Stagecast creator and webct: an integrated use of computer programming and a virtual learning environment for developing modelling skills
Nicolaou, Christiana Th.
Constantinou, Constantinos P.
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This paper reports on an effort to use Stagecast CreatorTM as a means for developing modelling skills among undergraduate students taking an introductory course in science that took place in a virtual learning environment (WebCTTM). An inquiry-based curriculum was implemented, which guided students working in small groups to collect and study moon observations and construct a series of successive models of the moon phases using Stagecast CreatorTM. Students’ reflective journals and reports of synchronous discussions were the means for collecting data. The findings show that the WebCTTM platform supported the on-line collaboration among students in the course that was used to help them improve their models through the use of Stagecast CreatorTM. Specifically, students’ groups shared their models with other groups through WebCTTM, and provided feedback about each other’s models, indicating model limitations and suggesting possible improvements. The results also suggest that students believed that the on-line collaboration supported their learning growth as well as the process of developing modelling skills. Students found it extremely fruitful to exchange ideas with other groups, to read and make suggestions for model improvements and to collaborate with almost all students in the course – which would have been impossible without the on-line collaboration tool. Collaboration in learning situations like the one presented in this paper involves exchanging, negotiating and critiquing ideas for the purpose of building new, more refined knowledge. This collaborative process became feasible due to the fact that sharing and viewing Stagecast CreatorTM files through the Internet is fully compatible with web-browsers. We suggest that the process of model deployment was practically made possible due to the combined use of Stagecast CreatorTM and WebCTTM.