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Eighth week (01/02~01/08) Temperature -2~-10℃

Although year 2010 just coming, a lot of works and courses have
been in line and waited for me to complete. Therefore, I would write
more on my study and research experiences in this month. In fact, I
shared many wonderful life experiences in last two months and now
I would like to focus on my own tasks.

AU’s 2010 winter courses started on 2nd January. It’s my first time
using learning management systems (LMS). The system has friendly
user interface and I can quickly get familiar with it. Nevertheless,
the learning difficulty is still there and not disappears because it is
learning online. Every course has high quality and grading standard,
has three to four assignments in three-month semester. In most of
courses, we need to finish and submit one assignment per month
and to do a project at the end of the course. All assignments have
penalty for late submission to force we finishing it on time. In
addition, the LMS has independent forums for every week, so that
students can post their questions and discuss their ideas by
following the course timetable. I think such well-planned learning
system is quite good.

As a foreign student, my very first task is to get used with the


instruction ways here by participating discussion forums often and
discussing review questions with my peer fellows constantly. Dr.
Chang gave us some tips about studying in AU. First, we should
manage our time well to follow the course schedule on a weekly
basis. Otherwise, the course loading would become heavy. Second,
we should post our thoughts and discuss relevant issues in the
forums as much as we can. The participation is always counted
when the instructor is grading and the discussions also can improve
our writing and thinking skills. Third, we should try to make friends
in the course forums. Most of the students are full-time employees
but they study hard, we can learn a lot from them.

I will need to attend iCORE project’s monthly group meeting on


January 15 and do a progress presentation on that day. But I still
have a big delay against my planned schedule and need to catch
up. Dr. Chang gives me a lot of suggestions and revises my
presentation slides again and again. The most important thing I
have learned is the attitudes, i.e. we need to prepare presentation
slides, system demonstration, screen shots, and video clips well, so
that we can avoid any possible accident happens during our
presentation.

To sum up, everything has started and I need to wind up for my


courses and research. I think how to spend time efficiently is a
critical factor to success.
Ninth week (01/09~01/15) Temperature 0~-9℃

The weather is so good recently. I don’t need to wear many clothes


when I go out. This week I still focus on doing research and
preparing my Friday’s presentation. My research topic is “story-
based context-awareness role playing learning activity generation,”
Dr. Chang and I discuss a lot including the database design, system
model, learning objects, agent development, and so on, in our
weekly research meeting.

We hope to construct ubiquitous learning systems that can generate


a series of story-based quests to player according their locations
and situations. Meanwhile, the system is agents-based and has
characteristics such as flexible, expansible, and so forth. This
research topic is interesting, although I have so many functions and
sub-systems needed to implement.

After we worked and revised the presentation slides many times,


iCORE monthly group meeting was coming. The meeting was held at
12th floor of ELC (AU Edmonton Learning Centre) and utilized
teleconference system and online meeting software for research
associates who not live in Edmonton, e.g. Vancouver and even
overseas. The participants included Dr. Kinshuk who is the chair of
our iCORE project, eight professors who are subproject leaders,
some overseas professors and research associates, and Ph. D and
Master students who work on their thesis or act as research
assistants like me and William. This meeting started at 9:00 AM and
ended at 5:00 PM, it took whole day due to every members were
asked to report their progress and works. William and I presented
our projects which are under Dr. Tan’s and Dr. Chang’s supervision.

It was a very good experience to do a presentation in a formal


meeting. Both of us learned a lot from others’ presentations.
Nevertheless, we could do better if we practiced much more before
the meeting, especially in talking about the research details and
responding to others’ questions. In addition, we were quite quiet
during others’ presentations. These shortcomings are needed to be
corrected for improving our presentation’s quality and confidence.

To conclude, this week is exciting because the group meeting. The


meeting let me understand how to do a good presentation and
collaborate with people from different countries. Although we still
have heavy loadings from both research and courses, I do believe
we can overcome these challenge step by step.

Torch of Winter Olympics 2010 arrived at Edmonton on Jan.


13.

It’s very touching when the torch arrived, and then


thousands of the citizens sang the anthem and celebrated
this proud day (for them).
William’s presentation in iCORE group meeting
Tenth week (1/16 - 1/22) Temperature -6~-15℃

After the iCORE monthly group meeting, I don’t have too much time
to rest because there are tons of course materials and assignments
that I need to read and finish. Thus, I focus on our courses this
week. As I mentioned before, every courses has three to four
assignment in the three-month period. These assignments could be
a two thousands word essay, or article reading and discussion, or
build a website to introduce specific topic, or develop systems. I get
writing experiences when I do my assignments. The assignments
are heavy but are also very good training.

There are two assignments from my two courses, COMP601 and


COMP689. COMP 601 is “Survey of Computing and Information
Systems”. Its first assignment, TME1 (Tutor Marked Exercise), is
conducting a short essay. The report expanding one of the three
integration themes introduced in unit 0 of first week. The three
themes are “Integrating the organization”, “Integrating the IT
resource”, and “Integrating technology”. Students need to search
and study relevant materials for the theme they chose. It is similar
to our course, Principle of Manage Information Systems, in Taiwan,
isn’t it?

COMP689 is “Advanced Distributed Systems”. Its TME1 asks me to


read two IEEE conference’s papers regarding “Location-based
systems” and “Pervasive computing”. After read the papers, I need
to discuss some questions made-up in advance by the instructor
with my peers and analyze these technologies according to the
principle introduced in the textbook, and then conduct a six- to ten-
page report. In this course, all students need to do a final project
and it should be a distributed system. Fortunately, my research
topic and system design can be counted as a distributed system due
to my system has features like multi-agent system and location
based service. I think those are my advantages to complete the TME
and the final project because I am doing the project since last
December.

I think I am very lucky because I can concentrate on my tasks and


learn what I want to know without worrying too much, e.g. financial
issue. However, time goes by so fast and I need to spend my time
well to enhance my professional knowledge in shortly one year.
Eleventh week (1/23-1/29) Temperature -9~-17℃

Although it is snowing every day since January 20, in most of time


we study at home hence we don’t really care about the weather.
This week William has done a big task which delays his other works.

William worked with his supervisor, Dr. Tan, to conduct a paper


regarding their research and submitted to IEEE ICALT 2010
conference. This conference’s acceptance rate is around 25% for full
paper. No matter what result he would receive, it was a very good
trial to him. After he submitted the paper, he started to catch up his
assignments as what I was doing last week. So he really worked
hard, please don’t blame him for the missing “life record”.

This week I continually revise my assignments because the due date


is coming. On the other hand, for my research, I try to re-design the
database from more comprehensive thinking viewpoint. Meanwhile,
I constantly search and read academic papers relevant to my
research. Dr. Chang has an online research forum and hosts online
group research meeting every week. In the forum, students and
supervisors have collected hundreds of important academic papers
of different research domains. Therefore, I pick some papers about
“Knowledge awareness map” and prepare slides for my presentation
in the group research meeting next month.

When I am free, sometimes Dr. Chang takes us to grocery stores to


purchase foods and stuffs. He is awesome because he always knows
which store has cheapest stuffs or has specials on sale. We can buy
the same meat with $3~5 dollar difference in prices from different
stores. My life style is simple and joyful now. One of my personal
interesting is cooking, and I have a lot of adventures in developing
new recipes, i.e. cooking differently with the same ingredients.

To conclude, this month is still busy and full of challenges. These


tasks not only sharpen my professional skills but also give me a lot
of experiences. I will have more tasks in February, but I do believe
that I can do better. Of course, I need to manage my time well and
prepare everything in advance.