The role of technology in education, such as the information technology (IT) for example has generated an avalanche of studies and its share of controversies. The core issue touches on the fundamental values we give to knowledge and education to acquire, understand and use such knowledge. Consequently the importance of education has been framed in the context of these new ITs which in the last decade has made considerable impact on the lives of people and some analysts contends is redefining how we behave and confront current social challenges and realities.
Computer use of students in a way mimics the reality situations and given Gardner’s, Bandura’s and Bruner’s theories it is possible to develop the students’ potentials with interest and focus on the student’s specific observed strengths and weaknesses. The use of IT sufficiently liberates the teaching situation to take on diverse interest, the challenge then is keeping it focused on particular objectives for teaching physics and mathematics for example.
Most schools today include IT in their curriculum offering, be it as a course in itself or as tools of learning. There is a virtual array of softwares which educators could choose from.
Teaching sciences with heavy application of mathematics could be indented to students, but nevertheless knowledge of physics and mathematics is critical to future studies of virtually all fields of specialization. In this knowledge are, IT could be a creative and innovative tool in engaging the students by greatly enhancing the learning situation both its environment and substance.
There is clearly a need for innovative and creative approaches if we would want to fully harness the potential of an enriched learning environment provided by IT which could make teaching physics and mathematics an enjoyable experience. Ensuring no substance is lost, that is ensuring that the course is rooted in core values and guided by proper scientific grounding and understanding is the domain of teachers and the school.
The general objective of the program to enhance the ability of the students to master key learning areas in physics and mathematics. Specifically, by the end of the year, grade five to seven students will be:
- able to use various educational softwares in aid of learning the basics of physics and mathematics.
- able to construct simple virtual experiments using any of the available simulation software.
- able to identify knowledge areas which strong and weak and make appropriate individual plan to improve.
- able to exhibit the skills learned by performing the standard exercises both written, oral or simple Excel programs and calculations
- able to work in a group situation showing the proper decorum and protocols
There are three levels of measure of success which will be employed in the grant proposal. The cognitive level, in which the students will be able to learn to identify relationships and complexity in a given learning situation, the affective which social-psychologist calls is the realms of emotions and values; and the behavior (psychomotor) which is in the context of schooling is essentially prescribed skills acquired by the students undergoing the class.
These three aspects of learning are so intimate that in actual classroom situation, these three aspects are dynamics at work. The fear that IT is replacing the teachers is unfounded because close observations of classroom situation show that because of the introduction of IT, teachers are confronted by a greater challenge of teaching not only the subject matter, say, physics, but teaching how to use IT and more important, help the students contextualize IT as a powerful tool but a tool nonetheless, the creativity and innovations which may come out of IT use is still supplied by the students. Hence, contrary to believe that IT taking on the “teaching” the teachers are now more than ever essential if students are to fully grasp the implications of emerging technologies in their lives and in society. I think that there is still no software in the world which could teach that.
Preparatory stage (two months): This includes leveling-off with teachers and school official as to the core philosophy of the IT enhanced teaching of physics and mathematics and basic preparations for teachers.
The school will be engaged in the final selection among an array of possible software and hardware to be used by the class. The preparatory stage is perhaps the most important as it:
- Would generate a consensus as to the merits of using IT and how it will be used in the classrooms.
- Would identify the advantages of using IT.
- Would identify the adjustment areas and new learning areas for teachers by presenting the guidepost for teachers and users.
More importantly, the teachers and school officials will be engaged in determining the specific measures of success which will be used in evaluating the program. Training and software familiarization immediately follows after the leveling off. Chosen software for enhancing teaching of physics and mathematics will be a dry run by the concerned teachers and officials. Initial assessment using the favored testing scales applicable to the particular school will be used.
The first sub stage is familiarization and exploration wherein the students will be allowed to explore the softwares. The teacher supervises the logging of the basic research or project interest of the students.
The second sub-stage is a problem solving wherein the students will be given will be given exercises and guided on how they could approach and finally solve the problems. The particular exercise and problems will be worked during the training and orientation of teachers to ground the subject matter with the teaching priorities of the school. As an illustration, the approach of making “difficult” subjects enjoyable and everyday and ordinary could help unlock the potential of students for technical and scientific studies later in their life. Sports could be taken as an example of physics application and concepts such as gravity, velocity and momentum could be effectively explained in the turnaround jumper by Dwayne Wade of Miami Heat.
Problems could be stated based on situations which the students could easily relate like for example, if Shaq in the other side of the court throws the ball to Wade for a fast break and he catches the ball 2.2 second after Shaq threw the ball and assuming the distance between them is 80 feet, how fast is the ball going?
The third sub-stage is integration, which combines all knowledge and skills acquired in a group project. The nature of the project could be limited only by the available resources in the school.
The fourth sub-stage is evaluated, the method of which will be determined in the preparatory stage of the program.
We take note that the four sub-stages are not rigid subdivisions, but co-exist in any particular time. Meaning, the students and teachers are constantly evaluating, and self-assessing in every step of the way in mastering the softwares and IT in the context of knowledge and understanding of specific subject matters like physics and mathematics.