Week 07 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Week 07 – Lab + Reading Response


Since my topic primarily focuses on student activism in more recent years, I garnered several emails from different archive staff members directing me to other more recent, online sources. Some of those sources were secondary sources, but I have some of the primary sources listed here below.

This source covers the ideas proposed by students, faculty, and staff to address systemic racism within the Grainger College of Engineering, as spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement in mid 2020. The task force came together to better inform the dean with specific implementations and goals.

“Report by the Anti-Racism Task Force to Dean Rashid Bashir, Grainger College of Engineering.” The Anti-Racist Task Force of the IDEA Institute, 14 Aug 2020, https://ws.engr.illinois.edu/sitemanager/getfile.asp?id=1594. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.

The University of Illinois System will be creating a system-wide Chicago-based academic center focused on racism, as well as providing grants, funding, lecture series, and education to address racism.

Clotter, Haydee. “U of I to launch academic center focused on racism.” Fox Illinois, 24 July 2020, https://foxillinois.com/news/local/u-of-i-to-launch-academic-center-focused-on-racism. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.

In this meeting, the Board of Trustees acknowledged that addressing systemic racism and social injustice was a priority of the University with ideas to address it including supporting faculty research in those fields as well as a series of working groups.

“Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois July 23, 2020.” The Board of Trustees, 23 July 2020, http://www.trustees.uillinois.edu/trustees/minutes/2020/July-23-2020-BOT.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.

In this report, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion highlights the departmental and institutional efforts to be more diverse in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Report 2017-2018.” The Office of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, 15 Nov 2018, http://www.trustees.uillinois.edu/trustees/agenda/November-15-2018/r-nov-2017-2018-Diversity-Equity-and-Inclusion-Report.pdf. Accessed 12 Oct 2020.


Describe your background and history at the University.

While at the University, what have (or did) you observe in terms of student activism?

What issues or challenges do student activists face?

How does the University react to such demands?

How do you think UIUC compares to its peer institutions in terms of social justice-based activism?

How effective do you think those methods of activism were and why?

What do you think should be changed or implemented?

What is your view of the future in terms of meaningful change by the University?

1d Identify Interviewees & Survey Distribution Leads

Interview: Obiamaka Onwuta, former #BeingBlackatIllinois member

Ronald Bailey, professor in African American Studies

Kendall Hester, Blacks and African Americans in Computing member

Anisha Narain, student activist

Ross Wantland, director of diversity and social justice education at the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations

Dr. Yun Shi, director of International Education

Reading Response

PLATO was instrumental in distance learning applications as well as beyond as a two-communication system. Using PLATO in order to conduct research via survey distribution was very highly well-received with over 90% of survey respondents saying that they wanted to see more issues discussed on PLATO (Lamont 21). It was also outlined for usage as part of Delphi-like conferences or to develop strategies based on information from the community (Lamont 32). The Notes section of PLATO became message forums that anyone could post to, with its public, collaborative, group messaging environment that pathed the path for email later on (Dear). Communication-wise, PLATO had had emoticons since 1976, which was several years before ASCII emoticons were even developed (Dear). As well, PLATO was instrumental in pioneering education for blind students by acting as an instructor, tool for instructors, or tool to print instruction materials (Weber 20).

There a multitude of differences between PLATO and current distance-based learning platforms like Khan Academy, Coursera, and YouTube. For the former two, their value is prided on showing examples to users and letting users apply their skills to new problems. In that way, it also caters question sets and points to their user base so that they can focus their efforts on learning their weaker skills. This generally is a more recent invention I’d say due to the rise of technology and consolidated efforts into the user experience. As well, the hardware + software aspect of PLATO made it difficult to use and inaccessible for many. While arguably still inaccessible to the majority of the global population, online-based learning formats nowadays can be used by anyone with a phone, tablet, or computer with an internet connection, which now applies to vastly more people.

Week 07 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Part 1: Lab – Ethical Research and Best Practices


Interview Questions:

  1. How has the constant growth of technology changed the way students connect with each other and the world?
  2. What communication method through technology is the most efficient? How so?
  3. Did you experience a social change after using a certain technology to communicate?
  4. Before COVID, did you use technology on a daily basis? If so, how often did you use it? If not, why do you decide not to?
  5. Does it replace, or does it aid human beings? How does it affect the quality of our lives?
  6. What social media platforms do you use and why?
  7. How does technology affect our perception of our needs? How does it affect our way of seeing and experiencing the world? (U of I) (Safer App)
  8. To what extent does technology redefine reality? Does it serve to solidify knowledge or relationships?

Interviewees and Survey Distribution Leads:

  1. Daniel Turner – Director – Division of General Studies
  2. Melissa Newel – Director – Undergraduate Affairs/School of Information Sciences
  3. Mirko Janjanin – RSO Leader for National Organization of Business and Engineering
  4. Malik Siddique – RSO Leader for National Organization of Business and Engineering

Reading Response:

PLATO was able to make a big impact on creating a new type of mass communications system in and outside of educational applications. To begin with, this system “consists of a keyset which the student uses to ‘talk’ to the computer and a display screen which the computer uses to ‘talk’ to the student” (Weber). By allowing the system to communicate with a student who is blind, it could potentially change and reshape how many other students with a similar disability can still learn properly. Additionally, “there are over 3,000 authors who generate new lesson material” on the University of Illinois PLATO system (Bitzer). These authors cover many lesson materials involving key subjects such as mathematics and English, and certain courses in the CBE (Computer Based Education for the Handicapped) have been developed to directly or indirectly aid the handicapped. Additionally, to develop tactile speech recognition, PLATO’s auditory disk was used to verbalize words and phrases which were then converted into touch patterns through a sensory aid. The students “learned that ‘new language’ of time-varying vibration patterns” and was then checked by PLATO for feedback and responses (Bitzer). The flexibility of its hardware and adaptability of its software opened new approaches in this area. Another application to PLATO is for teaching people who are blind. This can be made possible because “the computer reads the written text normally displayed on the computer terminal by speaking through a voice synthesizing unit,” making it possible for a blind user to interact with a computer in an efficient way (Bitzer). Lastly, since the PLATO system had a number of extra keys with different functions to control the computer compared to a normal one, a design to enhance PLATO was a seven key device called a Perkins Brailler. It was evident that “with this device, there was no question as to the ability of most students to operate it with ease” (Weber). In designing an educational system, a major portion of the work naturally had to come from the social sciences.

Even though PLATO may not be as efficient as a teacher, “computerized teaching machines should be looked at as tools to alleviate the shortage of teachers for the blind” (Weber). Many online platforms offer education such as Khan Academy, but won’t be much help to a blind student who cannot see the screen display. The major difference between PLATO and other online frameworks is accessibility because students are very limited to options on the PLATO system. Another difference is that since there were many bugs about the system, a student from the hardware-software group who could control the computer through a standard keyset, would watch over the blind student to ensure that the errors could be corrected.

Week 07 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Drafting Interview Questions

a. Have you ever used any online learning environments/platforms? If so then which ones and in what capacity? (eg. Student, Educator, Administrator, etc.)

b. How do you think your educational experience would change if you were to shift your studies to completely offline without access to such platforms?

c. What are some offline study experiences that you think cannot be replicated in online study platforms?

d. Are you currently a student, if not what year were you one, and what kind of technology did you use at that time to aid in studies at the University?

e. Do you think your attention is better grasped if the class uses interaction technology such as the i-Clicker, etc , why? or do you prefer some other kind of classroom experience.

f. Have you ever faced difficulties studying because the course had technology components, if so what were the issues you faced?

g. What kinds of changes do you imagine in educational technology in the near future?

h. Do you think the COVID pandemic study experience would have been different had there not been educational technologies like Moodle present? How?

i. Do you think technology can completely replace the need for human teaching, do you think it is the right path to move forward in?

For people who are in position to answer questions about specific platforms there will be 2-3 more questions about the platforms.

Identify Interviewees and Survey Distribution Leads

J. Stephen Downie – Assistant Dean for Research at the i-School UIUC

Andreas Paul Eberhard Kloeckner – Assistant Professor at CS@Illinois (Founder of RELATE)

Gabrielle Allen – Associate Dean for Research at DELTA UIUC

Kristen Allen –  Illinois Distributed Museum Coordinator

Reading Response

Applications or design features of PLATO –

a. offering coursework (elementary through university) to UIUC students, local schools, prison inmates, and other universities

b.  The system included a number of features useful for pedagogy, including text overlaying graphics, contextual assessment of free-text answers, depending on the inclusion of keywords, and feedback designed to respond to alternative answers.

c. On a pro grammar instructional system for blind students. The students soon recognized the potential of the PLATO system for this type of study. The hardware used in the conventional PLATO system consists of a keyset which the student uses to “talk” to the computer and a display screen which the computer uses to “talk” to the student.

d. In PLATO IV Plasma Display Screens. The display was a 512×512 bitmap, with both character and vector plotting done by hardwired logic. It included fast vector line drawing capability.

e. An experiment was conducted to demonstrate the feasibility of using toe teaching computer as a medium for involving people in community planning. The research described was conducted using the Platodsyotem at the Computerbased Education Research Laboratory at UIUC.

Differences between PLATO and Modern Educational Technology Services –

a. Mobility – PLATO was a combination of Hardware and Software, it was a big machine that could not be carried everywhere. On the other hand with the advent of smartphones, tablets and laptops, education technology is much more mobile and can be undertaken at convenience anywhere.

b. Accessibility – There were a limited number of devices available and were not accessible to students all the time. On the other hand with personal tech devices and availability of software on all those devices, using tech is much more simpler.

c. Information Scale – Since PLATO was the first of its kind collaborative platform and came at a time when the internet also did not exist, there was limited information available on it, only the amount that was created and stored by the PLATO community. But with the internet, the information reach is much more wide and vast.

Week 07 – Lab Reflection + Reading Response

Part 1: Lab – Ethical Research and Best Practices

1b.) Archives

This first source will help me in my research because it provides me with the relationship between the United States military and the University of Illinois. The source also establishes the history of the United States Army school.

The second source goes through the different replies given by 16,500 former University of Illinois students that were a part of the armed forces. The questionnaire focuses on the students’ plans after their return from the war and their recommendations.

The final source discusses the history of the military department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The source also talks about the history of the ROTC and other branches of the military that are at the University of Illinois.

1c.) Interview Questions

  1. What is a day like as an ROTC student balancing other responsibilities such as school?
  2. Why did you decide to join the ROTC?
  3. Were you contacted by recruiters in high school? If so who?
  4. What are your future plans after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?
  5. Are you a part of any military-related organizations or RSOs? If so, which one?
  6. Do you struggle in school or relationships because of your commitment as an ROTC student?
  7. How often do you go to the Armory? Any classes in the building?
  8. Do you have any scholarships because of your commitment to ROTC?

1d.) Identify Interviewees & Survey Distribution Leads

  1. Ezequiel Barraza – Treasurer – Army ROTC Cadet Council
  2. Peter Villanova – Public Relations Director – Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps
  3. Jacob Smith – Primary Contact – The National Society of Pershing Rifles
  4. Kavya Vedurmudi – Secretary – Arnold Air Society

Part 2: Reading Response

One of the five different applications was the design of PLATO IV. PLATO IV was able to run thousands of terminals that were located away from the central computer and had a transmission rate of 1,200 bits/second (Bitzer 555). This gave students more access to information miles away from the central computer. Another application the PLATO system had was its interactive mode. A quick response time of 1/10 of a second is due to the storing of data in the extended core memory of the system (Bitzer 555). This makes the processes efficient and faster. The third design involves its ability to communicate with students that have disabilities. The PLATO system would ask the handicapped student questions and accurately determine if their answers are correct (Weber 17). The fourth design helped blind students use the PLATO system. The PLATO system had a software that changed the video output to an audio output by converting audio analog words into bits (Weber 18). For the final design, the abacus was incorporated into the PLATO System. The student would be given a problem, if they got it correct, they would move on to a more advanced question, if not, they will get a more simplified version (Weber 20). This provided the blind students with strategies that used the basic four arithmetic operations.

One of the biggest differences between the PLATO system and modern online platforms such as Khan Academy and Youtube is accessibility. The PLATO system required a computer that used the system and had a limit distance from the main computer. Online platforms have the promises of accessing the information from any place in the world as long as there is a good internet connection. Another difference between the online platforms and the PLATO system are their libraries of information. Khan Academy has numerous lectures ranging from math to history.