Workshop Introduction

Welcome to Using Interactive Java-Based Pedagogy in the Classroom  (W18).  After a brief introduction of the leaders and the participants, we will begin by having you complete a few Physlet problems as if you were a student in one of our classes.  We encourage you to work in teams of two or three on these assignments (even if there are enough computers for each individual).  Be prepared to give your reaction both as a student and as a teacher.

Assigning Physlet-based materials without properly preparing the class is likely to lead to frustration. Physlet problems are more challenging than traditional problems because novice solution strategies are often ineffective (since students cannot just plug and chug). In addition, small technical problems are bound to occur without testing. We use Physlets extensively in our introductory courses at Davidson College, but we always start the semester with a short laboratory whose sole purpose is to solve a Physlet problem in the way a physicist solves a problem; that is, to consider the problem conceptually, to decide what method is required and what data to collect, and finally to solve the problem. As a follow-up, we then assign a simple Physlet-based exercise that must be completed in one of the College's public computer clusters. This minimal preparation allows us to identify potential problems before Physlet-based material is assigned on a regular basis.