Individual Coursework – Learning Resources Used

To provide solid support, I used a number of resources for the individual coursework. This post will look at the methods used in critiquing resources and look at the justifications as to why I chose the resources I did.

Space.com

I made a number of references to Space.com throughout the website, including links to interesting articles such as “the top 10 extreme planet facts” or a “photo tour of the solar system”. I chose to use Space.com for a number of reasons, the main one being that they are a widely credited website and provide consistently well written and interesting articles on Astronomy. When I was looking for resources, a number of professionals on an Astronomy forum pointed me in the direction of Space.com due to their interesting daily articles.

National Geographic

National Geographic is great because they are a non profit organisation who provide a wealth of information on a number of areas, but more specifically scientific educational material on Astronomy and Physics as well as many other areas. Their magazines are widely recognised as outstanding, with awards being given for distinction in scientific exploration and research. To be perfectly honest, using National Geographics films and resources in my website was a bit of a no brainer.

ESA/NASA

The European Space Agency and NASA in the USA are a great place to find up to date articles on all things Astronomy. They are the national bodies of Astronomy in the UK and USA respectively, and for that reason using their resources had two advantages. First and foremost, as large scientific bodies they would provide up to date and (more crucially) accurate information. Secondly, using resources provided by ESA/NASA would introduce the reader to the organisations, which could inspire them to push their learning and understanding further.

New Scientist

Although New Scientist is not peer reviewed, it is still one of the UK’s biggest selling scientific magazines. Their website reflects the articles found in their magazines, and for that reason I decided to use some of their articles in my website. As with ESA/NASA, introducing the reader to New Scientist could have positive implications by inspiring them to either further their learning by trawling through the New Scientists website archives or by subscribing to New Scientists magazine.

KidsAstronomy 

This was a great site to use as it was specifically designed for children and would be great for those studying KS3 Physics. The best feature of their website is the interactive solar system, which allows you to see the orbits of all the planets and lets you click on a planet to be navigated to a page which shows information on the planet. The website was fantastic and engaging.

BBC

The BBC provided a number of resources to help my website. First and foremost, their television series Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe featuring Professor Brian Cox. Both of these series’ are inspiring, interesting and fantastic and I always wanted to use them in my website. BoB provided a way of integrating clips from the show into the site, so I jumped on it. The second resource the BBC provides to help budding Astronomers is their planet profile pages which feature a vast wealth of information on each planet and each feature of not just our local solar system but of the Universe.

Missouri University’s eThemes

Missouri University’s eThemes provides access to “content-rich, kid-safe online resources” by allowing the user to type in a keyword and viewing all available links on eThemes that feature that word. This website is fantastic and was of great help to me when I was looking for different resources on the planets. It did not disappoint, all the resources linked via eThemes was content rich and definitely appropriate for KS3 level children.

Resources for the website had to fit certain criteria in order to be considered for my website, these were as follows:

  • Relevant
  • Accurate
  • Up to date
  • Well written
  • Well structured
  • Engaging

There are thousands of websites and articles out there that just reel off facts which could be good for some things but for a KS3 aimed website, engaging content was a necessity. The website needed to provide resources that engaged the learner and inspire them to want to know more. Although I did provide an area where the learner could look for quick facts on a planet, the resources I linked to were usually more interactive.

Website Sitemap

Below is the sitemap for my website.

A Beginner’s Guide To Learning the Solar System.
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Solar System Simulator

This amazing simulator by NASA can render an image that will show you what its like to look at any of the celestial objects in the Solar System from any other celestial object. For example, if I wanted to see what the Sun would look like from the surface of Mars, it would look like this:

There is a crazy amount of possibilities. You can even view celestial objects from any of the outer space missions like Voyager 1 or Cassini.

If you want to try it for yourself, click here.

 

Image taken from NASA Solar System Simulator.

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Individual Coursework – Structure and Users

I have chosen to do my individual coursework on the Solar System. This is for a number of reasons, Astronomy and Physics has always been a passion of mine and I can talk about it for hours, which makes it a very good topic for me to teach.

The website will be primarily aimed at KS3 children but also at people who are interested in Astronomy but don’t necessarily have any background in the field. For this reason I will avoid using confusing language and try to keep the information clear and concise. The website should provide enough information to give the reader whatever degree of knowledge they wish to gain. If they are a child studying KS3 science and wish to use it as a support to their learning, there will be resources available to do this. Resources will also be available to those children who wish to go above and beyond KS3, as well as people with a limited background in Astronomy who wish to advance their learning.

I will be using a mixture between text and images to help with the understanding of the learning and will be splitting the information up into different categories so the user can navigate to anywhere in the site with relative ease. I will arrange the website with planets first, followed by dwarf planets and then the references/about me parts. The planets will be in order, starting with Mercury and ending with Neptune.

I have chosen to use a classic tutorial approach to the structure of my learning, with the following layout:

  • Intro
  • Basic Skills/Concepts
  • Intermediate Skills/Concepts
  • Advanced Skills/Concepts
  • Summary
  • Test

This structure has proven to be extremely effective and is the most common learning methodology. There are many advantages to using it, which are:

  • Users don’t get lost
  • It’s a familiar layout for users
  • Flexible
  • Fits in with instructional design (maximising effectiveness)

There is a relatively new concept to distinguish the difference between users of technology and specifically the Internet, known as Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants. This is also sometimes known as Digital Residents vs Digital Visitors.

A Digital Native is someone who has grown up with technology and as such speak the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet natively.

A Digital Immigrant is someone who was born before digital technology was widely available (or just appearing) and as such are in a constant struggle to readjust and learn new technology and terminology.

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A Model of Learning Objectives

Following on from my post on Bloom’s Taxonomy, I found this extremely helpful 3D representation of educational objectives created by Iowa State University.

http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching/RevisedBlooms1.html

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Blooms Taxonomy – Learning in Action

According to Benjamin Bloom, an American educational psychologist, there are three domains of educational activities:

  • Cognitive (Knowledge)
  • Affective (Attitude)
  • Psychomotor (Skills)
In his book Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals (1956), Bloom describes the cognitive domain as involving
“knowledge and the development of intellectual skills. This includes the recall or recognition of specific facts, procedural patterns, and concepts that serve in the development of intellectual abilities and skills.”
There are six levels to the cognitive domain, shown here in The Blooms Wheel.
The six levels are as follows:
  • Knowledge – The ability to recall information
  • Comprehension – The ability to understand the meaning or interpretation of a problem
  • Application – The application of what was learned
  • Analysis – The ability to examine information by identifying motives or causes
  • Synthesis – The ability to bring all the information together in a new or different way. Finding an alternative solution
  • Evaluation – The ability to present defined opinions by making rational and logical judgements based on the information found
Keywords:
Knowledge – Select, label, list, identify, name, locate, define, recite, describe, state, memorise, recognise.
Comprehension – Match, explain, restate, defend, paraphrase, distinguish, rewrite, summarise, give examples, interrelate, interpret, illustrate, extend.
Application – Organise, sketch, generalise, apply, prepare, draw, produce, show, choose, paint.
Analysis – Compare, differentiate, analyse, subdivide, classify, infer, point out, survey, distinguish, select, categorise, prioritise.
Synthesis – Compose, construct, originate, produce, hypothesise, plan, develop, create, design, invent, combine, organise.
Evaluation – Judge, consider, relate, critique, weight, recommend, criticise, summarise, support, appraise, evaluate, compare.
The six levels can also be known as:
  • Remembering
  • Understanding
  • Applying
  • Analysing
  • Evaluating
  • Creating
Useful links: 
Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals – Benjamin Bloom (1956)
Blooms taxonomy of learning domains – http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html

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Choosing a bibliographic tool.

When it comes to research, dissertations, thesis’ and other projects, there are many bibliographic tools out there which can be used for reference managing. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose which one to use, especially if you are new to the world of computerised bookmarking. This short guide will give an insight into the popular bibliographic tools available and will hopefully serve as a platform to allow you to pick the one that suits you the best.

If you are looking for a quick reference guide, Wikipedia offers an extensive reference management comparison guide here.

Mendeley

  • Free
  • Allows you to connect with other researchers and
    view the articles they’re collecting
  • Uses Mendeley Importer bookmarklet to import
    papers from research databases
  • Drag and drop .pdf’s into Mendeley and it
    generates bibliographic details from the .pdf
  • Mendeley Toolbar for Word allows you to insert
    citations and bibliographies into your research
    papers.

Zotero

  • Free
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • Integrates with Word to allow you to insert citations
    and bibliographies
  • Captures more than just articles. You can also add
    citations for books, web pages, images, etc.
  • Must use Firefox

CiteULike

  • Free
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • Purely online
  • Allows exporting to Zotero and Endnote
  • Promotes collaboration between groups and individual users

EndNote

  • Is not free and can be costly (some University’s give access to students for free)
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • Can export citation libraries as plain text, Rich Text Format, HTML or XML.
  • Can organize PDFs on the user’s hard drive (or full text on the web) through links to files or by inserting copies of PDFs.
  • Has various plugins for Microsoft Word such as Cite While you Write.

Source:

Sarah Lester. (2010). Citation Management. Available: http://lib.stanford.edu/files/CitationManagementPlus.pdf. Last accessed 10th Oct 2011.
Wikipedia. (2011). Comparison of reference management software. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software. Last accessed 10th Oct 2011.

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The beginning…

As part of my Educational Computing unit, I have been instructed to create a Personal Learning Network. I am using this blog as a platform on which I will create a list of the resources I have used and my opinion on them. Hopefully the resources I document here will be helpful to other people.

Once I have gotten to grips with this ‘ere WordPress, I will begin posting more regularly.

Sammy

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