The George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation coordinates a geographically distributed REU program with up to 30 students at 5 to 7 research sites each summer. Creating a sense of cohort and providing opportunities for the students to interact is challenging. The program coordinators have leveraged the NEES hub cyberinfrastructure to engage students in professional development and peer-to-peer interaction. Some experimentation with Facebook to sustain engagement with alumni is underway. Resources include a course management system (Moodle embedded in NEES hub) and a virtual world called Quake Quest. Through the course management system students post a variety of project deliverables and comment on each other’s work. The virtual world is being used to host a virtual poster session during which students can comment on draft posters and presentations before the cohort meets in person at the Young Researchers Symposium at the end of the program. Quake Quest was developed and beta tested in year 1 of the NEES REU, and in year 2 a more functional world was presented to students. Through experience (evaluation) with the virtual world we have learned that students need time to experience the world before using it to present posters. In year 3 will develop a short series of learning activities to foster cohort between the students and provide some interaction with capabilities of Quake Quest before using it in a virtual poster session.
Thalia Anagnos, Alicia Lyman-Holt, and Sean Brophy. "Work-in-Progress: Linking a Geographically Distributed REU Program with Networking and Collaboration Tools" ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition (2012): 25.1493.1-25.1493.16.