October 27, 2014

Contributions from Physics 203

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Third in our discipline-specific articles on resources available on Profweb is Phystics – Discipline 203. What is it about Physics? So many teachers in Physics Departments across the province are creatively open to information technology to the point where the Physics Department in every single school is, if not the most, one of the most with it departments in using information technology. It’s amazing!

Maybe it’s because Physics teachers often have a background in experimental science. They were trained to use computers, to collect data and to try and track things, to try to improve things. They’re also perhaps a little less scared of computers because they have slaved over horrible Unix machines with amber terminals while studying. Profweb’s Physics resources are full of original and challenging IT ideas that teachers in any discipline can take ownership of and integrate into their courses whether those courses are in the sciences or in the arts.

For the Physics teacher a number of very discipline-specific IT integration questions arise such as:

  • How can information technology be used to bring the study of the behaviours of physical bodies into the Physics classroom?

Often, questions arise which involve all educators:

  • How do we consolidate the achievements of our students by offering different and sometimes fun ways to learn?
  • Can the use of Web 2.0 increase motivation and success?

Consult the Profweb community to promote a successful integration of educational technology into your teaching activities.

Profweb and Physics

Since 2009, Profweb has published many real-life stories in Physics. They have dealt with using technology to understand the behaviour of objects moving in space, creating a toolbox of IT tools for students to adapt to varying learning styles, allowing students to master concepts in a self-paced independent framework and enriching delivery of just-in-time teaching to the point where inadvertently the course embodies the flipped classroom approach. These stories are full of inspiring IT ideas that can be transferred and integrated into courses no matter which Physics course you are teaching.

  • Kevin Lenton’s practical teaching style at Vanier College means he is sometimes surprised by how students can push their own learning when they are motivated. One challenge with IT that he has, is to discover how the modern generation learns. He has found that their relationship with technology is often very different from his own.
  • Greg Mulcair touches upon the tools that he has used to blend information technology and traditional teaching in his Physics course which is part of a pilot project for blended learning at John Abbott College.
  • Also at John Abbott College, Caroline Viger has evolved a simple procedure for making videos giving “narrated solutions” to physics problems to her students. Sticking to the basics has allowed her to channel the class time that would have been spent explaining this material into more student-centered activities.
  • Éric Laflamme and Benoît Villeneuve, of Collège Édouard-Montpetit, have created an interactive course on measurement and experimental uncertainty in labs. This course involved the creation of a new online platform allowing students to develop laboratory skills, which has been given at two cegeps within the Montreal region.
  • We’ve all dealt with the issue of keeping online personal lives distinct from academic identities. Stephen Cohen has found that bringing his personal blog into his classroom at Vanier College has made a real difference in the instruction he can offer to his students, while keeping his privacy intact.
  • When the new active learning classroom’s first semester drew to a close at Dawson College, Chris Whittaker reflected on how the community of practice for active learning has influenced his teaching providing an ingenuity and a creative thrust that comes just by exchanging ideas.
  • Nathaniel Lasry and Michael Dugdale unintentionally flipped their classrooms by trying to enrich delivery of just-in-time teaching in electricity and magnetism courses at John Abbott College. Students were asked to do reading assignments accompanied by some short open-ended questions. They arrived at the lecture having acquired a vision of what parts were difficult for them.
  • Rocco Iafigliola used the Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) PSI to help learners take control of their own learning. PSI fell into disfavour because of the heavy correction load required to provide feedback. The advent of online platforms such as MasteringPhysics with selfcorrecting tests has allowed teachers to revisit this strategy.

But wait! That’s not all. There are many other valuable resources in Profweb of interest to physics teachers looking to use information technology.

  • In our Digital Tools feature is an article on Parallele, an iPad application that uses augmented reality. Parallele is a game that helps you to learn electromagnetic concepts and is especially useful for Physics teachers who are teaching their students concepts related to the motion of charged particles in an electromagnetic field.
  • As well valuable reading and resources are proposed such as the papers presented at the AQPC Symposiums including documentation for the presentation of Gilles Lalonde explaining the functioning of his café scientifique and its value for science education (in French).
  • How does one determine a minimum IT competency to be reached by college students in a particular program of study? This report gives a glimpse into the process of producing an exit standard for computer competence in the Humanities Programme and the Business Administration Accounting and Management Technologies Programme.
  • Not included in our resources yet, but in our sights, is Dawson College’s Chantale Giguère’s amazing resource on eLearning.

Several web resources can help you move from the traditional teaching of physics to the technopedagogical. In the Quebec college system, a search of the catalog for English resources in physics at the CDC (Centre de documentation collégiale) produced 27 print and digital resources. The Ceres Research Tool from Vitrine Technologie-Éducation returned 2574 resources in English from around the world using physics as a keyword and Vitrine Technologie Éducation itself has eight articles of direct interest to the Physics teacher. The online English edition of Pédagogie collégiale has four in-depth articles including a portrait of the Scale-Up Project which was the inspiration for the Active Learning classroom. As well the Collegial Centre for Educational Materials Development (CCDMD) has an impressive catalogue of academic material including a truly innovative site on Problem-Based Learning for College Physics.

Use Profweb as a Springboard to Technopedagogical Success

Hundreds of resources are available on Profweb – articles, real-life stories from teachers, presentations of digital tools and folders that can help the Physics teacher bring a world of in-depth explanations of principles to students wherever they may be. And yes, the website is free. Profweb also hosts teachers’ academic websites within the Quebec College Network at no charge. In this space, you can edit your website using easy-to-install blog, and wiki applications. Your teaching materials, whether or not created with these applications, can be hosted here as well.

The Profweb team is there to facilitate your exploration of new technologies and inspiring educational opportunities. They can also organize an activity addressing the issue of the integration of ICT into Physics in your department. If you are interested, please contact us.

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Kevin Lenton
Kevin Lenton
29 October 2014 14h03

Another point to consider is that the physics cegep community in Montreal often meet together to share ideas, material and techniques. So, as a community, we support each other, and can see what works and what needs more polish. And we read profweb!