Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Signe Skovmand
  • Jens Dørup
4. term, Master of ICT and Learning (MIL) (Continuing education) (Continuing Education Programme (Master))
The Virtex project was conducted during the spring of 2005 as a master project under the Master in ICT and Learning education in Denmark. The aim of the project was to clarify “How a virtual learning product can be designed to function as an effective supplement to existing physics teaching in the first year of the Danish gymnasium” The theoretical framework for the project was the constructivist idea as originally developed and proposed by Jean Piaget (mental constructivism) and Lev S. Vygotsky (social constructivism) and further developed and refined by David P. Ausubel and others. In the Scandinavian perspective the project was inspired by earlier work on implementing the constructivist ideas in physics teaching by Svein Sjöberg, Henry Nielsen, Albert Paulsen, Poul V Thomsen and others and by a more recent work done as a PhD thesis by Jens Dolin. Before starting the development of the learning product we conducted an interview with a teacher who was experienced in the use of virtual teaching materials in physics. In addition we video-recorded a two hour session of the Physics Show – a kaleidoscopic series of experiments actively involving several pupils in a 1st year gymnasium class. The Physics Show is provided by university students from the institute of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Aarhus. Inspired by results of the interview and analysis of the video recordings we decided to produce a number of small learning objects in the form of flash animations, small video clips, quizzes, dedicated JavaScript calculators and more. Moreover, we drew the plans for construction of a web portal for organization of learning objects in physics and we constructed a prototype for this portal. The idea was to create a product that could be used in different ways by either teacher or pupils. The teacher should be able to pick out a few learning objects from the product and use them in his or her own teaching context. The pupils should be able to use the portal as a supplement to the usual learning materials. We especially wanted the portal to of benefit for the pupils when they would be working with a project on their own or in groups, a situation where the teacher might not be available at short notice. To test the use of the learning materials we designed a small project work on the Hydrogen Society and tested this in a gymnasium class. In this project we tried to implement constructivist teaching principles by allowing the pupils work with many different kinds of materials in addition to the virtual learning objects. The pupils were allowed to break apart some materials (e.g. a small electromotor) to study induction, magnetism and more. In the analysis of the product and its use we conclude that narrative elements may be effectively involved in design of virtual learning materials. However, in the design process, the active involvement of learners must always be kept in mind. We conclude that the product and the principles laid down in the project may serve as a basis for further work with virtual physics experiments.
Publication date2005
Number of pages47
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 6147252