Experiencing Autonomous Futures: Engaged learning that challenge technology implementation for smart cities.
Today’s learners are expected to enter the workforce prepared to design, develop, and implement new technologies into the natural and built environments. Ideally, these technologies are in the best interest of the public and support living, improve commuting, and enhance safety. But, students are rarely exposed to guided learning experiences with these technologies. Thus, Eva Kassens-Noor added an experiential, authentic learning component for her Urban& Regional Planning and Civil Engineering class UP878/CE878 class “Autonomous Futures: self-driving vehicles, domotics, and artificial intelligence in smart cities”. Her goal is to assess the changes in students’ knowledge, skills, and values when learning with these technologies. Kassens-Noor won an honorable mention at MSU’s 2021 AT&T awards.
Their analysis suggests that HoE and traditional learning may have different effects on student learning outcomes. For example, students in this study reported less familiarity with technology after traditional learning and more familiarity after HoE, particularly for the most complicated technologies, such as drones and TEMI. It is unclear why this is the case. It could be that HoE with the technologies is important for building familiarity with technology, particularly for those that are new, complex, or still relatively uncommon. Similarly, their analysis suggests that HoE may provide students with greater insight into the potential negative consequences of certain technologies. For example, they found that after traditional learning students were less likely to purchase an AV; after HoE this reduced even further. The opposite situation occurs with AI-enabled technologies, traditional learning made students less familiar with and less willing to interact with these technologies; however, these trends reversed after HoE, and students became more comfortable with the technology and were more eager to interact with it. HoE also allowed students to more easily identify the potential challenges associated with implementing AI-enabled technologies, namely, getting other members of society to accept it.
The pooled funds from the SPDC mini-grant went to:
- Introducing different emerging technologies into the UP878/CE878 classroom, namely: drones, digital cameras, echo dots, digital assistants, and personal robots. The literature shows that technologies have the potential to dramatically improve a student’s education, and moreover, may assist a student as they enter the workplace. They also argue that providing students with hands-on experience with these technologies in their educations will serve as a means to increase equity. Not all students come from a background where they have access to emerging or high-end technology, and those students may be at a disadvantage when they enter the workplace. Especially when considering how technologically-dependent some professions are becoming, and even more so the increasingly competitive landscape of work. Providing these students with experience may help level the playing field, so to speak.
- Mentoring junior faculty (Noah Durst), undergraduate students (Luca Muench and Dominic Pavone), one Master student (Travis Decaminada), and one Ph.D. student (Jake Parcell).
- Submitting a publication to Active Learning in Higher Education demonstrating the advantages and disadvantages of implementing hands-on learning with technology as a pilot study.
- Submitting an NSF proposal focusing on improving STEM education and understanding the impact of emerging technology in a classroom setting. They used the pilot data collected and the publication to make the case why it is important to understand the impact of Hands-on Learning with emerging technologies in education.