Elon Technology Blog

Elon robotics class gears up for success

img_4214The study of robotics can lead its pupils to a dozen different careers, from industrial building to the construction of humanoids, and the world is paying attention. Across the board, robotics is drawing attention both for its mainstream application and futuristic intrigue. Elon University is allowing students to get ahead of this trend, offering CSC 373 this fall.

The course, also known as Robotics, introduces students to the basics of the field and shows them how to program robots to complete certain challenges. The finished robots are expected to complete some tasks autonomously, and some with the assistance of a remote. Joel Hollingsworth, Chair of the Department of Computing Sciences, has high hopes for the future of this hands-on course.

“This class is kind of fun because you get to build something with your hands. You get to write the software and see it work,” explains Hollingsworth enthusiastically.

CSE 373 is as Hollingsworth describes it: “purely an intro course.” Currently, any students who have taken CSE 130 are eligible for the class, regardless of major or previous exposure to robotics. Hollingsworth admits that the course does present a unique set of frustrations to students.

“There are a lot of moving pieces to it,” he admits. “You’re developing software and a lot of things can go wrong. Trying to figure out how to fix those things can be difficult. But, it’s really rewarding when you do it.”

Read more examples of faculty using ATACC grants to work with technology in interesting ways.

The 2000’s have seen dozens of research articles on the power of robotics in higher education, as well as in modern society. Oxford University researchers have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated within the next two decades. Due to these stunning statistics, offering students experience in robotics has become more important than ever. Elon students enrolled in CSE 373 are expected to take a wealth of knowledge out of the classroom and into the real world. Hollingsworth attests to the fact that Introduction to Robotics will enhance critical skills in computer science, programming, and problem-solving.

Of course, Hollingsworth’s department is aware that there are dangers associated with robotic machinery, and have worked to mitigate them. The course is based on the wiring of “medium-sized” robot, with the size being moderated for safety purposes. Hollingsworth explained that besides this, students are required to treat the class like a lab science; close-toed shoes and pulled-back hair are musts.

A second small roadblock CSE 373 has faced is the steep cost of funding the course.

img_4211“Physics has run the course in the past, and they just had a couple of robotics kits. Then Computer Science wanted to join, so we bought more. It got expensive, but we think it’s worth it,” Hollingsworth remarks. “Now it’s co-funded by those two departments.”

CSE 373 is also fortunate to be in part funding by an Academic Technology and Computing Committee (ATACC) grant, which used to purchase one robotics kit.

The goals for students enrolled in CSE 373 are varied; they include to enhance problem-solving skill, improve researching ability, efficiently write software and develop software kits, learn to debug existing software, and practice teamwork to accomplish jobs. The goals beyond the course extend further yet; to prepare students for a future world in which robots may be a staple of society.

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Constantly connected: From cars to refrigerators


ncsamWeek 4 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) wants us to think about our continuously connected lives and the role cyber security plays in making sure these connections are secure.  Consider the number of devices that can connect to the Internet through Bluetooth technology, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks.  Gadgets like smartphones, smart TVs and even cars and refrigerators now connect to the Internet. Collectively, these devices and objects are known as the Internet of Things (IoT).  While it may be cool to have all sorts of information at our fingertips, are there security and privacy concerns we should be aware of with being constantly connected?

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Cybercrime prevention tips

ncsamWelcome to week 3 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)!  This week seeks to highlight how to recognize and combat cybercrime.  Online crime has become a growing issue in our always-connected world, but there are steps we can take to help prevent ourselves from becoming victims of cybercrime.

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Cyber security in the workplace

ncsamWelcome to week 2 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and its focus on creating a cyber security culture in the workplace. Both private and public sector organizations should realize their employees need to be constantly thinking about cyber security as they log into online systems, perform simple tasks like checking emails, and as they work away from the office using mobile devices.

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3 basic online safety tips


Week 1 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) focuses on the basic steps to online safety and security.  All digital citizens should be aware and understand good cybersecurity practices to protect against identity theft and scams.  Here are three simple tips.

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Online alternatives to cancelling class

IMG_2307When inclement weather, illness, or travel requires you to be away from campus, consider using online alternatives to engage students in the work of your class.

Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Use Moodle as a central location for students to find course information, lead and facilitate discussions, and post and submit assignments. You can also live chat with your students using Moodle’s text-based chat.
  • Use web conferencing tools like WebEx to hold class synchronously.
  • Introduce a topic/concept using video. Use Kaltura to record a quick introduction using your web cam or record your screen, and then upload the video to your course in Moodle.
  • Add audio to PowerPoint slides, and then upload your file to Moodle.
  • Select a video from the Learning On Demand site and lead a discussion in Moodle.
  • Assign Lynda Training resources to help students learn new technology skills like web design, presenting with PowerPoint, editing video, and more.

Teaching and Learning Technologies (TLT) can support you with implementing any of the above ideas as well as provide additional suggestions for online alternatives.

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Use this secret trick to get a sneak peek of your Fall classroom

Picture of an Elon classroomThe beginning of a new semester is a whirlwind of excitement alongside an ever-growing list of unknowns. One of those unknowns is your classroom space. Are you teaching in a new classroom this fall? Do you want to know if anything has changed with a space you’ve already taught in?

Elon has tools and resources you can use to preview what your classroom will look like and what technology it contains. I’ll highlight two for you in this article.

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5 Moodle tips to start the semester

Image of a start lineIt’s time to get your Moodle courses ready! Here are five helpful (and short) tutorials for building your Moodle course at the start of the semester.  Continue reading »

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Stefanie Poe receives Acorn Accolade


Stefanie Poe receiving the award from Assistant VP of Technology Christopher Waters and standing next to her supervisor Anthony Bennett.

Stefanie Poe, Campus Technology Support Lead for Elon, is the July recipient of the Acorn Accolade.

This award is given to an outstanding member of Elon’s Instructional and Campus Technologies team each month.

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Elon embraces the National Week of Making

Elon students, alumni, and faculty participated in this year’s national Week of Making with conferences, faires, and White House exhibits. We led discussions, educated the public, and even took home awards – and we wanted to make sure that you heard about it.

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