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The Zecosystem: Cyberinfrastructure Education and Discovery for the Next Generation

Speaker  Krishna P.C. Madhavan

Affiliation  Purdue University

Host  Dan Fay

Duration  00:44:22

Date recorded  7 October 2005

Learning experiences of the future will be multi-sensory, engage technologies and significant computational power continuously and invisibly, and will be completely engaging. The Zecosystem will offer cyber-services that incorporate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts into the students’ everyday experiences seamlessly. Through this project, we expect to transform common day-to-day student activities such as gaming, eating at the cafeteria, or visiting the library into learning experiences. Our vision is to develop a Cyberinfrastructure Education Ecosystem where learning co-exists with students’ lifestyles, technology choices, and emerging national cyberinfrastructure. To this end, we will leverage significant on-going R&D in computational infrastructure, middleware, and science gateways funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other industrial partners at Purdue University.

Our goal is to leverage the national cyberinfrastructure effort for day-to-day discovery and learning practices. Given the emergence of highly cross-disciplinary areas such as nanotechnology, bioinformatics, and computational science as critical for scientific progress, teaching and learning at colleges and universities can no longer be locked behind computational walls. Furthermore, several national reports have identified the dire need to train and develop the next generation of students to take up careers in science, technology, and engineering. We strongly believe that in order to reach the current generation of students—the aptly labeled Gen-Z—information technology needs to be at the heart of educational efforts and play more than an add-on role. Simply put, we need to rethink education ground-up.

The goal of the first phase of the project is to develop a robust set of Cyberinfrastructure (CI) Education Services that will extend the capabilities of existing and emerging science gateways such as the nanoHUB to a mobile environment. We are developing a series of web services that plug into middleware and infrastructure layers currently being developed and deployed at Purdue University. These services will be made available to the larger scientific and education community, while simultaneously consumed to develop new cutting-edge CI-services focused and tailored at students. This project will allow students to deploy large computational jobs to the national cyberinfrastructure from their cell phones, PDAs, gaming environments, and other mobile devices.

In this talk, we will focus on the vision of the Zecosystem and provide concrete arguments that are derived both from a scientific discovery, as well as from the pedagogical viewpoints. We will also provide examples of various project elements that are already in progress. In many cases, the prototypes are expected to be ready by the end of the coming academic year. All of the projects, which will be highlighted, are either funded by large NSF grants or by support from our industrial partners.

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