Thursday, December 30, 2010

Curriculum innovation through Learning Community

My Original Writeup for: Curriculum innovation through Learning Community

Curriculum innovation is advanced by teacher leadership to work with experts (NIE, Addestation and others) to learn together as community of learners. Teachers with diverse curriculum and instructional leadership are united by Physics Task Force to conceptualize lessons that help students learn meaningfully for life. With a Hybrid learning model, we propose a 4 stage cycle to design blended learning environment; face to face and online interaction. Dataloggers and computers simulations form the foundation hands-on activities for promoting inquiry learning through “Sculpting & Operationalizing”. Minds-on activities are suggested through “Translating & Integrating ” stages of the Hybrid learning model.

Schools are overwhelmed with technology information and face challenges to engage learners in the digital age. Many teachers struggle with the “right” blend of face to face and online learning possible in the world today.

Simulations to “Operationalize” learner centre inquiry learning at home/school
1) Students cannot continue to interact and learn with physics laboratory apparatus outside school.
2) Lending out school data loggers for science inquiry could be a solution but the risk of damaged and missing apparatus after unsupervised use is high
Existing Solutions are:
1) Pay vendor to produced computer simulations, but they could be costly and time consuming to create with teachers’ inputs
2) Free simulations on the internet usually cannot be customized to match teachers’ pedagogy interests and students’ learning needs.
3) Email researchers to request for simulations but researchers does not know exactly what are the requirements, the design features, model to build and constant refinement are required.
Innovative Solution:
1) The simulations are made free, no additional cost. Teachers conceptualize, design and build the simulation, saving time without long communication to external vendor.
2) Teachers customize the simulation to match pedagogy interests and students’ learning needs through community of researchers’ simulation building tool.
3) Teachers participate in community of practice (CoP) with education professors of the world, advancing our own professional practice

Process conceptualize
1) visited the research website to gather resources for teacher as learner as part of professional development
2) Immerse the teacher into the community of researcher, create simulations, and discuss ways to improve learning through online discussions forums and emails.
3) meet the community of researchers during seminal conferences to continue to network, share and learn
4) develop the simulations collaboratively in the CoP and share simulations created under creative commons license to benefit humankind

Implement innovation
1) Master teacher physics as center of learning community to bring expertise from AST, ETD,, NIE and Addestation Co. to learn together and share through Physics Chapter

Qualitative Survey
In science teacher conference workshop 23-24 Nov 2010, the participants teachers said
Teachers said:
“I will implement this innovation curriculum in my classes”
“the learning is related to real life and students can see the physics clearly”

In River Valley High Feb 2010, a similar simulation learner center inquiry lesson was conducted
Selected Survey Results for lesson (N = 64).

Student said about the benefits
1) Students contextual their understanding based on the experience interacting and conducting science inquiry in the simulation.
2) The learning is fun, more enjoyable than passive lectures and boost students’ interests
3) Simulations help students to visualize the concepts, easier to learn about the relationship between scientific variables and challenge students to make connection
4) Students explore and observe different simulation situations safely and easier, therefore more able to spend time to do critical thinking, analyze trends and patterns. Students gain confidence and sense of accomplishment when the conclusions they arrive at are correct.

Quantitative Survey
In River Valley High Feb 2010, a similar simulation learner center inquiry lesson was conducted
Selected Survey Results for lesson (N = 64).
1 How much do you know about the physics taught today before lesson?

a great deal very little
1 - a great deal 0 0%
2 3 5%
3 15 23%
4 28 42%
5 - very little 18 27%
2 How much do you know about the physics taught today after the lesson?

a great deal very little
1 - a great deal 4 6%
2 32 48%
3 26 39%
4 0 0%
5 - very little 2 3%

1) Continue curriculum innovation through Physics Chapter AST
2) Curriculum innovation are available in edumall2.0 ICT connection as lesson example

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Personal Reflection on How Technologies Foster Learning by Jonassen, Peck and Wilson (1999)

Some CSCL dimensions:
  1. Technologies used as cognitive tool
  2. Technologies used to afford communication
  3. Technologies used to afford distributed participation
  4. Technologies used to afford knowledge building
Personal Reflection on How Technologies Foster Learning by Jonassen, Peck and Wilson (1999) together with real world happenings.

This is very similar to what Jonassen, Peck and Wilson (1999)
" How Technologies Foster Learning
1. Technology as tools to support knowledge construction (or knowledge building):
  • For representing learners’ ideas, understandings, and beliefs;
  • For producing organized, multimedia knowledge bases by learners.
2. Technology as information vehicles for exploring knowledge to support learning-by-constructing (or distributed participation):
  • For accessing needed information;
  • For comparing perspectives, beliefs, and world-views.
3. Technology as context to support learning-by-doing (cognitive tool).
  • For representing and simulating meaningful real-world problem, situations and contexts;
  • For representing beliefs, perspectives, arguments, and stories of others;
  • For defining a safe, controllable problem space for student thinking.
4. Technology as social medium to support learning by conversing (communication)
  • For collaborating with others;
  • For discussing, arguing, and building consensus among members of a community;
  • For supporting discourse among knowledge-building communities.
5. Technology as intellectual partner to support learning-by-reflecting:
  • For helping learners to articulate and represent what they know;
  • For reflecting on what they have learned and how they came to know it;
  • For supporting learners; internal negotiations and meaning-making;
  • For constructing personal representations of meaning; and
  • For supporting mindful thinking."
My thoughts:
I agree with the points raise by Jonassen, Peck and Wilson (1999) but a teacher has to make sense of all the affordances of technology within the context of what a normal lesson can be cramped with.
I would instead put point 3 Technology as context to support learning-by-doing (cognitive tool) as key priority .Like Ejs simulations as inquiry lab or constructionism, to build new computer model to understand the models coded. This is because in the absence of experiencing (Dewey, 1958) and doing (Schank, Berman, & Macpherson, 1999) which I argue is happening pretty much of the time, the rest of the affordance like knowledge constructing, information exploring, communicating and reflection would be based on abstraction of ideas (McDermott, 1993), not grounded on contextual and situated learning (Bereiter, 1997; Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989; Hsu & Hwang, 2002).

I believe a focus on what really matters in learning (context like real life labs or dataloggers lab or simulations) will put the other affordances in good stand, instead of the pursuit of knowledge constructing, information exploring, communicating and reflection as key instructional strategies. The assumption that students has rich prior experiences or the cognitive ability to "make things up" needs to be examined and questioned.

Figure: Model of how technology foster learning with technology as context to support learning by doing like in inquiry active learning through Simulations.

Bereiter, C. (1997). Situated cognition and how to overcome it. In D. I. Kirshner & J. A. Whitson (Eds.), Situated cognition: Social, semiotic, and psychological perspectives. (pp. 281-300). Mahwah, NJ US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated Cognition and the Culture of Learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32-42.
Dewey, J. (1958). Experience and nature: Dover Pubns.
Hsu, Y.-S., & Hwang, F.-K. (2002, June 24-29). The Use of Multiple Representations in a Web-Based and Situated Learning Environment. Paper presented at the ED-MEDIA 2002 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, 14th, Denver, Colorado.
McDermott, L. C. (1993). Guest Comment: How we teach and how students learn---A mismatch? American Journal of Physics, 61(4), 295-298.
Schank, R. C., Berman, T. R., & Macpherson, K. A. (1999). Learning by doing. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory, Vol. II. (pp. 161-181). Mahwah, NJ US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

New Knowledge Creation Model adapted from

My interpretation of  what New Knowledge Creation Model is.
Diagram adapted from
Jackson, D. and J. Temperley (2007). From professional learning community to networked learning community. Professional learning communities: Divergence, depth and dilemmas. L. Stoll and K. S. Louis: 45–62.

In Jackson, D. and J. Temperley (2007) states;

"The nature of the learning within the professional networks can be powerful when the networks can 
1) provide a diversity of expertise 
2) enable shared objective of continually advancing the collective knowledge and skills
3) provide scaffolding of mechanisms for sharing what is learned and
4) enable a balance of properties of emergence and with properties of design.

In Professional Networks, the contextual knowledge of the teachers, the public knowledge in the form of research and good practices can generate new knowledge co-created through critical inquiry led by the teachers within the networks."

Reading the Jackson, D. and J. Temperley (2007) reminds me of what i am doing in terms of new knowledge creation. When i take what is public knowledge from NTNU Java Virtual Lab and Open Source Physics Collection of simulations and create new remixed simulations and curriculum materials like worksheets and activities. I am always mindful of the syllabus needs and articulation, the demands of school "teaching", scheme of work, timetable etc.
My thought is that the best part of new knowledge creation is the driving force for benefiting humankind by releasing the public knowledge the new knowledge or new simulations remixed. So creating new knowledge, the public knowledge can enriched by ordinary teachers contribution back to the world, as oppose to locking them up in some protected online space. 

What do you think?

Understanding Distance, Speed, and Time Relationships Using Simulation Software

was helping someone to embed this applet into their own wiki pages
test new link Ejs Open source Displacement & Velocity time java applet
made one Ejs which is more customized


1 remove acceleration according to primary school teacher.
2 unit in km/hr instead of m/s according to primary school teacher.
3 further bug reduction
4 axis for x is further refine to follow
xming = Math.min(x1,xmin);
xming = Math.min(x2,xming); // for maximum view instead of autoscale which is suppose to be difficult for young minds
5 fix PY1[1] and PY2[1] at the top left corner to follow the distance of the rectangle
6 fix the time to reflect the distance as accurate as possible for given t = 0.00s

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Challenges faced in developing simulations addressed by using Easy Java Simulation Design Flow

Want to share that many challenges faced in developing simulations could be addressed by using Easy Java Simulation Design Flow.

Simulation making Challenges address.
  • Manpower budget related to simulation development is very low $ cost to develop simple physics simulation because you can develop it yourself.
  • Operational issues & educational research capacity can be build up in the teacher as researcher.
  • Recruitment and staffing issues is address because you are your own talent to develop simulations
 Teacher implementation and buy in Challenge address
  • Teacher professional development. TPD is addressed by being a collaborative journey of practice development with simulation as inquiry learning environment or labs, not a just a hit and run intervention.
 Universal Challenges with using Technology in classroom.
  • Student epistemology and school culture is hard to address. Broadly high achieving exam smart students tend to value learning that would contribute to them doing well in current school examinations that generally still look for, and reward, content mastery. Students are unaccustomed to having to make substantial effort in personal  learning demand through inquiry learning through simulations. I argue that some personal talk to gain student's buy in is needed and more times using different simulations to situated learning experiences. Students will see the "light" to learning.
  • Teacher could be too busy with everyday activities (priorities and immediate concerns in the milieu of school life) or "busy work" that inhibits learning with simulations or datalogger. Perhaps the simulations could take optimum amount of time for more learning gains, instead of a long drawn kind of intervention? Teacher time is too precious!
  • Society culture surrounding ‘education’. There is too much focus on imparting knowledge through way of third-person knowing-of-facts in the classroom than the personal first-person experience in learning. Educating the public about the dangers of learning just for aceing examinations?
     My Hypothesis.
    Simulation learning opens up new avenues for inquiry active learning that address traditional school transmission of ‘knowledge’ that is not grounded in action, that further leads to inert knowledge (Whitehead, 1929).

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Physlets from Davidson College USA
    found it from

    A remarkable collection, when time permits will create improved Ejs versions


    Charge, Charging, and Coulomb's Law
    Electric Field
    Gauss' Law
    Potential and Potential Energy
    DC Circuits
    Charges and Currents in Magnetic Fields
    Calculating Magnetic Fields

  • Magnetic Moment of an Atom

  • Faraday's Law
    AC Circuits
    EM Waves
    Reflection and Refraction
    Interference and Diffraction
    Thin-film Interference
    Polarized Light

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    Ejs Open Source Cyclotron Java Applet in 3D

    Ejs Open Source Cyclotron Java Applet in 3D
    this is my attempt at the assignment given for the construction of Cyclotron
    Ejs Open Source Cyclotron Java Applet in 3D 
    author: lookang based on the works of Fu-Kwun Hwang edited by Robert Mohr and Wolfgang Christian

    The cyclotron was one of the earliest types of particle accelerators, and is still used as the first stage of some large multi-stage particle accelerators. It makes use of the magnetic field Bz on a moving charge to bend moving charges into a semicircular path between accelerations by an applied electric field Ey. The applied electric field Ey accelerates charged particles between the "gaps" of the 2 magnetic field region as shown. The electric field Ey is reversed at the cyclotron frequency to accelerate the electrons back across the gap.

    How the cyclotron works? and
    The charged particles, injected near the center of the magnetic field Bz, accelerate only when passing through the gap between the electric field Ey electrodes with increase in kinetic energy. The perpendicular magnetic field Bz bends moving charges into a semicircular path between the magnets with no increase in kinetic energy. The magnetic field causes the charge to follow a half-circle that carries it back to the gap. While the charge is in the gap the electric field Ey is reversed, so the charge is once again accelerated across the gap. The cycle continues with the magnetic field in the dees continually bringing the charge back to the gap. Every time the charge crosses the gap it picks up speed. This causes the half-circles in the dees to increase in radius, and eventually the charge emerges from the cyclotron at high speed.
    The combined motion is a result of increasing energy of the particles in electric field Ey and the magnetic field Bz forces the particles to travel in an increasing radius of the circle after each entry into the other magnetic field. This results in a spiral path of which the particles than emerged at a higher speed than when it was injected into the center of the magnetic field Bz.

    Uses of the cyclotron
    For several decades, cyclotrons were the best source of high-energy beams for nuclear physics experiments; several cyclotrons are still in use for this type of research.
    Cyclotrons can be used to treat cancer. Ion beams from cyclotrons can be used, as in proton therapy, to penetrate the body and kill tumors by radiation damage, while minimizing damage to healthy tissue along their path.

    Problems solved by the cyclotron
    The cyclotron was an improvement over the linear accelerators
    Cyclotrons accelerate particles in a spiral path. Therefore, a compact accelerator can contain much more distance than a linear accelerator, with more opportunities to accelerate the particles.

    Advantages of the cyclotron
    Cyclotrons produce a continuous stream of particles at the target, so the average power is relatively high.
    The compactness of the device reduces other costs, such as its foundations, radiation shielding, and the enclosing building.

    changes made:
    1 added Ey field visualization
    2 added custom force() to act only when inside the space between the 2 magnets and always in the direction of vy thus the frequency of Ey is simulated through the vy sign change.
    3 added Ey vs time graph for visualizing the square wave in thanks to Nat Ng suggestion in facebook

    good resources: by Davidson College by Fu-Kwun Hwang Cyclotron mirror of Fu-Kwun Hwang Cyclotron mirror of Fu-Kwun Hwang Cyclotron mirror of Fu-Kwun Hwang Cyclotron mirror of Fu-Kwun Hwang Cyclotron mirror of Fu-Kwun Hwang Cyclotron by Andrew Martin King Centre Visualization in Science simple animation simple animation by MK Srivastava PowerPoint by Drew Weymouth

    exercises by lookang: adapted from

    The building of the cyclotron model is based on a optional activity in Charge in Magnetic Field Model written by Fu-Kwun Hwang edited by Robert Mohr and Wolfgang Christian
    The learning from this optional activity demonstrate student's learning in performance tasks. 5 stars!

    There are many activities that can be design in this simulation.
    refer to for Charge Particle in Magnetic Field B Java Applet in 3D

    Prior Knowledge required
    charged particles
    electric field & magnetic field

    1. Early years scientists accelerate particle in linear accelerators but they face a problem of the need for a long linear path to accelerate the particle. Can you think of a way to reduce the need for a long path?
    hint: look at the running track of a stadium, can you think of a way to bend the particle with the magnetic field and accelerate with electric field?

    Stadium image by jjjj56cp, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

    After some discussions, students can share their ideas through oral/verbal presentation.
    Teacher can praise some of the ideas and point them to Ejs as a means to test out their ideas using this Ejs simulation codes as templates for implementation.

    1. Explore the simulation, this simulation is designed with a charge particle in a system of magnetic fields in z direction.
    2 The play button runs the simulation, click it again to pause and the reset button brings the simulation back to its original state.
    3 select Bz =0 (key in the value 0 follow by "enter" on keyboard), Ey =0, vy = 60, and play the simulation. Notice that the path of the particle in a straight line in the y direction. What is the physics principle simulatted here.
    hint: newton's 1st law
    4 reset the simulation.
    5 using the default values(Bz =1, Ey=0, Vy=60), play the simulation. what did you observe? explain the motion in terms of the influences of magnetic field (assume gravitational effect can be neglected)
    6 explore the slider x, y, and z. what do these sliders control?
    7 explore the slider vx, vy, and vz. what do these sliders control?
    8 by leaving the cursor on the slider, tips will appear to give a description of the slider. you can try it the following sliders such as the charge q, mass m, radius of dee(magnets) R.
    9 there are some values radius of circular path r, kinetic energy of particle KE, resultant velocity vr and resultant force F on the m.
    10 vary the simulation and get a sense of what it does.

    11 reset the simulation
    12 using the values(Bz =1, Ey=0, Vy=60, Ey =10. observe the difference in the introduction of Ey in the gaps.
    13 notice that the Ey field is alternating, explain the purpose of this Ey in this simulation.
    14 propose the logic deployed by this simulation to time the switching of Ey. Can you think of other swtiching logic?
    15 note the first time the charge crosses the whole gap its kinetic energy increases by an amount ΔK. determine this value from looking at the value bar of KE, you may select the checkbox to view the scientific graph of KE vs t.
    answer: 2421.4-2021.5 = 399.9 ≈ 400 J
    16What is the change in kinetic energy associated with just moving in each half-circle in a dee (the magnetic field).
    hint: look at the value bar of KE, you may select the checkbox to view the scientific graph of KE vs t.
    16 explain why this it is so?
    hint: In the dee(magnetic field) the force on the charge comes from the magnetic field, so the force is perpendicular to the velocity. The speed, and hence the kinetic energy, stays constant, so the change is zero.
    17 The first time the charge crosses the gap its kinetic energy increases by an amount ΔK say 400 J. Assuming the electric field in the gap is the same magnitude at all times but in opposite direction to earlier time, what is the change in kinetic energy the second time the charge crosses the gap?
    hint: 2819.5-2421.4 = 398.1 ≈ 400 J
    18 suggest with reason why the values for 15 and 17 are not exactly the same
    hint: look at the value of vx
    answer: the exiting from magnetic field causes the vx to be slightly bigger than 0, thus the resultant velocity is increased very slightly.
    19 A scientist ask a question "To increase the speed of the particles when they emerge from the cyclotron. Which is more effective, increasing the electric field Ey=-Vy/dy across the gap or increasing the magnetic field Bz in the dees? " play the simulation for different initial condition and design an experiment with tables of values to record systematically, determine what is the more "effective" method. State your assumptions made.
    hint: assumption is outside physical radius of dee = R is fixed.
    the start velocity vy =0
    the start x = 0
    Note that whatever the magnitudes of the fields the final half-circle the charge passes through in the dee has a radius approximately equal to R, the radius of the dee itelf. The radius of the circular path of a charged particle in a magnetic field is:
    N2L: F = ma
    circular: v.B.q = m.v^2/r
    r = mv/Bq.
    In this case the speed of the particle is RBq/m = v
    Therefore the final kinetic energy is:
    KE = 1/2 mv2 = 1/2. m. (RBq/m)^2 = 1/2. R^2q^2B^2/m

    Have Fun!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Free Google Sites for any MOE teachers
    free sites!