158799 Research Project - Possible Topics 2009

Note that you can choose your own topic, but also you need a supervisor, so they have to be interested in the topic. The list below are the topics each supervisor is definitely interested in, though generally each supervisor will take only 2-3 projects, and it is first come first served.

Animating heritage objects

Dave Wilton ( d.r.wilton@massey.ac.nz ) and Tony Richardson (t.s.richardson@massey.ac.nz)

Heritage informatics is an emerging IS research area and involves the application of IT to assist in the preservation and presentation of heritage objects. (Dave Wilton has a 20 min Powerpoint presentation which outlines this in more detail.) One of the current topics involves investigation of techniques/technologies that can be used to simulate, or animate, heritage objects (or events) to make them more real for observers, and hence add value to what may be a potential heritage tourist attraction. This is not new; however, simulations developed to date have tended to take a long time and cost a lot of money. This project will investigate and report on various IT methods and/or applications that can be used to develop such simulations quickly and cheaply, and to build a prototype. The heritage object we have in mind is the building and operation of a kauri logging dam, used to drive kauri logs out of the bush, but this is negotiable. There is plenty of reference material on kauri dams available, and there is a working model dam near Thames which can also be observed.

Collaborative Design with Mobile Devices

Dave Parsons, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

Mobile systems can be used for collaborative work. This study would focus on the use of mobile phones for collaborative software design, based on the Class Responsibility Collaboration (CRC) design technique. The work would involve the development of a mobile phone based tool (probably written using Java Micro Edition) that could support such a collaborative design exercise. Evaluation of the system would include comparing user experiences with a more traditional approach to CRC based design.

A Computer Simulation of Social Interaction

Brian Whitworth and Chris Scogings, bwhitworth@acm.org

Based current Predator-Prey simulations developed in C++, the student would add a social cooperation rule - that neighbors can cooperate, i.e. if both contribute this increases the chance of success, but they must also share the gains. This extends Darwin's "survival of the fittest" to apply also to cooperation, as individuals who work together may be more "fit" than those that compete. This research would compare the performance of "cooperatives" with "individualists". It would also look at evolutionary trends in societies which have different rations of individualistic "criminals" and cooperative "citizens". Of interest is the occurrence of social synergy - when individuals produce more as a social group than they do as separate individuals. It would also simulate the prisoner's dilemma, where one individual cheats another - taking social benefits but not contributing to them. This could simulate social collapse as well as social formation

Field study vs. Laboratory study

Hokyoung Ryu H.Ryu@massey.ac.nz

Field test is very different from the controlled environment used during usability laboratory testing, where tasks are set and completed in an orderly way. Instead, field tests are messy in the sense that activities often overlap and are constantly interrupted. A common belief held by many mobile HCI researchers is that mobile interfaces need to be tested in the field, by which the field test can reveal realistic usability problems grounded in the relevant contexts, as opposed to the context-independent laboratory test. Despite these sound qualities of field testing, comparison of laboratory and field usability tests have shown little difference in results in terms of finding design flaws (Kaikkonen, Kekäläinen, Cankar, Kallio, and Kankainen, 2005), which may indicate that the field study that quite often consumes additional time and money should be a supplemental rather than the primary usability testing tactic. Having said that these two perspectives have their own solid basis, this project empirically demonstrates the differences and conceptual reasons behind these two opposite claims. Students who would like to join this research activity are highly required to have good understandings of Human-Computer Interaction, at least testing with users.

IT for the New Generation

Rosemary Stockdale r.j.stockdale@massey.ac.nz

There have been a number of reports recently criticizing the lack of a formal IT curriculum in schools, which impacts on the level of IT skills in the country’s workforce. Currently, the ability of school leavers to use IT is heavily dependent on their own interest in the subject area and their ability to teach themselves computing skills. This makes it difficult for schools to understand how they can improve the ICT skills of their students and address the accompanying need for social and security awareness within the school community.

This proposed research project investigates the levels of IT skills of intermediate level school children. The research will examine schoolchildren’s use of IT from software packages to Internet use. An Auckland Intermediate School is keen to be the case study for this project, which is intended to involve parents, students and staff at the school. This project is an early stage in a larger research project that aims to gain an understanding of the issues and challenges regarding the teaching and use of IT in schools.

To undertake this project you will need some knowledge of the NZ school system and the ability to work with staff members and parents at the school. Good English and an interest in IT education are also required to undertake interviews and surveys with the stakeholders.

Measuring Learning Performance in Mobile Learing

Hokyoung Ryu H.Ryu@massey.ac.nz

A key assumption of mobile learning is that its built-in experiences will be enjoyable and proactive, empowering the user with the knowledge and ability to self-manage. This implies that the benefits and critical success factors of mobile learning are not based on learning performance alone. To empirically demonstrate this premise, this project takes on the concept of “flow experience” in the different learning spaces. Students who would like to join this research activity are highly required to have good understandings of informal interview and focus group study.

Measuring Software Politeness

Brian Whitworth, bwhitworth@acm.org - - Maha Osman

There has been a lot of interest in recent papers on “Polite Computing”, see Politeness as a Social Software Requirement, Int. J. of Virtual Communities and Social Networking, 1(2), 65-84, April-June 2009. The goal of this project is to review current literature on the subject, to make a list of current practices, and to develop these into a measure of software politeness. according to software type. The research would ask people which of these software practices annoys them. The project could involve setting up a web site to gather feedback and analysing the data to identifiy politeness "dimenions". The web site would consist of links, screen examples and feedback mechanisms.

Mobile Clients to Virtual Worlds

Dave Parsons, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

A number of mobile clients have been developed for virtual worlds. It would be interesting to see what the value of these might be, how effective they are in practice, and in particular how we might build and utilise a mobile client to Project Wonderland.

Myki - an online author feedback system

Brian Whitworth, bwhitworth@acm.org

Wikis allow everyone to be an author, so everything is owned by everyone, but they don't address the case where authors want to own their writing, but still welcome reader feedback. A Myki would be a system where author(s), perhaps well known or famous, explicitly own published content, but still invite others to participate in its evolution by commenting or amending. In such a system, those who contribute accepted modifications would own their word contributions. Such "mini-contributions" would be a % of the final work, e.g. a publication where 90% of the work is by a main author, but 100 other people contributed the remaining 10%. The student would inevestigate current wiki, blog and other online group writing technologies, and select one to amend into a prototype for this new socio-technical form. A current student is working on socio-technical feedback for electronic repositories and their work may be useful. The research will then assess how people respond to such a system.

An Online Information Shopping Cart

Supervisor:  Brian Whitworth, bwhitworth@acm.org

An Online Information Shopping Cart is an online shopping version of a wiki, where instead of Edit buttons users see "Add to my Information Cart" buttons. Pressing the buttons adds that idea text to their "Information Shopping Cart". When the user "Checks Out" they see what they have added, and can rearrange or delete, then save to their hard disk, copy to the clipboard, or email it to themselves. This project would begin reviewing systems that allow people to access online resources, whether text, links, pictures, music or video. An example use is to gather links from a site. The student would then develop a prototype to evaluate. This could be done by modifying a wiki like the Research Roadmap. The advantage of this appraoach is that users can easily copy html text and web links into their current documents while browsing a wiki like the Research Roadmap, e.g. in an email being sent to someone. The evalution would decide how useful users found this functionality

Professional Mobile Learning – Curriculum Development

Dave Parsons, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

Developing a curriculum for a professional mobile learning system is different from developing a curriculum for a conventional classroom, or even for an e-learning system. It may involve blended learning, related to other forms of delivery. It certainly needs to target those areas of learning that can benefit from the mobile environment. This project would involve researching mobile curricula, particularly for professional learners, gathering requirements from an external client, and implementing a prototype system to demonstrate some key features of the curriculum. End user assessment would be a required component of the study.

Q pyramids—a new type of consumer survey

Supervisors:  Brian Whitworth (IT), John Grigor (Food, Nutrition and Human Health), Beatrix Jones (Statistics) bwhitworth@acm.org

The  typical consumer survey, where a respondent ticks a number on a scale from 1 to n indicating how strongly they agree with a particular statement, is both boring for respondents and suboptimal for researchers.  A serious drawback is that people differ in how strongly typically state their opinions, so some respondents tick only the most extreme responses, and others only the ‘middle’ responses.  In Q methodology, consumers consider statements selected by the researcher and build a pyramid, placing a small number of statements with which they most strongly agree or disagree at the outer corners, and a larger number of statements that they feel less strongly about in the centre.  Thus every respondent must select some statements they feel strongly about, and some they are less certain about.   Your task will be to build a web interface where researchers can load a set of statements, consumers can build their response pyramid, and researchers then extract the data from all respondents.   The interface must be attractive, fun, and straightforward for consumers to use.

For students interested in an interdisciplinary project, there is also scope to examine the best statistical methods for analyzing Q pyramid data, or to be involved in carrying out a food perception study using this methodology

A study of wireless network security vulnerabilities in NZ organizations

Dave Wilton (d.r.wilton@massey.ac.nz)

Description: There are significant security risks associated with the use of wireless networks: in particular, the potential loss of confidentiality arising from transmission of information “in clear” on a radio frequency (RF) channel. The propagation characteristics of RF mean that unencrypted, or inadequately encrypted, network traffic can be intercepted and read well outside an organisation’s business premises. This project will examine the vulnerability of typical NZ organizations, and the extent to which they apply appropriate counter-measures. A set of data that was obtained by “war driving” (i.e. interception of wireless network traffic by driving around the streets) in two NZ cities around 2003 is available as a basis of comparison of trends over time in NZ.

Tuning the Research Roadmap

Brian Whitworth

The Research Roadmap chunks elements of research advice, to help new researchers and their advisors, see http://researchroadmap.org/content/ However it was developed initially for use in IT, and not all the elements may apply to all disciplines and methods. The goal of this research is to see which elements apply to other disciplines and methods, statistical data analysis advice does not apply to qualitative methods. The student will first prepare a list of the different research methods used in other disciplines, then gather data from researchers in those disciplines, by interview or survey, to discover which elements apply and which dont. The student would then modify the RR Wiki so users could "tune" the roadmap to their discipline method, to automatically deselect or de-prioritize certain elements, while bringing others to the fore, both for writing and reviewing. This could be evaluated by comparing an adaptive Research Roadmap with the generic one.

Understanding spatial working memory in mobile Learning Design

This project will explore how learner’s working memory (in particular, spatial working memory) would be related to their learning performance (summative, formative and experiential) with mobile devices. Different types of mobile devices and learning scenarios (and situations) will be considered in answer to this question. Students who would like to join this research are highly required to have good understandings of statistical analyses and controlled experiments.

Hokyoung Ryu H.Ryu@massey.ac.nz

Utopia II

Brian Whitworth, bwhitworth@acm.org

In 2008 Vanessa Taylor successfully developed an online trading game called Utopia, to explore the social issues of online cheating and trust. We have the code, see this screenshot A student with the ability to program in PHP and an interest in online social issues is sought to further develop this system, and develop a measure of social health that can be displayed online as a monitor. It is part of the transparency approach to online community development. See http://brianwhitworth.com/social-environment-model.pdf for the concepts behind this research. You will develop new concepts to explain why people cheat online or not, by setting up an online system which allows this, and seeing what people do in it.

158799 Research Project - Possible Topics 2008

Note that you can choose your own topic, but also you need a supervisor , so they have to be interested in the topic. The list below are the topics each supervisor is definitely interested in, though generally each supervisor will take only two projects.

Dave Wilton

1. Project: Uptake of biometric identification and authentication information security techniques in NZ

Proposed by: Dave Wilton (d.r.wilton@massey.ac.nz)

Description: One of the most commonly-implemented information security mechanisms is user identification (UID) and authorization, and traditional techniques rely on what the user knows (e.g. alphanumeric UID and password). Biometric techniques rely on what the user is: e.g. retina scan, fingerprint. These have often been touted as the “new wave” of UID and authentication, but have tended not to have lived up to their promise. This project will investigate the adoption of biometric techniques in NZ organizations, and, where possible, compare the NZ situation with other countries.

2. Project: A study of wireless network security vulnerabilities in NZ organizations

Proposed by: Dave Wilton (d.r.wilton@massey.ac.nz)

Description: There are significant security risks associated with the use of wireless networks: in particular, the potential loss of confidentiality arising from transmission of information “in clear” on a radio frequency (RF) channel. The propagation characteristics of RF mean that unencrypted, or inadequately encrypted, network traffic can be intercepted and read well outside an organisation’s business premises. This project will examine the vulnerability of typical NZ organizations, and the extent to which they apply appropriate counter-measures. A set of data that was obtained by “war driving” (i.e. interception of wireless network traffic by driving around the streets) in two NZ cities around 2003 is available as a basis of comparison of trends over time in NZ.

Dr Tony Norris

1. Project: The Technology and Potential for High-end Computer Audio

Proposed by: Tony Norris (T.Norris@massey.ac.nz)

Description: The Compact Disc (CD) is now over 25 years old. When is first appeared in the early 1980s we were promised ‘Perfect sound forever’ but only in the last two or three years have designers begun to realise the full potential of the medium and overcome the digital artifacts such as glassy, hard treble, Jitter that smears transients, and other distortions that rob music of its soul and make its reproduction sound so artificial. These deficiencies are often lost on the public at large who prefer convenience to quality.

However, with the advent of computer audio in which the digitised music is streamed to the audio system from a computer disc we now have a method of improving upon CD quality with even greater convenience of use than the CD player. Even so, the foremost, current example of computer audio, the MP3 player, has taken the convenience route to its extreme and employed technologies that produce poor quality, compromised sound that quickly becomes tiring unless the listener thrives on the distorted sound that deliberately appears in much of popular music.

This project sets out to explore and compare the technologies that can be used to build high-quality audio (stereo) systems and to evaluate different approaches to the use of computers to facilitate the reproduction of very high-quality sound. The high-end segment will never be a large part of mainstream music playback and enjoyment so the project will also investigate the market potential for high-quality computer audio.

The project (PgDip) will appeal to students with an interest in music, popular, country, classical, jazz, who are dissatisfied with the constraints of their MP3 player and want to understand and overcome its limitations and listen to high fidelity sound. It will involve some practical work (equipment supplied) and some programming and familiarity with computer hardware and software concepts.

2. Project: Mobile Health and Chronic Disease Management

Proposed by: Tony Norris (t.norris@massey.ac.nz)

Description: The most serious health issue facing developed nations is the increase in chronic diseases that results from ageing populations and unhealthy lifestyles at all ages. These diseases reduce quality of life and impose an enormous cost burden on the nation. Because the diseases often have long development periods it is also difficult to raise public awareness of their serious consequences. The pervasiveness of mobile technologies offers a promising opportunity to raise awareness and help deliver convenient and cost-effective care. The main aim of this project is to obtain a better understanding of how mobile health (m-health) technologies can be exploited to improve awareness and to identify the critical success factors for successful and sustainable m-health applications. We might even be able to design a framework for m-health excellence. You do not need any clinical knowledge to enjoy this project but you do need a willingness to search the literature, an analytical approach, and an interest in interviewing people to elicit their views. The work builds on a recent successful master's project.

3. Project: The Healthcare Potential for RFID Technologies

Proposed by: Tony Norris (t.norris@massey.ac.nz)

Description: Radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies rely on tags containing silicon chips and antennae that can be used to locate objects they are attached to or to send and update information on the items. They find numerous applications in tracking items such as parcels, animals, or people. They can be thought of as "intelligent barcodes" Pilot studies in healthcare have used RFID tags to track patients as they move through various departments of a hospital or locate expensive surgical instruments and their status (eg, sterilised or not) but there have been no systematic studies of how such applications should be introduced and which ones are more likely to succeed and why. This project aims to understand the potential of RFID in healthcare and in particular how they can be used in the labelling, prescribing, and dispensing of drugs. The project will analyse case studies of RFID applications and produce guidelines for their successful use in healthcare. You don't need clinical or knowledge or software construction ability to do this project but you do have to be able to analyse data, extract key principles and draw valid conclusions. The project may attract external funding.

Dr Brian Whitworth

Project: Investigating online support for Massey University Auckland campus researchers
Proposed by: Brian Whitworth (B.Whitworth @massey.ac.nz)

This project involves developing the Research Roadmap Project which aims to offer online interactive support for thesis students and advisors. The core problem is that research can be conducted in many different ways for many different purposes, e.g. Qualitative; Quantitative; Delphi Method; Applied Research; Action research; Cartography; Case study; Classification; Experiments; Mathematical models; Participant observation; Simulation; Statistical analysis; Statistical surveys;  Ethnography; Focus Groups, etc The question raised then is whether one online support tools (the Research Roadmap) can serve all these different types of research. The goal of this project however is simply to gather, under supervision, data on the various research methods used by researchers at Massey University, Auckland campus, and to analyse that data for commonalities. This project will especially suite a student interested in carrying on to do a Masters or PhD, as they will learn a lot about different research methods used in Information Technology. It also requires someone good at dealing with people.

Dr Rosemary Stockdale

Project: Use of RFID Tags in Hospitals
Proposed by: Rosemary Stockdale, R.J.Stockdale@massey.ac.nz

There is a small but growing body of literature on the use of RFID tags for tracking surgical instruments within hospitals. However, current research remains piecemeal and does not yet address several key questions, both technical and social.

Consideration of technical restraints requires some examination of the difficulties involved in using tags in a hostile environment that involves such processes as sterilization and fluid immersion. From a socio-technical perspective, there are several questions that bear examination including what data could be gathered from tags, and what are the potential uses of such data (instrument tracking, sterilisation history, patient records, details of medical teams etc). Analysis of the potential extent of data collection matched against identified requirements would provide a basis for considerations of issues such as data management, quality and privacy. Also a matching of usefulness versus the costs involved, in both technical and data management development, would be advantageous.

Project: Online Communities (focus on chronic disease care)  
Proposed by: Rosemary Stockdale, R.J.Stockdale@massey.ac.nz

There are a growing number of online communities being created for business, social and health reasons.  There remain several interesting questions relating to:

Project: Women in Information & Communication Technology
Proposed by: Rosemary Stockdale, R.J.Stockdale@massey.ac.nz

I am interested in addressing questions relating to the small number of women that take tertiary education in ICT related courses and the subsequent impact on ICT in the workplace. Any student with an interest in this area is welcome to talk to me about a possible research project.

Dr. Dave Parsons

(Please note that Dave will be in the UK from March until the beginning of July, so initial supervision would have to be done via email)

Project: Professional Mobile Learning – Curriculum Development
Proposed by:
Dave Parson, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

Developing a curriculum for a professional mobile learning system is different from developing a curriculum for a conventional classroom, or even for an e-learning system. It may involve blended learning, related to other forms of delivery. It certainly needs to target those areas of learning that can benefit from the mobile environment. This project would involve researching mobile curricula, particularly for professional learners, gathering requirements from an external client, and implementing a prototype system to demonstrate some key features of the curriculum. End user assessment would be a required component of the study.

Project: Second Life as a Learning Environment
Proposed by:
Dave Parson, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

Second Life has been used extensively to deliver teaching, but empirical investigation of that work is lacking. A useful project would be to investigate the types of curriculum delivery that can be achieved in Second Life, implementation of a suitable test system, and evaluation with a group of learners. A comparative evaluation with alternative forms of delivery for the same content would be useful. A different angle on the same research topic could be an analysis of the roles and benefits of virtual meetings / seminars in Second Life. A qualitative analysis of participant experience might be undertaken to try to ascertain what perceived benefits such an environment might produce when compared with alternative ways of managing remote collaborative engagement.

Project: Collaborative Design with Mobile Devices
Proposed by:
Dave Parson, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

Mobile systems can be used for collaborative work. This study would focus on the use of mobile phones for collaborative software design, based on the Class Responsibility Collaboration (CRC) design technique. The work would involve the development of a mobile phone based tool (probably written using Java Micro Edition) that could support such a collaborative design exercise. Evaluation of the system would include comparing user experiences with a more traditional approach to CRC based design.

Project: Mobile AJAX Interface Design
Proposed by:
Dave Parson, D.P.Parsons@massey.ac.nz

AJAX can increase the usability of a web-based user interface by making page updates seamless and asynchronous. This project would involve the selection of a suitable mobile application that could be implemented using a traditional page based application and an AJAX approach. The AJAX approach would require designing the system such that it could be delivered using a single updatable page. The application might usefully be based on copying a real world mobile system (e.g. the Massy mobile IT papers web pages) and then reengineering it to use AJAX. Testing would be based on usability testing measures such as task completion times and/or other aspects of ISO usability criteria.

Anuradha Mathrani

Project – Collaborative tools used by virtual teams in distributed software development

Proposed by – Anuradha Mathrani (a.s.mathrani@massey.ac.nz)

Description - Virtual teams are groups of geographically, organisationally and/or time dispersed workers brought together by information and telecommunication technologies to accomplish one or more organisational tasks (Powell et al. 2004). The project will investigate the adoption of collaborative tools commonly used by New Zealand organisations to manage distributed tasks in software development. It will use either a case study or survey research method to analyse the adoption and key features of tools used by organisations in New Zealand which are involved in distributed software development tasks.