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With the development of science and technology, more and more educators believe that visualizations are a very useful and influencing method for students to learn physics. Many schools got great success on using technology in the Physics classrooms. The Denver School of Science and Technology, a public charter high school where most students are from low-income families, provides a laptop to each student to learn in their classes. 1:1 laptop program makes Denver School of Science and Technology get high scores in sciences examinations. Another example of using technology is the studio course in Georgia Southern University. Georgia Southern University opened studio courses of Physics since the fall of 2006. Now, there is no traditional course of Physics in Georgia Southern University. Overall, using technology becomes a trend of teaching in classroom today and in the future.
Technological Innovations in the Physics Classroom Today and in the Future
With the development of science and technology, using technology becomes a new trend of education. Using technology in classroom produces new literacies. People 's views on new literacies vary from person to person. Some hold that bringing technology into classroom will cause bad effect. However, others believe that new literacies will bring more benefits to students and educators. Taking into account all these factors, I may reasonably come to conclusion that using new literacies in classroom is an inevitable trend in today's diverse teaching environment and have shaped today and future's education. There is no doubt that using new literacies has its drawback as well as merits, but we must realize that we couldn't abandon using new literacies because of its demerits. "Restructuring Introductory Physics by Adapting An Active Learning Studio Model" by Gatch gives us a message-Georgia Southern University began to offer studio courses of Calculus-based Physics since the fall semester of 2006. Georgia Southern University gets great success now. In "Teaching and Learning Physics in a 1:1 Laptop School" by Zucker and Hug, the Denver School of Science and Technology runs '1:1 laptop' program since 2004 and improve their scores of Physics examinations. These two articles tell us using technology is one of parts of teaching in Physics classes.
Although somebody have negative view on using technology in classrooms, I believe that educators should become familiar with concepts of using technology in fact. Traditional Literacies as writing, reading, listening and so on couldn't perfectly handle the physics classes. Some students couldn't understand the complicated concepts and principles of Physics. For those students, it is very difficult and boring to remember and understand the concepts and principles. In Georgia Southern University, the Physics department makes a big decision in the summer of 2006. The department began to offer studio courses to introduce Calculus-based Physics from the fall semester of 2006. The studio courses combine the lecture and laboratory courses. In these courses, the professors use digital related devices to be visually able to determine the boring concepts and principles. Students could visualize the difficult concepts and principles of Physics. For example, a professor uses a powepoint presentation to explain how magnetic field is created in a solenoid. During the class, students were assigned a computer simulation activity to complete. One of students thought the object of this simulation helps students to understand the magnetic field in a solenoid. On the other hand, in a traditional setting studying the same materials, students reported that "they just visualize the magnetic field from professor's two-dimension chalkboard drawing".
We also can know the studio courses of Calculus-based Physic are more attractive than the traditional courses from the change of registration. There were 7 traditional sections and 2 studio sections in the fall semester of 2006. There also were 8 traditional sections and 2studio sections. One year later, the number of traditional sections decreased to 5, and the number of the studio sections increased 4. Since the fall of 2008, there was no more traditional sections of Calculus-based Physics. There are 9 studio sections of Calculus-based Physics in Georgia Southern University. The traditional section of Calculus-based Physics is a historical record in the GSU. All of these indicate that using technology is accepted by students, teachers and school leaders. From the great success of the studio courses of Calculus-based Physics in GSU, we can see the positive impacts of using technology.
The concept of using technology is to train students for new Literacies. New Literacies can be defined as the ability to use technology in the today diverse workforce. New Literacies don't change in the skills required for traditional Literacies but only add new dimension to the elements of Literacies. In today's education, technologies have directly changed the teaching. Colleges provide many programs to enrich teacher candidates with new Literacies. Using technologies help teachers to motivate students and train students for new Literacies. Using technology also makes teaching easier. New Literacies are concentrated by today's education. In "Teaching and Learning Physics in a 1:1 Laptop School", we know the Denver School of Science and Technology began to loan ninth grade students in 2004-2005 school year. The DSST make all grades students to have a laptop now, and students can use the laptop during teachers' teaching. DSST prepared different pedagogies and curriculums of physics for different level students. Each student is taught basic skills of new Literacies from his or her ninth grade. In a survey, one of ninth grade students described his enjoyment of physics work that used technology. The technology assignment that I have been most proud of is my physics labs, because our physics teacher has a template to help us with writing the assignment. And to type it up and drop it in the digital drop box the next day makes me feel more successful in classes". We can students learn basic new Literacies from their Physics laboratory assignments. One of twelfth grade students said, " The technology project I am most proud of my catapult design for AP Physics which I made with Solidworks(software) so that it was correctly dimensioned and with moving parts, to use as a blueprint for the actual build which is currently in progress." From this twelfth student description, we can know they gain lab design skills. During the four years school life in the DSST, students are accomplished with much more independence in using technology.
With the demand of computer applications, more and more computer applications are produced. The computer applications serve teachers' own and their students' needs. An example of using technology in the DSST is an AP Physics experiment of freefall motion. One of twelfth-grade AP Physics class, students were divided into seven groups to do freefall lab in hallway. Their technological tools included motion sensors, force meters, cameras and student' laptops. All students use LoggerPro in some way to collect and analyze data. Some of students used cameras to record videos and loaded to laptop. LoggerPro is a datalogging software used in all of the Physics labs. Then, they used LoggerPro software to analyze the videos to measure speed, acceleration and other phenomena. They used Microsoft word to write a lab-report and use a Texas Instruments graphing calculator software to calculate the data. Students were perfectly motivated by new Literacies to learn freefall. A twelfth grade Physics teacher said, " This is a great example of using a text that is on a computer. There are boxes to click with cartoon movies; students can listen as well as watch." New Literacies brought lots of conveniences to teachers of the DSST. Even if the leader of the DSST believes that using technology has been highlighted by experienced researchers as important for learning science.
All in all, I'd better come to the conclusion that technologic innovation gets great success in Physics classes, so it must be realized that it is time that we start the trend. To support learning science through digital devices, teachers should realize the importance of the feedback in a new Literacies learning environment. Using technology have good outcome in this two schools. We can forecast that technology will be widely used in Physics classes in the future from these two articles.