Client tasked Focus EduSolutions with creating interactives that would help students “learn by doing,” within their courses. Detailed analytics would be used to measure effectiveness of new pilot course. If benchmarks were exceeded, a full development phase would take place.

The Challenges

  • Client supplied Focus EduSolutions with a list of Learning Outcomes (LOs) that their current online courses routinely did not meet, as shown in formative assessments.
  • Client shared modules in need of revision with Focus EduSolutions
  • Formative assessment showed many LOs were not being achieved, one example was expressed as follows, “Predict the trajectory of an object given starting vector, mass, and speed.”
  • Looking at the skills practice embedded in client’s original course they were not meeting the objective of prediction. Without contextual information the learner was not able to imagine the algebraic expression as a real world event.
  • Instead of “predicting” a physical event the learners were either “solving” an algebraic expression or worse, “memorizing” mathematical steps.

The Solutions

  • Create a module within existing STEM courses that enables students to “learn by doing”.
  • Insert interactives into existing STEM courses that positively effects learner comprehension and retention on identified problem concepts.
  • To solve this Focus EduSolutions identified a bike jumping a ramp as a real world situation where the LO could be applied and then defined the variables in the situation.
  • The variables built into the lab corresponded directly with those in the equation being addressed. By manipulating the variables, the outcome in the virtual lab was effected.
  • Instead of solving an algebraic expression the learner was instead tasked with solving a real life problem using the concept taught.
  • The learner was given a more robust pathway to understanding and the learning outcome was fully addressed.

Project Execution

The Focus EduSolutions development team started with the LOs for the pilot course. Real life applications using the concepts derived from the LOs were identified. The real-life situations were paired with virtual lab tools so that the situation could be manipulated by the learner. Skill practices and assessments from client’s original course were used but, with added interactives, scaffolding, and using the virtual labs tools.

The content was not changed. What changed was how the learner interacted with it. Instead of matching a line as expressed in an algebraic expression to a coordinate map, the learner was asked to figure out the trajectory of a motorcycle off a ramp to safely land on the other side. The math was the same but, the content is not only made more engaging, the visual demonstration allowed visual and tactile learners more pathways to understanding.

After a one course trial to see if there was a demonstrative difference in learner outcomes, all benchmarks were exceeded and the project was green lighted for other courses to receive the same treatment.