Merlot Workshop on Virtual Courseware

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					Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Hands-On Virtual Courseware for Inquiry-Based Science Education
Robert Desharnais
Dave Mayo David Risner

California State University, Los Angeles
Supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the California State University.

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Project Philosophy
Students Learn by Doing!
“Virtual Courseware” activities are interactive simulations that emphasize the scientific method: making observations, proposing hypotheses, designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, synthesizing results.

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Virtual Courseware activities are:
• Web-based, easily-accessible • Aimed at introductory science majors • Vertically scalable (HS, GE, upper division)

• Designed to reinforce scientific methodology
• Interactive, intuitive, inquiry-based • Modular and self-contained

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Virtual Courseware activities are NOT:
• Designed to replace traditional labs • Declarative multimedia presentations • Standalone tutorials

• On-line courses

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Historical Development of Virtual Courseware Project
• NextStep application development
• Web-based CGI (Virtual FlyLab & Earthquake) • Biology Labs On-Line (commercial partnership) • Geology Labs On-Line • Earth & Environmental Science Courseware

• Inquiry-Based Courseware for Secondary School Science Education

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Early Virtual Courseware was CGI-Based

WWW server

Form-based input

HTML output

• CGI scripts are simple and reliable • Limited GUI; places load on server

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Virtual FlyLab
• Mate fruit flies to determine the principles of genetic inheritance

• Students could choose from 30 mutations in any combinations (1000’s of possibilities)
• Students design their own experiments • Students enter and test hypotheses • Iterative “trial and error” learning process

• Can range from simple monohybrid crosses to complex mapping experiments

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Screen Images of Virtual FlyLab

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Virtual FlyLab Usage
100000 90000 80000 70000

Students

60000 50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0 Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su 95 95 96 96 96 96 97 97 97 97 98 98 98 98 99 99 99 99 00 00 00

Quarter

• Over 665,000 users • Over 5,000,000 fruit-fly matings

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Virtual Earthquake
• Students analyze seismograms to determine location of earthquake’s epicenter

• Students analyze seismograms to determine earthquake’s Richter magnitude
• Demonstrates principle of triangulation and use of nomograms • Linear learning activity • Feedback provided when errors are made; only correct responses allow students to complete the activity

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Screen Images of Virtual Earthquake

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Virtual Earthquake Usage
100000 90000 80000 70000

Students

60000 50000 40000 30000 20000 10000 0
Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su F W Sp Su 96 96 97 97 97 97 98 98 98 98 99 99 99 99 00 00 00 00 01 01 01 01 02 02 02

Quarter

• Over 1,000,000 certificates • One day record is 4,210 certificates

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Biology Labs On-Line (1999 – 2002)
• Commercial partnership between CSU and publisher Benjamin Cummings • Twelve Java-based applets were developed for introductory biology

• Subscription web-site: $5.25 / year / applet; site licensing also available ($100 / year)
• Over 250,000 applets downloaded in 03/04 • Adopted by 600+ U.S. colleges & universities

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Applets of Biology Labs On-Line

CardioLab

DemographyLab

EnzymeLab

EvolutionLab

FlyLab

HemoglobinLab

LeafLab

MitochondriaLab

PedigreeLab

PopEcoLab

PopGenLab

TranslationLab

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Geology Labs On-Line (1999 – 2001)
• Linear interactive Web-based exercises
• Use a combination of CGI, Perl, PHP, Javascript, Java applets, Flash

• Four activities are available:
– – Virtual Dating – Isochron Virtual Dating – Radiocarbon

– –

Virtual River – Discharge Virtual River – Flooding

• Approximately 150,000 users to date

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Earth & Environmental Science Courseware (2000–2004)
• New Earthquake activity is the prototype

• Two activities and 7 tutorials:
– – Energy Budget Future Climate Change

–

Albedo, Carbon Cycle, Greenhouse Effects, Greenhouse Gasses, Hydrological Cycle, Milankovitch Cycles, Seasons

• Released in August 2004

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Prototype: New Earthquake Activity

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Usage of New Earthquake
• Approximately 64,000 users since Spring 2002 • Currently 4000 class accounts • Breakdown by type of institution:
– – – – – – 25% Middle Schools 41% High Schools 9% Two-year Colleges 11% Four-year Colleges 5% Universities with MS Programs 9% Doctoral Universities

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Future Plans
• Develop activities for secondary school science education • Recent $1.3M (3 year) NSF ESIE-IMD award • Develop 36 activities in life and earth sciences • Project Team:
– – – – – PI & CoPI (Desharnais & Mayo) Science Ed faculty associate (Narguizian) Science Ed postdoc (Limson) Programmer and graphic artist (Risner, Berberyan) Graduate assistant (Kwong)

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

Lessons Learned
• It takes lots of resources to do the job right
– – – – – Time of the developers Content expertise Programming assistance Graphics design All of the above costs money ($1.5M so far)

• Team effort is needed (not too many!) • There should be a single vision • Listen to users (solicit feedback) and act on it

Virtual Courseware Project (ScienceCourseware.com)

More Lessons Learned
• In the sciences, simulations rule!

• Emphasize the scientific method
• Allow for “vertical scalability” • Instructors prefer modularity • Virtual courseware has the potential for reaching many students (our combined total exceeds 2,000,000) • Virtual courseware can enhance learning


				
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