Jiva Technology

Well this is exciting ..

One of the things about education that can be a little frustrating is that .. well it doesn’t change much. Evolution of teaching methods can feel a little slow at times.

Science education has seen a burst of activity with YouTube channels set up to offer video tutorials and explanatorials (I just made that up), but how radically different is that from a class room? Not much in my opinion. Its good that you can run through things 2, 3 or 5 times if you don’t get it and you can look for different explanations of the same thing, but does it really fire the imagination? Well, just hold my coat because I thing the world of science education is about to see a significant step forward and given the important of science and technology to our society and the need to get more people excited about science, it feels like a pretty big thing.

One of the biggest barriers in science education is the role that teachers play versus your own experimentation. Its a given that finding out something for yourself is a much deeper learning experience than someone standing at the front of class and telling you what they know. “I know a lot and your job is to get that knowledge out of me”. Which is why experiments play an important role in science. They’re the cornerstone of the scientific method, but they’re messy, can be dangerous and you usually need specialist equipment. To say nothing of the expense for cash strapped education systems. Which is why I’m excited about the development of virtual labs and virtual experiments. Labster, PheT Interactive and LabXChange look like a big step forward. Students can experiment for themselves in the sort of virtual worlds they’ve become used to with gaming. Different students can run different experiments and even the most dangerous and outrageous experiments become possible. If anything is going to fire the imagination of the next generation of scientists, it’s this. Pilots train on simulators, so why shouldn’t scientists?

All three platforms bring the skills and experience we’ve acquired from the likes of Halo, World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto and bring them to the service of science education. And whilst I’m sure none of them are going to displace any of those titles from the best seller charts anytime soon, innovation that makes science education more effective, more fun and more engaging has to be a good thing.


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