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Topic: Frustrations

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Subject:   RE: Frustrations
Author: ihor
Date: Apr 8 2004

I just looked at Chucks example

and realized that my own learning of calculus might have been more fun if I was
able to do it with helpful applets to steer me along.

Looking at Chuckís work reminded me of an algebra program that Broderbund
marketed in the early 90s. At the time I was working with a group of high school
teachers who rated Algebra by Broderbund a close second to Geometerís Sketchpad
in terms of relevance for the classroom. There was nothing really special about
it Ė it was really just a textbook on a computer Ė except for one feature that
got everyone excited. At certain places in the software you could click on a
button and see a dynamic demonstration of the concept presented, or you could
interact with it by changing values via sliders and answer questions that were
based on your manipulation.  Sound familiar? Yes, it was very Java like well
before the Internet became prominent. Though the program was well received it
wasnít used much because the interested teachers wanted it in a lab setting
which wasnít always available. The program didnít sell all that well either and
never got past version 1.0. Expense was another problem. Site licenses were
needed. Etc. (Iím sure youíre familiar with the down side of educational
computer software.) Fast forward to 2004 and we have access to hundreds of
mostly free applets that do all kind of wizardry on the computer but donít come
with instructions as to how best to use them with YOUR kids. Thatís why Chuckís
example is so useful. It demonstrates one very effective way to use it for his
group of kids. It connects the curriculum (the written stuff) with the applet in
very straight forward, organized way without a lot of distractions thrown in.
(Of course, it helps if you understand what he is writing about. J )

Iíve been trying to do that with my projects here at Stevens where I try to make
applets (including Javasketchpad and Microworlds Pro) usable for middle school
teachers by connecting it to their curriculum.

Take a look at

Itís a work in progress.


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