I was recently tagged on LinkedIn to respond to an interesting question.
Virtual learning has recently received a lot of attention for a variety of reasons. The pressure to move all learning online has created some interesting challenges, but with it, also opportunities to design and create innovative solutions. Creating learning programs focused on developing knowledge in skills in science, whether it is face-to-face or online is still the same. We look to help our students construct their understanding of large concepts, confront misconceptions, experience the world around them, make connections to society and learn to apply these skills into new contexts.
Creating #multisensorylearing opportunities online requires some ingenuity – to think about how your instructive content might bring the experiences of student alive in their own homes, their environment, their own contexts. By creating activities that draws from nature and the world around us. The beauty of science, is that it is truly everywhere. Some of the most simple contexts creates some magical science learning opportunities. As I respond to this post, I see a glass of water on my table… I think about the opportunity to bring this simple context to life in a science lesson – from chemistry to physics to environmental science and biology. Part of our work as science educators is to help our students see the world a little differently – to see it through different perspectives – to see it as a large science experiment in which we are all participants. To have them learn to wonder and be curious… to question.. to investigate… to create solutions to interesting problems… and to think critically about what they learn. What kinds of prompts can educators provide in a virtual world to help them imagine themselves as scientists and engineers? I do want to note here that the context we choose to highlight needs educators to to think critically about how the context selected might be accessible for our learners. Is the context perpetuating a stereotype? What students are you including? excluding? How might you build options and diversify entry points into the learning from a variety of contexts?
I see how short videos can be created to capture some interesting everyday phenomena to spark a lesson. I see how students might be prompted to notice the simple to investigate the complex.
Simulations have come a long way in the virtual world. I have however, found that the question prompts that are often provided as “teacher resources” are closed ended questions and insufficient. I believe there is an opportunity here to enhance how simulations are used to build more scaffolded, deeper learning opportunities connected the simulations currently available in education.
Over past 2 months, I have started a new role at Lassonde School of Engineering and we have been creating Pre-University Math, Physics, Chemistry and Introduction of Computational Thinking and Coding course for our incoming Engineering, Computer Science, and Earth and Space Science students. Over the next year, we will be continuing to enhance these programs.