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Overview. As a pointy-headed university professor, my weekend project of bridge photography and building these web pages generated many questions and introduced me to just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Learning usually requires repetition while forgetting occurs when I infrequently use information. Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. Weekly visits to the bridge provided the repetition necessary to detect changes in the bridge and consequently generated many questions and opportunities for learning. Over the course of the bridge project, I had access to few experts for answering questions. Rather than a liability, this became an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I found that answers to questions encountered during my weekly photo shoots were often only a Google-search away - (see Restoring the Joy in Learning). Consequently Google + Internet became dependable extensions of my memory.

The bridge story is a work in progress and is evolving from a simple collections of photographs to an experiment with Internet-centric just-in-time learning. Insights I gain from you will find their way into the learning centers of MUSC. Palmetto Bridge Constructors, a joint venture between Tidewater Skanska and Flatiron Constructors, as well as High Steel Structures, Freyssinet, the SCDOT and the Federal Highway Commission Office of Bridge Technology guided much of my learning. I also learn from many of you and from Google-linked resources. More important is the e-mail encouragement I receive from many of you.

Sun, 29 May 2005

May 29, 2005: Learning from the bridge and the Internet

Our new Cooper River Bridge is a great motivator for learning. That said, Google + the Internet are great resources for both learning and for remembering. (If you see a disconnect, visit the forgetting curve.) Earlier this week I faced the challenge of learning how to stitch photos together in order to make a panoramic presentation. The results (see below) were ok, but the junction of the images was apparent, particularly the junction of the left image and its neighbor. Since this is Charleston, 2nd class results are simply not acceptable, so I faced another challenge - how to improve the blend between the images.

Last week, I found an open source program hugin - a Panorama Tools GUI available from Sourceforge. Last night, I started my search with Google and found a link to another Sourceforge offering, Enblend, as well as a tutorial about blending exposures using Gimp. I visited the enblend web site and sure enough, there was both an example, based on Hugin, which I used last week to build the panoramic image as well as the code for computing the blended image. So I downloaded the code, and another surprise, it compiled without an error. I then followed the instructions and created the above result. Needless to say, I was grinning from ear to ear.

A word about open source software. I have been associated with open source resources since I obtained our Unix license at Duke in 1974. Although open source software is often called free software, it requires some effort to build, integrate and use. Richard Stallman, a champion of the open source movement, prefers that the term, free, refer to the personal liberty that is associated with the use of open source software and not its cost.

These bridge web pages reflect the freedom and liberty associated with being able to access and integrate open source software in producing a result. For example, my web server software is Apache and my desktop system runs Fedora Linux. At the application level, Gimp is my image processing tool, now joined by ImageMagick, Enblend and Hugin.

posted at: 16:12 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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