The One Click Solution

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What is it about the Staples easy button that makes it so marketable? Is it simply that we (people) want things to be easy?


Since 2003, Staples has used its trademarked easy button for a successful marketing campaign. Staples wants you to remember it as the one click solution for all of your office supplies. In essence, when you think of Staples, you should equate it with easy shopping for office supplies.


Recently in education, there is a push towards data driven decision-making. We want educators to make curricula decisions, teaching decisions, and even classroom management decisions based on theory AND data. Data on the teacher-student and student-student interactions must be collected and analyzed. However, the accumulation and interpretation of data takes time and effort. Add data recording, editing, and analyzing to the already busy schedule, teaching load and research requirements of the professor, and it seems like an uphill battle for the professor to find enough time to gather the data to make these data driven decisions. Educators need a one click solution for data collection and analysis.


On March 23, 2011, a few representatives from Microsoft's Education department visited campus and met with Penn State representatives in the efforts of teaching and learning with technology. Among the representatives from Microsoft were Cameron Evans, Microsoft's Education chief technology officer and Allyson Knox, Academic Program Manager for Microsoft's US Partners in Learning program. During our time with Cameron and Allyson among others, the Krause Innovation Studio staff discussed possible avenues and ways to partner and collaborate with Microsoft to develop one click solutions to current educational problems.


As the conversation developed, Dr. Kyle Peck, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory and the Aerospace Education Services Project at Penn State and friend of the Krause Innovation Studio, suggested partnering with Microsoft to develop a one click solution for data collection and analysis in the college classroom. Kyle recommended creating "software that can pull in four flip cameras" and synchronize the timing of the video and audio to create an easy solution for professors. I found out later that Penn State is already testing a similar system that coordinates multiple cameras (angles) and microphones and collects the data onto a flash drive. At the beginning of the lesson/lecture, the instructor inserts a flash drive into the computer and clicks on record (a one click solution)! Immediately following the conclusion of the lesson/lecture, the instructor stops the recording and the data is synchronized and saved on the flash drive, ready to take back to his/her office for analysis purposes.


After Kyle introduced the idea of a one click solution to digital records of practice, Cameron Evans added an innovative idea - using the Kinect software and hardware available on Microsoft's Xbox 360 to "read the temperature of the classroom." Cameron added that the system needs to be "passive, with no responsibility for the teacher." A guerrilla video type system - video recording that involves multiple views/angles and microphones on teacher and on student activities - as opposed to the traditional, back of the classroom surveillance video type system, could add enough detail to enable the professor to understand the learning as it occurs. However, considering the magnitude of space needed to save multiple camera angles, audio feeds, and sensory input (Kinect), it might not be possible to save all synchronized data onto a flash drive, unless that flash drive was rather large in storage space. No, instead of a flash drive, the one click solution could include a cloud computing storage solution to enable access from any computer - both the professor's office and home computers. 

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