Up to now, computer education has focused on teaching children and young adults the basics of how to use personal computers. Typically, pupils learned how to use simple, straightforward applications such as word-processing, spreadsheets, browsers and special education software.
However, such low-level applications make use of only a fraction of the processing power available on today's PCs. Modern desktop machines, even the most basic versions, are easily capable of processing complex problems.
Which is why the team in the e?COMODE project aimed to exploit the real power in modern computers to teach children. A far-sighted ideal, yet the team have developed a system that enables students to develop and model a range of different phenomena.
Take photosynthesis. This is a complex issue that is difficult to explain without complicated organic chemistry, a field that is one of the most difficult disciplines to teach. But by using models that demonstrate the relationships between sunlight, chlorophyll, water and nutrients, students can directly interact with a photosynthesis model that enables them to better their understanding much faster than with laboratory methods alone.
And they love it. "The students and teachers where we've piloted the system are very enthusiastic, and once the pilot ended they wanted to know how they could continue to use the system," says e-COMODE project coordinator Esther Casado.
e-COMODE is a market validation project for the system, which was jointly developed by a number of project partners. The University of Patras for example developed ModellingSpace, the modelling platform. Atos Origin developed the collaboration software. Other partners developed further elements of the system, including about 40 specific learning objectives that are particularly difficult for 10 to 17 year olds to grasp.
These learning objectives focused for example on areas such as medieval history, and the relationships between the social strata at the time. Another looked at economics and the relationship between different mobile phone price plans. Among mobile-mad teenagers, this particular programme was hugely popular.
The system does instruct in basic computer and data processing skills. But its real advantage is the way that it unleashes the true power of computers, and teaches the higher-order computer functions in a way that's fun.
The system creates an open, collaborative modelling environment, where models can be created quickly. Those models can be stored, helping to build a library of developed models. And they can be shared, which allows others to comment on the models or adapt them for other purposes.
The full service specification includes a modelling environment, guidance on teacher training, collaboration and communication services, learning materials, implementation guidelines and lesson plans. Support for the system can include online technical support as well as pedagogical and organisational consulting services.
e-COMODE was a market validation project cofunded under the EU eTen programme, and the team's job was to develop the service, pilot it, and analyse the market to establish the system's viability. Based on the feasibility study carried out under the project, the partners have adapted the service offering and are disseminating the results of their market validation, to show schools the benefits of the system.
The market validation survey revealed that the programme was popular among students and teachers, that it could be set up and deployed easily, and that the learning objectives were achievable. Now the consortium is working on marketing and commercialisation.
"There's a lot of enthusiasm among teachers, which is important," Casado says. "But most of the education authorities are public services, and we have to convince them of the value of our work. We're currently adapting the website so it has a more marketing focus."
The project ended in September 2006 and, given the work required to convince public services of the value of systems like e-COMODE, it could be some time before it becomes generally deployed. But the project partners have pulled off a real achievement – the system offers a step change in the vision for computers in the classroom.
Cloud technology: Dynamic certificates make cloud service providers more secure
15.01.2018 | Technische Universität München
New discovery could improve brain-like memory and computing
10.01.2018 | University of Minnesota
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy