit, each participant also had to rank eight student videos, which Greco randomly assigned, from favorite to least favorite. The amount of extra credit earned was dependent on the student’s average ranking received from their peers.

“It’s important to emphasize to students that the videos will be judged on the quality of the physics, not the production quality of the video,” Greco said. “This prevents students from inflating their rankings with comedy or satire.”

Greco didn’t provide a specific rubric or solutions, just questions for students to keep in mind as they viewed each video. The problem itself was open in nature, so there was no correct answer, he added.

Each time Greco offers these assignments, he is able to improve the process.

“For example, last semester when I first tried this, I didn’t realize that most students will wait until the last second to submit their assignment, and this was problematic when it came time for students to upload their videos to T-Square,” Greco said. “T-Square couldn’t handle hundreds of students uploading and converting large videos all at the same time.”

To remedy the problem, this semester students were allowed to upload their videos anywhere on the web (e.g., to YouTube or Vimeo). The only requirement was that they had to provide a URL where the video could be accessed.

Another change that Greco will make next semester is to require the videos rather than make them extra credit.

“Students have been receptive to the videos being mandatory, with the understanding that I would need to dial back some other tasks related to the class, given creating the videos takes more time and effort,” Greco said. “And I’m willing to do this, because the videos are much more useful to me when it comes to ensuring that students are learning the material.”

For more information, email Greco or Reddick.

Sara Ferretti Extra Credit Physics Video, Susmita Gorai Extra Credit Physics Video
May 17
Atlanta, GA

The Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience announce a video contest, called "You on the Tube," to its community of students and faculty.

The goal is to creatively promote, in a fun and innovative way, the great research and other activities that take place throughout the diverse Institute community. The videos will be judged in four separate categories:  humorous or musical, the "stuff" GT (or IBB) graduate students say, best demonstrated protocol, and 
K-12 educational/demonstration video (cell culture, e.g.).

Winning teams will win a free lunch at a restaurant in Tech Square and the winning videos will be loaded to the IBB YouTube Channel.

Deadline for all video submissions should be turned in at the IBB front office via jump drive, no later than June 30, 2012.

For complete contest requirements, CLICK HERE.

IBB Video Contest "You on the Tube"
Apr 16
Atlanta, GA

In an age where technology drives the pace of change, many universities are struggling to keep up with high-tech education alternatives. However, instead of ignoring the inevitability of change, how can institutions incorporate these disruptive technologies within the traditional university?

That is the question that Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U) sought to answer with its first annual TechBurst Competition, where students were invited to create short, sharable videos that explain a single concept in an entertaining and compelling way while competing for $5,000 in cash prizes.

“As a living laboratory, C21U’s goal is to experiment with cutting-edge ideas in higher education by taking change that is occurring at the periphery, like Khan Academy, and incorporating it within an established university,” said Richard DeMillo, director of C21U. “TechBurst fits into that scheme because it takes your conventional lecture and breaks it apart so that it can be reformed and reused in new ways.”

C21U announced the winners of the competition during the TechBurst Awards Ceremony yesterday.  First place went to the video “Constructing the ‘Perfect Cube’ in Biomedical Engineering,” created by Aaron Morris, Rachel Cornelius, Matt Duane, and Clair Matthews; second place to “The Physics of Gravitational Pull in Space” submitted by Sarah Lashinksy; third place to “Introduction to Circuits: Resistors, Capacitors and Inductors” submitted by Hunter Scott; and the crowd-sourced winner was “Chemical Combustion” submitted by Erin Lightfoot.

In its inaugural year, TechBurst’s pioneering approach to learning has provided C21U with some valuable lessons regarding technological innovation within the classroom.  After introducing the concept of TechBurst, many Georgia Tech students and faculty were excited by the idea of a crowd-sourced learning tool. 

“We were surprised at the number of professors who were interested in contributing to the project and incorporating TechBurst into their classrooms,” DeMillo said. “Students also expressed a desire to teach what they know to their peers, as well as to be educated by students who have struggled with the same concepts.”

However, TechBurst also faced interesting challenges.

“Since TechBurst videos are student generated, they’re not always correct, and that makes some traditionalists nervous,” DeMillo said. “However, that it is nature of experimentation. This is meant to be a start of a thread of conversations among students, where other students annotate videos and correct errors.”

DeMillo also said that as TechBurst evolves, it will be important to generate entire courses of material, particularly for upper-level STEM classes. While there is proliferation of instructional videos for lower-level courses online, hardly any videos exist for upper-level courses. TechBurst videos will be used to populate an online library, which will eventually house videos that explain every topic covered in undergraduate courses offered at Georgia Tech. In the mean time, C21U will continue to hold the TechBurst competition annually and hopes to involve more faculty and students.

 “Testing new methods of learning and teaching is not always going to be a smooth process, but that’s inevitable when you’re one of the first universities to adopt a new model,” said DeMillo. “We need to shift the frame of reference from universities as preserves of tradition to drivers of innovation, and TechBurst is one of the ways we are attempting to accomplish that goal.”

Mar 22
Atlanta, GA

Recently, the Institute for the Future had the opportunity to partner with Autodesk and Georgia Tech's Center for 21st Century Universities for an energetic day-long session exploring the new thinking that is emerging in the rapidly shifting higher education space.

A rich spectrum of viewpoints was explored by participants, from Will Wright on the future of games and education, to Howard Rheingold on new tools for self-directed learning and Jason Rosoff of Khan Academy on the implications of the explosion in online content. One of the best things about these kinds of events is the sparks that are created when the ideas of sharp, passionate people are put together in one place. For sessions like these, IFTF often relies on a graphic recorder, an artist who listens and creates a larger-than-life real-time visual record of the conversation.

Even for those not originally in attendance, these records can bring ideas together in powerful new ways, often reviving reviving some of those original sparks of the session at a glance. At the same time, they also can reward more in depth exploration. In the notes attached here, it is possible to follow the course of the discussion as participants first offered a few words to describe themselves and then immersed into a series of presentations from those looking at educational innovation in many different ways.

As we move into a period of massive disruption in higher education, it is encouraging to see the level of innovative thinking that is taking shape in this area.

 For more information or to view the infographic generated by this event, please visit:

Feb 22
Atlanta, GA

C21U officially welcomes Jessica Pater as a Research Associate with C21U. Aside from her role at C21U, Ms. Pater is the Associate Director of the Foundations for the Future (F3) program within the Georgia Tech Research Institute where she holds the rank of Research Associate.  She is the Project Director for several educational programs including the Direct to Discovery (D2D) and Georgia CyberSafety Initiative (GaCSI).  She has taught courses in the areas of digital citizenship, cyber-safety and cyberethics, technology applications in the classroom, and virtual worlds in education.

Feb 09
Atlanta, GA

On September 8th, C21U Student affiliate Connie Chen and her assosicates won Best Picture at Georgia Tech's annual Campus Movie Fest Competition with her short film The TherapistAs a result of this win, The Therapist will be screened in Hollywood as well as the prestegious Cannes Film Festival. 

Ms. Chen's previous works include the TechBurst announcement video which can be found here.

Congratulations, Connie!

Dec 01
Atlanta, GA

Dr. Paul M.A. Baker has been named as the new Associate Director for the Center for 21st Century Universities. Paul joins the C21U team from the Center for Advanced Communication Policy where he spent 10 years as Director of Research. Welcome to the team Dr. Baker!

Paul M.A. Baker
Oct 31
Atlanta, GA

Check out the Center for 21st Century Universitites' Director Rich DeMillo's new book Abelard to Apple: the Fate of American Colleges and Universities

Summary taken from Amazon:

The vast majority of American college students attend two thousand or so private and public institutions that might be described as the Middle--reputable educational institutions, but not considered equal to the elite and entrenched upper echelon of the Ivy League and other prestigious schools. Richard DeMillo has a warning for these colleges and universities in the Middle: If you do not change, you are heading for irrelevance and marginalization. In Abelard to Apple, DeMillo argues that these institutions, clinging precariously to a centuries-old model of higher education, are ignoring the social, historical, and economic forces at work in today's world. In the age of iTunes, open source software, and for-profit online universities, there are new rules for higher education. DeMillo, who has spent years in both academia andin industry, explains how higher education arrived at its current parlous state and offers a road map for the twenty-first century. He describes the evolving model for higher education, from European universities based on a medieval model to American land-grant colleges to Apple's iTunes U and MIT's OpenCourseWare. He offers ten rules to help colleges reinvent themselves (including "Don't romanticize your weaknesses") and argues for a focus on teaching undergraduates. DeMillo's message--for colleges and universities, students, alumni, parents, employers, and politicians--is that any college or university can change course if it defines a compelling value proposition (one not based in "institutional envy" of Harvard and Berkeley) and imagines an institution that delivers it.

Hear Rich discuss his book in his Authors@Google talk. 

Links to purchase the book:

Aug 09
Atlanta, GA

The Center for 21st Century Universities is proud to announce the First Annual Tech Burst Competition. In this contest students will compete to win a substantial prize by creating a 10-15 minute  video or other multimedia presentation of a specific academic topic. Each presentation should use compelling story telling, innovative media and inspired mentoring to explain their chosen subject matter. Look for more details and information about this competition on our website

Tech Tower
Jul 05
Atlanta, GA

What is C21U offering and who can participate?

The Center for 21st Century Universities is proud to announce that in Fall 2011 Georgia Tech will offer its first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for students interested in learning more about Instructional Technology. This course is open to anyone in the world, but only a select few—including students at Georgia Tech—are given credit for it. 

What is a MOOC?

If you’re still reading, you’re probably asking, “That’s great. So what’s a MOOC?” A MOOC is a form of computer-mediated learning with each week’s lecturer providing course materials and discussion topics (streamed online) on that week’s theme. After each lecture, students are required to engage in the discussion; this can be in the form of a blog post, a vlog, a forum discussion or other interactions. Students will be evaluated based on their level of engagement within the community.

A MOOC differs from traditional distance-learning classrooms in a few key ways. In addition to allowing any interested parties to participate, all of the content produced from the course is shared by everyone involved. A MOOC is participatory—learners contribute to the class by building on the topics discussed, researching those topics further and then creating their own relevant content, which other students then comment on, critique, connect and share, creating a community of content shared by all.

What will the MOOC cover, and how will students be evaluated?

The direction this MOOC will take depends on who participates and how they interact. However, all discussion surrounding this MOOC will focus on the role of instructional technology in forming a student’s digital identity, the role of open learning communities (OLCs), and more.

Who is teaching the course?

Interested students can find a list of course facilitators plus many other details (course outline, discussion threads, blog posts, etc.) at the MOOC’s website:

How much does it cost?

Nothing! There is no cost to enroll.

Who is eligible to enroll?

Everyone. Like many Georgia Tech seminars, this MOOC promises to be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students alike, and all are welcome. And there is no class size limit—in fact, we invite all interested Georgia Tech students to participate. The MOOC is a 4-credit course divided over two semesters (2 and 2); the course numbers are CS 4802 ELT (CRN92449) and CS 8802 ELT (CRN92450). To register, visit the MOOC website:

If you have not already registered, here is what you should do:

  1. Subscribe to this blog, so that you can follow posts, comment on discussions and register your presence.  There is a button in the side bar of this page for your convenience. If you do not want to be identified, then subscription is not required to participate in the MOOC.
  2. Visit this page to register for the MOOC
  3. If you are registered at Georgia Tech, visit your T-Square page for additional information.
  4. If you are part of the Georgia Tech community and would like to be added to T-Square, send an email message containing your preferred Georgia Tech email address to me with the subject line ADDME.
  5. Watch your email for updates and announcements

Who do I contact for more information?

For more information, contact Emily Ivey at or visit the MOOC website at

Jun 27
Atlanta, GA

OpenStudy is a social learning network where students ask questions, give help, and connect with other students studying the same things. It is an education-focused startup platform for “massively multi-player study groups.” What this means is that students who are studying the same subject like math or writing can ask and answer questions on OpenStudy, which uses Facebook Connect to let users interact and learn collaboratively through profiles and group chat.