Changing online paradigms: beyond Information transmission 'lectures' to research-based interactive science laboratories
Meisner, Gerald W.
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Robust online courses in the sciences must be based on: (1) sound, research–based pedagogy, (2) rich laboratory environments with skills and operational knowledge transferable to the wet ‘lab’, (3) a paradigm that is economically scalable. LAAPhysics courseware is designed to meet these challenges in the distance-learning field. LAAPhysics uses Java, C, C++, XML and other server/client technologies to develop and build a complete, highly interactive online physics laboratory comprised of equipment and instrument objects and associated research-based curriculum modules. Information exchange between client and server in the LAAPhysics environment enable users to increase the depth of guidance which a student receives. Data includes dialog (guide agent/tutor and student), white board discussions with virtual peers, UI selections, assessment items and capstone investigations. Complete portfolios of student performance are generated, permitting individual and aggregate analyses not only of conceptual understanding but also of peer to peer interactions and student understanding of various representations of experimental data. We report on the development of this unique online instrument which will enable measurement of student learning not previously attainable.