Monday, April 9, 2012

Thinkertools, a computer-based learning environment

Microworlds are another type of technology used to present problems. One example is Thinkertools, a computer-based learning environment that simulates aspects of Newtonian physics. Using the Thinkertools microworld, students can manipulate various aspects of the environment, observe the results, and attempt to discover the rules that govern this simulation.
Internet and videoconferencing technology allow students to participate in projects sponsored by researchers around the world. In the Jason Project, satellite and Internet technology bring classroom students into direct real-time contact with leading scientists, conducting scientific research expeditions around the globe. Each year the project explores a different location in order to help students understand the earth's biological and geological development. Some of the past expeditions have studied deep-sea archaeology, compared shallow and deep ocean habitats, studied plate tectonics and volcanoes, and compared conditions experienced in space and under the oceans. In addition to observing research activities, students are able to ask questions and get immediate answers from the scientists.
Whatever type of technology is used, an important goal is to create problem representations that are interactive and under the learner's control. The student creates a plan for investigating the problem, and the technology creates an environment that makes flexible exploration possible....


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