Quantum leaps in blended learning: an online project for physics students

Kate Wilson, Paula Newitt

Abstract


This study followed the experiences of a group of students in a second year quantum mechanics course as they undertook a short project to develop a web site. Typically, ‘blended learning’ is used to refer to the provision of a mixture of face-to-face and online learning and assessment activities by the teachers of a course. In this case, it was the students themselves who were engaged in developing online resources to be shared amongst the class, and beyond.

The students worked in small groups to develop web sites introducing some aspect of quantum physics to a wide audience. The project required students to find their own topic, form their own groups, determine what would be on the web site, and agree on how they would go about creating it. Most students did not have previous experience in web design, and group members had to attend external tutorials to gain the necessary skills. The assignment was monitored through reflective diaries, focus groups and observation of online discussions.

Students found value in the assignment well beyond the developed understanding of an area of physics. They learnt useful skills in information and communication technology, including web design, they developed a stronger sense of community within their class and a stronger sense of identification and community with professional practitioners within the discipline, including their lecturers.

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