Monday, September 23, 2013

Most Significant Stories by co-PI of Java Simulations for Teaching and Learning

thanks for your teacher-co-PI stories.!
u can read mine here
no names are mentioned but okay if accidentally appear right?
number of schools in Java Simulations for Teaching and Learning and the scaling up efforts

Teacher A: personal development

What was the nature of the change?

The most significant change I have seen through the Co-PI role so far has been the improved structure of teaching.

How was it before you have used Java Simulation?

Prior to the ETD project, generally the ICT ideas that were used in my lessons were commonplace. And so the learning of students did not take off well as expected. Inspired ICT ideas, though refreshing, are not integrated properly in the lessons resulting from the lack of pedagogical guidance and testing in a classroom environment before scaling up.

Instructional sequencing of lesson elements relating to ICT was also not looked into. For example, question about whether the EJS works meaningfully for flipped classroom or collaborative setting was not raised.

There were also a number of unnecessary concerns due to logistics constraint which hindered us from progressing more using EJS.

How did the Change come about? What happened?

I was invited to be Co-PI in 2012 in forming a working team comprised of experienced teachers from various Junior Colleges and few MOE staffs. I started to learn the fundamental reasons behind various uses of EJS and its accompanying pedagogies in knowledge deepening. My interpretation on Self Directed Learning (SDL) and Collaborative Learning (CoL) was also improved over time. I can vividly remember that one of the members, Kenneth, sought clarification from teachers on this interpretation and this has opened up opportunity for everyone to relearn.

The unnecessary concerns that hindered me to use EJS initially were dispelled from the fact that there is a great support from a MOE staff, Loo Kang who showed us the customized friendly EJS. He patiently guided us along with the revision of the applet for our school project.

We started to work on the Edulab project together. Every school representatives gave their contribution and exchanged resources for project scaling during our active school terms. As an activator, we went on to influence our teachers to implement those lesson packages in our school environment for every physics student cohort in a systematic way.

Frankly, I learnt a lot while managing the project for my school. This has truly developed me to be an individual who is sensitive and mature in implementing ICT based lessons.

Why is this change significant?

This change is significant because it offered me the flexibility to redesign my instructions and evaluate the effectiveness. For example, each school can choose to do qualitative or quantitative study for their project based on our need. The close-knitted network with teachers from other schools also provided good reference in case if I need pedagogical guidance or to draw research results.


Teacher B: 

What was the nature of the change?

The students were able to experience a new method of learning, apart from the conventional whiteboard teaching and teacher-led discussion. This new method of learning is deemed to be more interactive (student-student interaction, student-software interaction, as well as added some fun element to the lesson. Results show that lesson’s mastery objectives can be achieved using this alternative lesson plan and thus present another option for teachers to consider when designing their lessons.

Furthermore, at the learner’s end, the use of Java simulation helps students to visualize certain hard to-visualize Physics concepts. This proves to be more effective than textbook diagrams and can be a good alternative to physical classroom demonstrations. The java simulations also allow students to experiment with different data inputs and replay the simulation which is un-achievable in the physical demonstration set ups.

At the teachers’ end, some of the teachers become more receptive to alternative teaching approaches after the project. Even for the teachers who were not directly involved in our research project, the positive research data provided a strong reason for them to rethink about current and future teaching approaches.

How was it before you became a Co-PI of the project?

My school or at least my department uses videos and classroom demonstrations extensively to help students visualize Physics concepts. I believe as science teachers / scientists and engineers, physics teachers values greatly the understanding and visualization of concepts. Due to the long standing teaching practices that we had, even the students were largely convinced that this is the way to go for learning Physics. Certainly, the teachers were also aware of useful java applets available online, but it was usually meant for teacher led discussion. We did not consider letting the students experiment with the java simulation and discussing in groups. Not to mention, the teachers did not thought that they can modify the java simulations according to their own professional needs.



Impact of NRF2011-EDU001-EL001: Java Simulation Design for Teaching and Learning

Teacher C:

What was the nature of the change?

The change I observed was the students’ ability to better appreciate the physical system that would not have been easy for the students. The java simulation on Superposition brings across the meaning of superposition well and the various representations allow the students to think more deeply into the concepts.

The teacher also has a better understanding of the meaning of design inquiry worksheet. It provides the teacher with a platform to learn and experiment the worksheets that they created for the students. This serves to develop in the teachers new skills and appreciation of the worksheet’s design.

How was it before you have used Java Simulation?

Prior to the project, the teacher could only rely on the ripple tank experiment, the use of transparency and videos to illustrate the concepts. The students were unable to manipulate the variables and they could probably see the effect of the resultant pattern if they are sharp. Use of two waves on transparency has its limitation too as it was not easy to print the wave-front correctly.

How did the Change come about? What happened?

Java simulation has been available for some time but the ability to make changes to the parameters and design of the interface are something that added value to the java simulation. Loo Kang has been exploring changing the interface and adding value to the various simulations for quite some time and his ability to work with the schools on changes needed help a lot. Teachers could now seek his help to make changes and this has changed and improved the original version of the simulation. The added feature in the simulation allows the students to better appreciate the concept in superposition.


Why is this change significant?

The change is significant in that it provides the teacher another platform to introduce this conceptually difficult topic of superposition. The multiple representations available in the java simulation provide an enriched perspective of how this topic could be understood. As the java simulation is easily available over the internet, it allows students to exercise more self-directed learning as they could explore the various parameters on their own.


Teacher D:

What was the nature of the change?

Improved student understanding of abstract and difficult physics concepts and increased motivation to use multimedia teaching tools among teachers

How was it before you became a Co-PI of the project?

Traditionally there are some physics topics which are more difficult to comprehend than others. An example of such topics is Gravitation. Many students are not able to visualize the gravitation effect between huge masses, like planets and satellites, and there are very little, if no, meaningful experiments that can be carried out in a school science lab to investigate gravitational laws. Hence teachers usually rely on qualitative description and pictures or videos to illustrate the concepts. However these methods are mostly passive and many students find it difficult to comprehend the unfamiliar concepts correctly without interactive engagement.

How did the Change come about? What happened?

In our search for better teaching methods to support students’ learning, Mr Wee Loo Kang, ETD officer, introduced us to four of his newly designed Easy-Java-Simulation (EJS) that allow users to manipulate variables and observe the invisible effects through simulations. One of the EJS even allows students to visualize planetary motions in 3 dimensions. The graphic is of high quality and the manipulation is not too difficult. The four EJS were used to support lectures and infused strategically either in the existing tutorial questions or designed as an inquiry worksheet, to enhance students’ understanding. These EJS also served as platforms for students’ self-directed learning and collaborative learning.

Why is this change significant?

Based on perceptive survey and small group interviews, most students enjoyed the learning process and claimed that they have gained deep understanding of the concepts. Teachers have also commented that there were improved learning attitude among their students with the introduction of the EJS.