Archive for July 14, 2010

The Molecular Workbench™ Platform

The most interesting software that my educational technology class discovered this last Spring was the Molecular Workbench from the Concord Consortium.  The enormous range of material and the power of their modeling package (used in teaching chemistry, biology, and physics) is impressive.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on the iPad, and there’s not really much there for mathematics or computer science learning.  It does serve as an interesting standard for what these kinds of tools might look like.  The Molecular Workbench aims to be a medium for science learning.

MW is not just a collection of simulations–do not be deceived by first glance. While it presents many existing simulations that are ready to use in classroom, it is, however, also a modeling tool for teachers and students to create their own simulations and share them with collaborators. There are very sophisticated modeling capacities hidden behind its simple user interface that empower you to create new simulations and even explore the unknowns.

via The Home Page of the Molecular Workbench™ Software.

July 14, 2010 at 10:16 am 6 comments

Google as champion of user-as-creator

Google’s App Inventor for Android has now been released, and they’re using the opportunity to emphasize how Google is champion of the user as creator, not just consumer, of digital media and software applications.  The NY Times highlights the contrast with Apple’s approach to the iPhone platform.

The thinking behind the initiative, Google said, is that as cellphones increasingly become the computers that people rely on most, users should be able to make applications themselves.

“The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project.

The project is a further sign that Google is betting that its strategy of opening up its technology to all kinds of developers will eventually give it the upper hand in the smartphone software market. Its leading rival, Apple, takes a more tightly managed approach to application development for the iPhone, controlling the software and vetting the programs available.

via Google’s Do-It-Yourself App Tool –

July 14, 2010 at 10:06 am 3 comments

Georgia State succeeding with women and robots

Stefanie Markham and Kim King had an ITICSE 2010 paper on Using personal robots in CS1 that speaks to their experience using the IPRE approach.  The robot did add an additional complication, as it has for most schools, but they also found that students spent extra time on assignments just because they were fun — an outcome that we see regularly in all the contextualized computing approaches, from Media Computation through Engineering problem-solving (where we have found that students start using MATLAB to visualize their multivariate calculus, unprompted.  It solves a problem for them).

Stefanie is also one of the leaders of the Grace Hopper 2010 conference to be held here in Atlanta, and she’s interviewed at the Georgia State website about her efforts to draw women into computing.

“It is so critical now that more women enter the field,” Markham said. “Technology is everywhere. We’d like to help more women realize their natural aptitude for computing and as they do so, it will change the face of technology.”

via Getting Women Into Computing — Georgia State University.

July 14, 2010 at 8:37 am Leave a comment

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