Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences: April 7-27, 2008

Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Sylvia Currie -
Number of replies: 18
Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar!

This 3-week discussion is organized in collaboration with the British Columbia Educational Technology Users Group. ETUG is a grassroots group that has been organizing activities in support of innovation and best practices in educational technology since 1994.

Our facilitator, Gina Bennett, will likely introduce herself as a member of a team that coordinates teaching and learning activities at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC. But she probably won't mention that she has been recognized for her contributions to the Commonwealth of Learning WikiEducator project, and that she travelled to Ghana last year to assist with the integration of these learning materials. Gina also won't mention that she is past chair extraordinaire of the ETUG steering committee, a term that saw the group through many exciting changes. We're very excited that Gina could find time in her busy life to facilitate this seminar!

Now a confession...We're claiming that this seminar is a first in a "rethinking teaching" series. To be honest, we haven't planned the future seminars in this series! big grin We just feel that the timing is right to take a hard look at our teaching in various disciplines. Hold that thought, because you need to help us plan for the upcoming seminars!

Sylvia Currie
Loyal ETUG member
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Gina Bennett -

Thanks for the warm welcome, Sylvia! And just to echo that: welcome, everybody, to this SCoPE discussion about "Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences". For those of you who haven't noticed me before on SCoPE: I've been a long-time lurker and sporadic participant in this community for a number of years. I work at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC, & like anyone who works at a very small college, I wear many hats & have a complicated job description. I am a faculty member & for the most part I help to coordinate distance education (primarily online) teaching & learning activities for the college, as well as assist with new program development.

I will warn you that my bias is very much pro-technology: I love playing with gadgets and I get excited by new educational technology possibilities. I am a long-time member of our provincial postsecondary Educational Technology Users Group (ETUG) and currently serve on the Steering Committee for that group. I hope to be joined by several of my ETUG colleagues in this discussion (… and yes: that *is* a hint to all you ETUG participants out there! Not just poor Sylvia wink)

I am also very much pro-science. My undergraduate degree (from SFU) was in Biological Sciences, but I'm fond of all the natural sciences and mathematics, too. For 4 years I was a full-time lab instructor in UVic's Introductory Biology (BIOL 150) course. Although my career has taken a number of turns & twists, I know first-hand the value of a science education.

What about you? Who are you, what do you do, & why do you care about science?

Gina Bennett

PS: yes I did go to Africa last year! But it was to Kenya to assist with a project unrelated to WikiEducator blush

In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Emma Duke-Williams -
Hi
A bit of a background about me, as this it not quite what I normally do ... BUT, I think that it sounds really exciting!
I've also got a Scientific background - a degree in Botany & Geography, but then went into teaching; initially in Special Education.
I've changed a little, and am now a lecturer in the School of Computing here in Portsmouth, UK.
My area of interest is using computers to support teaching & learning, fairly generically - so, things like web2.0 & community development are of interest; and I spend quite a bit of time on the more "formal" things like the VLE and online assessment.
Last year, I was seconded to one of the CETL (Centres for Excellence in Teaching & Learning) in the University - one based in the Science Faculty; which does a lot of Medical simulation.
This year, I'm seconded to the Faculty - as an eLearning Co-ordinator, covering the computing, maths & civil engineering departments.

Actually, reading all that, while I might not be spending that much time doing formal "science" - I guess I probably do have a lot of overlaps with this discussion!
Looking forward to sharing ideas!
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Christine Horgan -

Hello:

Chris Horgan, Curriculum Co-ordinator, Centre for Academic Learner Services (aka CALS), SAIT Polytechnic.

I don't personally have a science background (I'm an English major), but we deliver a number of science courses F2F/blended and fully on-line and so the more I know about options around using technology to deliver science-related curriculum, the more useful I can be in my joint roles of curriculum co-ordinator/project manager and the more useful my conversations will be with both SMEs and Instructional Designers.

I expect to lurk most of the time.

I look forward to following an interesting discussion.

Cheers, Chris

In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Gina Bennett -
Emma, it sounds like we have a lot in common! Your roundabout journey to your current position as eLearning Coordinator mirrors mine.

I will be especially interested, when you're able to jump in, to hear more about the medical simulations you were involved in last year.
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Amy Severson -
I am an Instructional Designer at SFU, and I have not taken a science course since, oh, 1993 when I took Biology 100 at UBC.

I do however, want to be able to talk to faculty members in the sciences, and so I'd like to explore and discuss the unique challenges and opportunities here.


In reply to Amy Severson

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Rob Johnson -
Hi to everyone,
I have been teaching science in middle school and high school for over thirty years. I have taught in Colorado, Oklahoma, Mainland China, and Canada. Currently I teach at a First Nations school on a little island off the central coast of BC, Canada. This topic is one that is dear to my heart. I have been integrating as much technology as I can into my classroom F2F in the form of experiments, internet resources, online courses and textbooks, etc., etc. I am going to be reading and processing until I feel inspired to add to the dialog. I am looking forward to the discussions. I find it interesting that people outside of science education itself are jumping in and welcome their insights. Please continue. One of the benefits of access to broadband and ICT resources is the ability to make observations from other parts of the world (collaboration with other science classrooms and students) and gather data that can be used in our experiments and projects. Wiki's, blogs, and you tube are becoming a valid resource for student support and discussions. Enough for now, it is past my bedtime and after all, we have three weeks. Oh, by the way, I have ten internet connected computers in my science lab/classroom, a digital projector, vhs/dvd machine, printer, scanner, subscriptions to online resources, my desktop computer and then various handheld devices that belong to me and of course the students have mp3 players, cell phones, psp devices. Talk about ICT! Blended classroom experiences between old school and the new technologies exist and give us the necessary transition potential across the digital divide and into the 21st century. Back to bed--I got distracted.
Rob
In reply to Rob Johnson

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Gina Bennett -
Hi Rob, thanks for jumping in! I am also excited by the incredible potential of technology (especially the pervasive reach of the internet) to collaborate on data-gathering projects from far-flung places. Are you aware of any such projects currently underway, especially at the secondary school or undergraduate levels?
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Barbara Berry -
Hi Everyone,
I am Barb Berry and as a Program Director and Senior Instructional Designer with the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. I have a health science/nursing background (studied biochemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pharmacology, histology plus the nursing science courses). I have also worked as a nurse in acute settings and in public health. My graduate degree in adult education, focused on population health and health promotion. Currently, I work with the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU consulting on program and curricular design, practicum implementation, evaluation processes and the integration of technologies in teaching. This new faculty is involved in interdisciplinary course design and teaching at the undergraduate (BA and BSc in health sciences) and grad levels (Masters in Public Health and Global Health). The labs are currently being created and consultation with the bench scientists will begin by the fall. The courses involve lectures, labs and tutorials.

I am looking forward to participating with you in this seminar to explore what works and what doesn't and to share experiences, questions and problem solve some of the challenges in designing science education for undergrad and graduate levels.

cheers
Barb Berry
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Marsha West -
I have been teaching online for several years - first on secondary level (English lit), then with K12 teacher professional development (PBS TeacherLine). I also taught a course for Jason Foundation on improving Middle School science reading - so I have that connection to science.

But I am interested, generally, in the whole idea of rethinking teaching in all areas - and how to use the new tools effectively. I wrote and taught a course a few years ago on helping math teachers use interactive applications in teaching algebra - but, again, my focus was on training people to facilitate those courses. But I was fascinated by the little applets that were used in the courses.

So I'm mostly lurking here - reading and thinking about revisioning teaching via technological advances.

~~Marsha West
In reply to Marsha West

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Gina Bennett -
Welcome, Marsha! I recognize your face from other SCoPE discussions. I will be starting to teach an online algebra course for literacy level learners, beginning April 21st. The course, offered through AlphaRoute (using Moodle) is called "Letters for Numbers: A first look at Algebra". I'm not kidding when I say it's at a basic level, & I mean REALLY basic. I'd be interested to hear anything about your experience with interactive apps in teaching algebra.

I think to understand science (& I will include math in there too) requires that one develop a particular kind of thinking; almost a new philosophy. But how do we teach a new pattern of thinking? -- it almost requires a kind of 'imprinting' process (to borrow a term from biology). Given your experience, do you have any thoughts on that?
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Marsha West -
There are many interactive resources on the concord.org website. Concord Consortium and PBS TeacherLine were the team that created a course called Seeing Math which is intended to help secondary algebra teachers reach the "highly qualified" rating needed for NCLB.

Here's a direct URL to reach the interactives related to the secondary level course: http://seeingmath.concord.org/sms_interactives.html

But also go to Concord. org, click on Resources, and you'll find many, many wonderful interactives that relate to both science and math. Here are just a few: http://www.concord.org/resources/browse/251/

Have fun playing with the toys -- they are all free.

~~marsha
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Estrella gancedo -
Hello!

I got a degree in Physics and I started my career as a Secondary Science teacher in Spain. I had been teaching Science for 10 years when I felt the need of a real change. Then I went to the USA and worked there as a Bilingual Elementary teacher for almost 6 years. Upon my return I got pulled out of the classroom to do another kind of job related to ICT implementation in the schools of Extremadura, a region in the southwest of Spain, and this is what I currently do: promote the use of ICT in the teaching of Science.
I am very excited to be a part of this conversation!
In reply to Estrella gancedo

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Gina Bennett -
Estrella, welcome! I am sure we will all benefit from your real-world experience of promoting the use of ICT in the teaching of science. What kinds of ICT are you currently using in Science instruction? What kinds are you hoping to explore in the near future?
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Deleted user -
Hello,

My name is Erin Barley, and I'm the W Coordinator for the Faculty of Science at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC). This is a new position, and my role is to provide support for science courses that incorporate and emphasize writing in teaching. The pedagogy behind this 'W' initiative is that students will 'learn to write' (i.e., that well designed assignments will help students develop as writers), and will 'write to learn' (i.e., that writing engages students with course material and enhances their comprehension). I also teach General Biology and Evolution in the Department of Biological Sciences.

My teaching experience and my preference is to teach face to face. I use power point in lectures, overheads in labs and tutorials, and I can't imagine managing larger classes (60-300 students) without WebCT. But to be honest, I'm not a gadget person and I find the sheer volume of new teaching technologies rather overwhelming.

I joined this discussion because I was caught by the title "Rethinking Teaching in Science". I look forward to hearing about the experiences of other science instructors with various technologies, and to discussing the role that technology can and should play in teaching science.

Erin
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Estrella gancedo -
Since my field is Physics I will talk about the ICT resources we promote among our teachers.
In Physics I think that animations, simulations or virtual labs are the most useful resources we can use to support content delivered by the teacher.
They allow students to visualize phenomena in the case of animations, to perform experiments in the case of simulations or virtual labs and that is what science is about really: applying the scientific method to get to knowledge instead of just memorizing laws and equations.
There are many websites where we can find this kind of resources. I will talk about one of them: PHET , Physics Education Project of Colorado University, has Physics simulations that are free to use and download. I have created a couple of lessons using them adding interactive template-based activities so that students following the stages of the scientific method and using these simulations will arrive to Hooke´s Law in one case and Ohm´s Law in the other. You can see the one on Hooke´s Law translated into English although it takes some time to load...sorry
Other ICT resources are more like electronic books that just translate the regular content into electronic format: multimedia lessons with hyperlinks, quizzes... that can be used as "classroom textbook", class extension, self-assesment...
But most important in my opinion is that ICT can be used as a new way to learn:
  • projects that are shared through presentations, blogs, wikis... where students get to use digital devices such as cameras, video, sound recorders...,
  • in groups through collaborative applications such as Google Docs, Google Spreadsheet...
  • performing critical thinking activities that involve digital literacy skills such as search for information, selection, evaluation and presentation of new information. Webquests are an excellent way to do that.
I think that ICT should be used in the Science classroom to:
  • have the students learn science by "doing" science even if it has to be virtually and also to
  • turn students into "prosumers" that is consumers of information but also producers of new information created with the help of technology and shared with the world.

In reply to Estrella gancedo

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Gina Bennett -
Thanks for the great links, Estrella! I especially enjoyed playing with the java applets at the PHET site. There is something mildly addictive about being able to try the simulation from so many different perspectives and starting points.

You mentioned that ICT can be used in the science classroom to:
>> have the students learn science by "doing" science even if it has to be virtually (emphasis added)

Are you implying that learning science virtually is not as good an experience as doing it 'in real life'? If so, can you explain why you think it's a less valuable experience?
In reply to Gina Bennett

Re: Welcome to our Rethinking Teaching in the Sciences seminar

by Estrella gancedo -
In my belief there are two processes involved in learning science:

1-learning the facts, what i would call documentation
2-doing science, performing experiments following the scientific method to acquire real knowledge.

1-To retrieve updated information on the Internet is a fantastic way for its speed and reach.
2- Virtual scenarios to play with science can be very useful replacing the lack of possibilities for "real" scenarios where in my belief the learning experience is going to be more complete and real. After all, simulations or virtual environments just recreate reality following the laws of physics but we should not forget they are NOT reality. They can take into account as much (variables) as the programmer knowledge allows.