"According to one recent report on human resources for science and technology, Europe needs some 700,000 more researchers if it is to become a world-leading knowledge economy by 2010. The question is how?
IST funded research projects may be able to produce solutions. Researchers are demonstrating how technologies when applied to science learning can help motivate and engage pupils and promote better take-up of scientific disciplines at school and university. The following eight IST research projects are focusing on technology-enhanced learning methods, in subjects as varied as astronomy, space research, physics, mathematics and the earth sciences.
- Simulating real space missions (ASH-Project)One project for example focuses on how to stimulate school pupils into studying astronomy and space physics by simulating real space missions. The learning environment in the ASH project is based around a control room (modelled on Houston?s Space Control Center) capable of displaying digital models, simulations, 3D visualisations and photographs of European facilities.
- Making the invisible visible (CONNECT project) CONNECT aims to explore, test and demonstrate an innovative approach that links schools, museums, research centres and science centres in extended episodes of playful learning. Four European museums have joined the consortium, and each has selected certain key exhibits to use in demonstrating the system. The CONNECT system is designed to superimpose 3D graphics together with other multimedia information onto the museum visitor?s field of vision. This additional information can be presentations (scenarios) that are designed to suit the various educational programmes that different students follow. The result is a kind of interactive film.
- Building cooperation between separated groups (COLDEX project)Enabling collaboration to foster scientific experimentation and modelling using IT is the aim of the COLDEX project. ?Our main concern is the community ? how to support exchanges between geographically separated communities,? says COLDEX?s Professor Hoppe of the University of Duisburg.COLDEX enables student groups, both within the EU and from Latin America, to collaborate in examining scientific experiments using so-called DEXTS (Digital Experimentation Toolkits), software packages of virtual and physical tools to support learning activities.
- Developing imagination and reasoning (ModellingSpace project)The ModellingSpace project brought together five universities across Europe to develop an open learning environment to facilitate modelling exercises for 11 to 17 year old students. The environment allows students to create multimedia presentations of scientific ideas, and makes use of modelling software developed in an earlier project, ModelsCreator, which was successfully piloted in several schools in Greece.
- A personal approach to maths (LeActiveMath project)A learner-centred approach is the tack taken by the LeActiveMath project. It aims to design a third generation intelligent learning environment to support Web-based active learning in maths, adapted to the needs and context of the learner by offering interactivity and personalisation.
- Have fun while learning (Lab of Tomorrow project)Another initiative focused on enhancing learning by making it fun. The Lab of Tomorrow project developed a number of tiny, programmable devices that can be embedded in clothing to monitor the wearer?s heart rate, running speed and a host of similar data. One device can even be implanted within a football. The result, for groups of 15-17 year old students, is that they can measure data such as the acceleration of the ball, and compare that data with a player?s heart rate, running speed, etc.
- Enhanced laboratory teaching (http://www.labfuture.net/)Developing a learning platform that uses a variety of communication technologies to enhance laboratory teaching practices, is the mission of the Lab@Future project. The platform makes use of mechatronic systems, augmented reality, mobile technologies and 3D multi-user environments to construct a virtual reality that enables students to interact with both real and synthetic objects in the same manner.
- AR visions of archaeological sites (ARCHEOGUIDE)ARCHEOGUIDE also uses AR. Its system makes use of a site information server, mobile units and a communication infrastructure to store and present all the data about a particular geographic site and its component parts. In the ARCHEOGUIDE project, the user interface is a pair of AR glasses or binoculars integrated with a multimodal interaction mechanism. Designed for outdoor use, the devices enable the wearer to walk around an archaeological site, and view AR-enhanced visuals and data about the site as it would have been originally. In addition the wearer may view related artefacts from museums and see the revival of the use of the ancient site while listening to synchronised and personalised narration.
These eight research projects that focus on the teaching of subjects such as astronomy, physics, earth sciences, mathematics, arithmetic all demonstrate how various devices and tools for both teaching and learning may be used in the schools of tomorrow."
Yes, also we in Malaysia can't wait to see the evolvement of these very unique projects, which can facilitate the teaching and learning process beyond borders. We can all learn from these projects and perhaps inspire us to do similar type of projects with a creative or innovative twist to suit other teaching and learning needs.
In short, such innovative projects can inspire us with ideas and thoughts, which might spark some other unique projects and innovations. However, before we re-invent the wheel or innovate, we need to learn from projects such as those mentioned above .