Smart Education Photometer
… expands experimental teaching and learning with intelligent technology.
Experimental learning is indispensable for conveying science content in a comprehensible way in school lessons. Experimental materials are constantly being developed and offer new didactic possibilities. For example, researchers are working on an intelligent photometer at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern (TUK). In addition to its function as a measurement and experimentation platform, it is also capable of storing user paths in order to subsequently optimise the teaching and learning experience by means of artificial intelligence. The researchers will be presenting their “Smart Education Photometer” project at the Rhineland-Palatinate stand (A35, hall 6) at Achema from 22 to 26 August.
Basically, the Smart Education Photometer (SmaEPho) was developed with analogies to a photometer that is already used in science and technology lessons at secondary and vocational schools (desklab gUG, Schriesheim). The system can be used to determine substance concentrations in solutions – for example, ion concentrations in water samples. An interchangeable LED with a specific wavelength is used to irradiate the sample to be measured. A measuring device detects the part of the light that is not absorbed by the sample and converts it into a measurable voltage by means of a small circuit. A third component, a microcontroller, measures this voltage, processes it and displays it as optical density on an integrated display. In this way, students also learn how the measurement technology itself works.
The concept of TUK researchers now moves a decisive step further: By turning the device into a research instrument at the same time, they want to improve experimental teaching and learning with the photometer accordingly with the benefit of smart technology. “We can track everything that happens on the device because the SmaEPho transmits the user paths to a digital twin in real time,” explains Frederik Lauer, who is working on his doctorate at the Institute for the Design of Microelectronic Systems. “This tells us when which cable was plugged into which socket on the breadboard or which of the LEDs was in the measuring device when.” A number of research approaches are thus available, for example on adaptive learning. Research questions regarding the adaptation of learning content to the preferences of the learners can be considered and, for example, it is possible to answer the question of how frequent user errors can be avoided. Moreover, it is possible to comparatively assess the didactic quality of teaching concepts. This would provide teachers with additional information that would help them to design teaching units with the photometer more effectively.
Specifically, what can be accomplished with the recorded user paths? Lena Geuer, who is working on her doctorate at the Chair of Bioprocess Engineering, gives an example: “Currently, the app provides an additional digital representative layer that visualises and records all modifications to the physical SmaEPho in real time. This functionality forms the basis for a multitude of further visionary projects: One envisaged possibility is that we offer the learners user-specific assistance in a digital twin or in an AR environment. We want to use the collected user data to train an artificial intelligence that can recognise different sources of errors, deficits and support needs and generate appropriate help or hints that are visualised on the digital twin.
The SmaEPho takes a further step towards the digitalisation of teaching and learning materials and forms a platform for use in diverse research areas. The idea for the smart photometer emerged from U.EDU, a project of an initiative called “Quality Initiative Teacher Education”, with which TUK is strengthening its activities in all phases of teacher education. Lauer and Geuer determined the usefulness of the SmaEPho through a usability study with students. “The positive results regarding the usability of the SmaEPhos lay the foundation for the use of the hardware for a variety of further, building research questions,” says the PhD student.
At Achema, interested parties will have the opportunity to get a practical impression of the intelligent photometer and its extended digital possibilities by means of a demonstrator.
The U.EDU project is coordinated by the Centre for Teacher Education (ZfL) of TUK, in which the project is structurally integrated. You can find out more information about U.EDU on the overall project homepage https://www.uni-kl.de/uedu/.
The project “U.EDU: Unified Education– Media Education along the Teacher Education Chain” is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the joint “Quality Initiative Teacher Education” of the Federal Government and the Länder.
Questions related to the Smart Education Photometer sub-project can be directed at:
Prof. Dr rer. nat. Roland Ulber
Phone: +49 631 205-4043
Lena Geuer (M.Ed.)
Phone: +49 631 205-5477
Frederik Lauer (M.Sc.)
Phone: 0631 205- 4181
Questions related to the overal U.EDU project can be directed at:
Prof. Dr-Ing. Norbert Wehn
Project Manager U.EDU
Phone: +49 631 205-4436
Prof. Dr Jochen Kuhn
External scientific support U.EDU
Background: “Quality Initiative Teacher Education”
The aim of the Quality Initiative for Teacher Education is to further develop the quality of teacher education in studies and teaching by supporting innovative concepts. A stronger interdisciplinary orientation and the involvement of schools are intended to bring teacher training closer to practice. The Federal-Länder Programme also takes greater account of the challenges of heterogeneity and inclusion as well as teaching and learning with digital media. For this purpose, the Federal Government will provide up to 500 million euros for the Länder and higher education institutions until 2023.
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