Students Pump Up The [X-FILEs] Jam

On Feb. 8, students from several Florida universities gathered on Florida Tech’s campus for the inaugural X-FILEs Jam.

Part of the National Science Foundation’s eXploring the Future of Innovative Learning Environments (X-FILEs) project, the jam was a one-day ideation session in which student teams, using artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobile learning, virtual reality and other cutting-edge technologies, each developed a solution that “improves or enhances the student experience for a challenging dimension of college-level STEM education.”

Participants, who are studying a variety of majors at University of South Florida, University of Florida, University of Central Florida and Eastern Florida State College, first assembled into groups of four to five members.

After brainstorming, identifying and prioritizing STEM students’ unmet needs, each team built a low-fidelity prototype addressing the need and presented it to judges, which included industry and education leaders, their peers and jam co-organizer Kurt Winkelmann, a Florida Tech biomedical and chemical engineering professor, who specializes in virtual worlds in the chemistry teaching lab as well as curriculum design for chemistry and nanotechnology lab courses.

Joining Winkelmann at the judges’ table was co-organizer and Penn State Altoona information sciences professor Jungwoo Ryoo, a graduate student and Matthew Becchio from Engineering & Computer Simulations (ECS), an award-winning global training and technology solutions company that sponsored the jam.

“[I am] overjoyed by the dedication and commitment of the students and impressed by their creativity,” Winkelmann says.

The Awards

Team Measure

Best Technology, Most Impactful and Best Overall awards

Developed a controlled environment—using ambient music for a relaxing atmosphere, virtually-assessed tasks and Oculus eye movement tracking to denote attention—for administering formative assessments to students requiring special accommodations.

Team Extra Extra

Students’ Choice award

Created “Mentor Tinder,” an app matching students with mentors from a large database based on their shared interests and expectations—similar to the dating app.

Team To-Do

Most Likely To Succeed Technology award

Modified learning management systems using a survey to customize students’ learning activities based on their hobbies, interests or careers, making them more meaningful and engaging.

Team WhatsApp

Creativity award

Developed an app connecting students with live or artificial intelligence tutors worldwide to clarify doubts regarding different topics or academic subjects 24/7.

Team Stuff

Designed a Fitbit-like device to track a student’s learning pace and suggest required learning time an individual should devote to a course or task.

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