Student’s are fueled by their own desire to learn. If students enter the program without much technical experience and they are interested in the software, they must teach themselves to use it, requiring intense motivation.
…students must translate those on their own or seek outside assistance…
Perusal of the Ashes2Art website indicates that this seems to be a senior level endeavor. One sees it as the culmination of a college education. Here students give evidence that they are life-long learners (a typical mission of the university) by showing that they can learn on their own, possibly something outside of their comfort zone.
And learning on one’s own has never been easier. The web is replete with videos and PowerPoints and lecture notes on virtually any subject. It turns out that part of our human nature is the desire to share our knowledge.
A well-designed senior capstone project should have a component that requires learning not directly tied to the major – mastery of a specialized presentation tool, or use of information in another language, or understanding the views of a different discipline to name some. Ashes2Art is a great example.
Postscript: I am currently in the throes of learning how to use the graphical visualization tool gephi. This has turned out to be somewhat frustrating since the intuitive interface doesn’t always work as expected but since I have a motivating objective – understanding how my students succeed in subsequent math classes – I am persisting and having fun anyway.