Connected Campus and the iShoe

Article by Sean Smith
Originally published in a different format

Like the final stone laid atop the pyramids, Ohio State’s Capstone Courses seek to give graduate and senior level students real world experience at the end of their college careers. The course is designed so that students meet in groups with companies that have a need for a specific product. The students then develop that product over the course of a 10-week period. Past businesses such as Chase Bank and Quest have taken part in the programs. “It’s about learning the process of how to deal with companies and work the product along as it goes,” says James Walton of OIT. “This is a real at it gets. Students are their own small business.”

Of course the students aren’t thrown out completely on their own. Professors are there to watch and make sure things are being done correctly. “With this course, students meet twice a week at nights to share their project with the class and give updates as to where they are,” says Walton.

Walton helps direct two capstone courses sponsored by OIT. Both these courses have been getting a lot of attention, Connected campus and the iShoe.

What is Connected Campus?
Every month OIT holds student focus groups to see the different types of technology being used on campus and to ask students what they think needs to be changed. “The one thing everything always gets centered around is that we’re losing communication with our students,” says Walton. “Often a student has all this information that is out there that the university provides, but the student can’t get it easily. With connected campus, we’re trying to create one way to push all this information out.”

With this concept, every student would have a device. For this quarter, the students in the capstone course have chosen the iPod Touch. This device would then be uniquely identified to the student’s name and number at OSU. Anything sent to the would also be sent to the device.

“In the background, we would also have a sign up page with different channels people could subscribe to,” says Walton. OIT talks frequently to the registrar and knows a lot about what each individual student does throughout the day at OSU. The application in development this quarter is class notifications. “Every 15 minutes before a class, the student would get a notification that says they need to be at this place for this class,” says Walton. “When you build off of that, things like GPS could be added to give students walking directions from wherever they are.”

Here are some of the other exciting things Walton says could be added to Connected Campus:

  • Grade Notification: Tired of refreshing constantly to find your grades. Connected Campus could send you your grades the minute they’re posted.
  • Best Book Deals: Connected Campus could send you the best deals in town for whatever books you need for your classes.
  • Security Alerts: Alerts could be sent out to unique access points on campus to alert students in that particular spot of security threats near them.

It’s very simple concept. It’s simply a portal that we can push stuff out to every student on,” says Walton. “The catch is that we intelligently pick data that the student would actually like.”

Another exciting advantage to this project is the potential for future capstone courses to build off of it. Given each capstone course only runs for 10 weeks, only so much can be completed. Connected Campus however is a big, exciting project with many possibilities. “There are a couple professors over at CS&E that are so hyped up about this project, they’ve devoted three graduate students to own this product after this quarter,” says Walton. According to Walton, a stable system could be set up by June run by himself and another of the grad students. “Once this system is set up, future capstone courses will be able to build little pieces off of it. A department could make that a project for one quarter.”

The one problem consistently raised with Connected Campus is how every student could afford a device like this. The potential for this device goes directly into the classroom however. “Now we got this device roughly down to the cost of a textbook,” says Walton. Professors could use the devices to keep attendance in class or send book chapters out to all the students. “Professors could get students to buy this device instead of a textbook for the quarter,” says Walton. “This device will be able to do a lot more than a textbook plus it could be kept for other classes in that quarter or future quarters. Eventually the device will save costs for the students rather than making them spend more.”

“The big hope for this system is to make everyone more comfortable with campus,” says Walton. “Our idea is to get rid of all the brochures and packets of information given to students and make things a whole lot simpler.”

The iShoe?
Purdue’s eStadium has been around for years. Through it football fans can get play-by-play information, instant replays, player stats, and much more sent directly to their phones while watching a game. “Somebody from Purdue eventually came to work for Ohio State,” says Walton. “Recently within the last 3 to 4 months, he asked ‘how come we don’t anything like that at OSU?’” Given that OSU has one of the biggest stadiums in the country and some of the most exuberant fans, it was an obvious question.

From here the iShoe was born. Like Connected Campus, the idea behind the iShoe is that fans would have a device in their hands able to obtain information during the game. Here are some of the exciting features that could potentially be added, some drawn directly from Purdue’s eStadium:

  • Instant Replays
  • Play-by-Play stats
  • Player Bios
  • Info on the shortest bathroom lines
  • Info about the nearest first-aid
  • Ability to order food or drink directly from your seat

OSU’s Capstone students will continue to work on in the fall what they already developed this quarter. “It’s been a slow developing project,” says Walton. “Once it does get rolling, we’ll hopefully get some real good feedback.” So far the reactions for the iShoe have been good, and come fall something tangible should begin to see light.

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