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Joy of Sharing Attracts Author to Connexions

Joy of Sharing Attracts Author to Connexions

In 2003 Davide Rocchesso was searching the Internet for signal processing content and browsing sites that talked about free publishing and Creative Commons when he discovered Connexions. Davide, an associate professor of Computer Science at the University of Verona, Italy, decided that Connexions was where he wanted to publish material for his classes. Several advantages of Connexions appealed to Davide, including the availability of MathML for formulas and equations, the ability to include various types of media, the ease of generating PDF files for printing, the possibility to build on someone else’s content, and the joy of sharing.

“I see Connexions as a sophisticated, indexed and search-able repository of materials, including text, mathematics, pictures, applets, etc.,” said Davide. “It is very handy to have all of these things accessible under a common framework, especially when I consider that my own work gets nicely integrated with other authors' work, and we can share content under a Creative Commons license.”

Davide’s first publication in Connexions was the module “Delays and Effects”. “I consider it as a test,” he said. “I took a chapter from my free book Introduction to Signal Processing and, with help from a student, I verified that Connexions is suitable for publishing that kind of content. Only later, when I was offered to teach a new class, I decided to base all my lecture notes on Connexions. So, together with my collaborator, Pietro Polotti, we started putting together the course ‘Media Processing in Processing’. It is a collection of modules aiming at teaching the basics of image, graphic, and sound processing to students who do not have deep skills in mathematics (typically, art and design students). Examples and problems are developed using the Processing language and environment.”

How did Davide’s students react to his use of Connexions? Davide said, “They appreciate having the lecture notes readily available with updates and corrections, with many hyperlinks, source code, and applets directly available from the online modules”. And he added, “To prepare for the exam, they like to study on the PDF printouts”.

Outside of the classroom Davide presented his recent teaching activities to colleagues in Copenhagen, Denmark. “I did that by showing the module ‘Teaching Media Processing in Processing’,” he said. “I think the audience appreciated how neat a Connexions-based presentation can be, as a module can be an annotated and hierarchical organization of links to other modules, examples, and non-Connexions material available on the web. This makes presentations really interactive. I haven't had the chance to present the Connexions system itself yet, but I think I will give a seminar in my department in the near future. Since there are several other souls interested in sharing knowledge, it is likely that it will spur interest.”

Davide plans to continue publishing content in Connexions. His next project is a collection of modules on some topics in interaction design. Looking toward the future Davide said, “Many people start to realize that PowerPoint slides are cumbersome and often ineffective. Students like to be engaged with demonstrations and cross-links, and appreciate seeing that the teacher is part of a community that shares knowledge. At the same time, they like to read and study something that looks like a real book.” He added, “In countries where English is not the main language, a real boost in the popularity of Connexions will come from the availability of a system for preparing translations and multi-lingual versions of modules. I know that this is being pursued by the Connexions developers and I look forward for such developments.”

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