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Session 30 - Teaching Astronomy with the WWW.
Oral session, Monday, January 13
We describe our efforts at the University of Oregon to use Web Based Instructional Technology (IT) supplemented with interactive JAVA virtual experiments to change the standard pedagogy associated with large, introductory undergraduate classes in physics and astronomy. We begin by examining some of the problems associated with the standard pedagogy in these classes and how these problems motivated our development of networked courseware. Although we identify and describe five empirical positive outcomes associated with IT, we conclude that the use of HTML based course material and assignments does not substantially alter the standard pedagogy as this medium alone is not conducive to interactive exercises. To build interactivity into our courseware, we have undertaken a vigorous effort of creating JAVA-based experiments which are grounded in physical reality and duplicate the kinds of experiments that are done in the physical lab. In so doing, we build experimentation into a curriculum for large lecture-based classes in which the standard pedagogy and resource constraints normally preclude lab sections. The main goal is to create a networked environment where the student can easily retrieve the notes and the demonstrations that were done in class as well as to engage in experiments that are designed to illustrate basic principles. Our goal is to move to a more learner-centered environment which is driven by student inquiry. Specific JAVA experiments will be demonstrated during this talk.
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