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New Learning Tool Assessed in Purdue Forensic Science Program
​by Steve TallyPurdue News Service
Advanced Forensics class using new DoubleTake iPhone app

A mobile application that allows Purdue University students to submit videos to fulfill classroom assignments is now available from the Apple iTunes App Store and as a website.


DoubleTake is available to Purdue students and staff and will eventually be made available to other institutions.


"Our goal is to make videos as easy to use in the classroom as traditional papers," says Kyle Bowen, director of informatics for Information Technology at Purdue.


Invisible to students and faculty, the app actually connects the users' smartphones to a scientific distributed computing network, DiaGrid, which is composed of more than 30,000 computers. Encoding of the videos is done on the computer grid in near real-time.


"This gives students the equivalent of a movie-studio sized render farm that they can access from the smartphone in their pocket," Bowen says.


With DoubleTake, students can produce, submit and view video assignments from their mobile phones or by uploading the video from a video camera to a website. Instructors can use DoubleTake to make video assignments and manage and grade submitted student videos. Videos can be assessed within DoubleTake by using a set of criteria, or rubric, by either the instructor or by other students in a peer-evaluation exercise. Instructors can then add the videos to an online learning management system such as Blackboard or Sakai.


An Android app will be available within weeks, and the application may soon begin appearing on other college campuses.


DoubleTake is the latest in a series of educational tools developed at Purdue that use information technology to enhance the traditional classroom. Previously released technologies include Signals (now being distributed nationally as CourseSignals by SunGard); HotSeat, which captures Twitter and text messages related to a class; and Mixable, which allows students to create private study groups within Facebook.


Ralph Williams, professor of entomology, has used DoubleTake in an advanced criminal forensics class. In the class, student teams recorded themselves performing the proper techniques to do plaster footprint molds at a mock crime scene.


"It's all about teaching the students, and DoubleTake is another means to improve the teaching of the students, which is what I like about it," Williams says. "It's really good for lab-based courses, especially for lab-based courses that included student group projects. It adds another dimension in the assessment of student performance."


DoubleTake also is being used to teach American Sign Language at Purdue. Continuing lecturer Jill Lestina uses DoubleTake so students can demonstrate the signing skills they've learned in class.


Lestina says ease of use is the reason she recommends DoubleTake.


"It's so much easier to upload and submit the video than when using learning management systems," she says. "Also, it's easier to use for grading."


Lestina says the app is popular with students as well.


"They can simply click on the 'upload video' button and submit. It's similar to YouTube, which most of them know how to use."