Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

E-learning in science?

  1. Jun 23, 2010 #1
    I wonder if anyone of you use Skype or another messenger to teach science (like math, physics, chemistry).

    What is your opinion about distance learning?

    Have you some experience in this topic?

    I am a math/physics tutor and I use Skype and videoconference platform, I would like to know your opinion about this kind of teaching.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2010 #2

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I haven't specifically used Skype, but I have taught math online, and participated in several teleconference-style online classes regarding advanced optics. For my math class, the course format was similar to Blackboard, and we used a version of a chat room (not live chat) in place of classroom discussion. The teleconference-style courses were remarkably similar to actually being in the room.

    Distance learning is great for some topics- topics where the student can learn most of the material on their own, and needs only to check in periodically to verify progress.

    What surprised me is that creating an effective distance learning experience required significantly *more* work- besides the ongoing IT issues, compensating for the lack of real-time interaction is a real challenge. It's much more difficult to keep the students interested, for example. It's much harder to have a spontaneous digression about a topic, or to explore more in-depth when a student asks a question.

    On the student end, teleconference-style classes were (IMO) made more difficult by the increased difficulty in getting the lecturer's attention when I had a question.
     
  4. Jun 23, 2010 #3
    As a course format I use Moodle, I think, that Moodle is more elastic than Blackboard.

    During the live teleconference I'm able to use slide presentations, multimedia and of course a whiteboard. It actually resembles a real lesson in the classroom. For discussions during lecture we use the live chat.

    You're right, it's hard to keep the students attention. I found that a lecture can not be longer than 45 minutes. But on one-to-one lesson (eg. Skype) I had longer lessons.

    You wrote "Distance learning is great for some topics". I think, that distanse learning is unsuitable only for some topics (eg. experimental lesson, measure exercises etc). In most cases, it's great.

    regards
    Bartek
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  5. Jun 24, 2010 #4

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    I've seen Moodle- and what I saw, I liked.

    Here's a question for you- what is the context that you are doing a distance learning program? I mean, are you dealing with students that can't physically come to your class, or maybe you are affiliated with a remote-learning program, etc, etc.. as opposed to "e-learning is the wave of the future" reason. What need are you meeting? What special value are you providing? Why are your students participating in your e-learning class instead of going to a "bricks and mortar" location?

    Distance learning is only going to become more popular. I want to make sure (meaning when the regents/provost/dean etc start soliciting ideas) that it *compliments* the classroom, not *replaces* the classroom.
     
  6. Jun 25, 2010 #5
    Well, I'm a freelanced tutor. My pupils have their own schools. Distance learning is necessary if they live in another city (or country - I have one from Ireland). Some of them I know personally, some are "virtual person". With them I've mostly use "live" methods: Skype or videocenference. Moodle is only the place to give them materials, test theirs knowledge etc.

    Last year, I've conducting a series of live lectures, that match the scope of a typical school syllabus. These were the free lectures open to all. I think it was a success - many of them significantly incease their rating. Parallel to the live lectures, I've created a course in Moodle. Course include all Moodle benefits: lessons, tests, seminars (workshop) etc.

    This was a experiment before project we prepare for autumn. We want to start with "virtual school". School for two kinds of pupils: primary for those who can't go to real school because of illness and for all who want to increase his knowledge. Course will be adecuate (parallel) to school program.

    I've conducted also courses for adult (about electronic signature and PKI). Accountants in Poland have to use e-sign in tax compilianse with US (polish IRS). I teach them how to use this gadget :-). They participated in lectures on the Internet because they do not want to waste time in traffic jams (or they are from different cities).

    There is no doubt that classroom teaching is better. Meeting online is worth using if it is not possible in the real world meetings. There are many such situations. For geographical reasons, for example.

    regards
    Bartek
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  7. Jun 25, 2010 #6

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    OK, I think I understand- you are doing this all on your own, not as part of a larger initiative?
     
  8. Jun 25, 2010 #7
    Cooperate with a number of training companies. But not as an employee, just help. Many organizations use e-learning. But in the traditional sense (tradition in elearning :biggrin:). They just want to have the LMS platform. My passion is meeting on-line live. I think that e-learning course, without such meetings are just a tutorial.

    regards
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook