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June 30, 2015
Center for Online Innovation in Learning

Penn State’s Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) has announced it will fund seven new projects through its Research Initiation Grant program.

The goal of the grant program is to provide seed money for Penn State researchers to gather preliminary evidence in the hope of pursuing external funding for larger studies that enhance teaching and learning through online innovation.

The following faculty members and graduate students have received grants for their projects from COIL’s spring 2015 round of funding:


April 23, 2015
Teens who are exposed to minimal risks can, over time, develop coping strategies and be more resilient as new, more risky situations arise.

SEOUL, Korea -- Boosting teenagers' ability to cope with online risks, rather than trying to stop them from using the Internet, may be a more practical and effective strategy for keeping them safe, according to a team of researchers.

In a study, more resilient teens were less likely to suffer negative effects even if they were frequently online, said Haiyan Jia, post-doctoral scholar in information sciences and technology.


April 8, 2015
Bitcoin, a peer-to peer online payment system that was conceived in 2008, has experienced considerable growth in popularity and increasingly has been adopted as a viable payment scheme in mainstream electronic commerce. Now researchers — including Jens Grossklags, an assistant professor at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology — are working to provide guidelines for ensuring that the currency remains long-term viable and trustworthy.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Bitcoin, a peer-to peer online payment system that was conceived in 2008, has experienced considerable growth in popularity and has increasingly been adopted as a viable payment scheme in mainstream electronic commerce. However, according to researchers, the decentralized and quasi-anonymous nature of Bitcoin renders it vulnerable to self-interested parties that seek to exploit the system.


March 31, 2015
St. Patrick's Day, 2015, brought a once-a-decade display of the aurora, here in "shamrock green."  Credit: NASA

Dance of the spirits, it's known by the Cree, one of North America's largest groups of Native Americans.

The phenomenon, called the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere, is indeed a dance of particles and magnetism between the sun and the Earth.


March 26, 2015
From left, Pamela Wisniewski, Haiyan Jia, and Jack Carroll, researchers at Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), are part of a team that is studying how different parental mediation strategies can help keep teens safe online. Image: Emilee Spokus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Many parents struggle with the age-old question of when to give their children the space to navigate their own lives and learn by trial and error, and when to take a more proactive role in guiding them to sound decisions. In recent years, the widespread use of social networking sites among teens has introduced a new set of privacy and safety threats. According to researchers at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), the ideal parental mediation strategy may be a combination of both approaches – taking some preventative measures without being too restrictive and taking reactive measures when teens put themselves at risk online.


March 26, 2015
IST researchers explore technology use in Syrian refugee camp

The Syrian Civil War has caused millions of citizens to flee their homeland, but many refugees have persevered and are seeking to rebuild their lives. Researchers at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) recently traveled to a thriving Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, where they surveyed people as part of a study they are conducting on how  the refugees are appropriating technology into their daily lives.

“Jordan is an interesting place in that it has been welcoming of refugees, first from Iraq and now from Syria,” said Carleen Maitland, an associate professor at the College of IST.


March 25, 2015
Modeling data: Using technology to predict fashion trends

In fashion, combining contrasting fabrics, colors and textures is what brings an outfit to life. In Heng Xu’s career, combining science and art has brought a new way of interpreting data to life — an innovation that might help consumers understand, follow and afford tomorrow’s fashion trends.

Xu, an associate professor of information sciences and technology at Penn State, is collecting and analyzing data to gain insight into the needs, motivations and behaviors of the fashion industry, retailers and consumers. Her ultimate goal is to help the average person follow the often fickle twists and turns of the fashion world.


March 17, 2015
Teens tend to disclose information online and then evaluate the consequences. The process is more experiential in nature than it is for adults, who consider the possible risks first.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- For every parent who ever wondered what the heck their teens were thinking when they posted risky information or pictures on social media, a team of Penn State researchers suggests that they were not really thinking at all, or at least were not thinking like most adults do.

In a study, the researchers report that the way teens learn how to manage privacy risk online is much different than how adults approach privacy management. While most adults think first and then ask questions, teens tend to take the risk and then seek help, said Haiyan Jia, post-doctoral scholar in information sciences and technology.


February 19, 2015
Vasant Honavar, professor and Edward Frymoyer Chair at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is directing a new interdisciplinary center that seeks to maximize the potential of big data.

The explosive growth in big data has enabled researchers and scientists in many fields to harness information that has the potential to change the way governments, organizations, and academic institutions conduct business and make discoveries. The massive amounts of data that are being generated, however, require sophisticated algorithms, techniques and software tools to make that information useful. A new interdisciplinary center at Penn State seeks to leverage the talents of researchers across the University as part of a joint effort to maximize the potential of big data.


February 16, 2015
Gaius Aileo, 7 years old, beta tests the project's game on an iPad. Image: Nathan Aileo

The children file into the Penn State nutrition lab before taking their seats and being handed a tablet. A research assistant helps them turn the devices on and power up a game they’re asked to play while the researchers look on. The kids guide their characters through the digital world -- across platforms and into the air to collect items.

But it wasn’t Mario or Luigi they guided to collect coins. Instead, the children helped their characters -- and by extension, themselves -- choose between healthy and unhealthy foods.


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