Time-dependent Permeable Interface and IT-based Physics
Jin S. Kima and Keum H. Leeb
Education with interface and feedback. Any
system of interest is a part of a larger whole. There is an
interface between the system of interest and the rest of the whole. No
interface is perfectly insulating so the system interacts with the
rest, and the two develop together as one feedback system with changing
interface. An educational system/activity, surrounded/divided by
interfaces, is often characterized by space (classroom, school, country,
etc.) and time (class period, academic year, era, etc.) variables
and/or more complex ones (class subject, ethnicity, culture, etc.).
Hence the time-dependency and permeability of interfaces must be
taken into account for a better result. Thus, any education system
should have a feedback mechanism reflecting the societal change/need;
physics education is no exception.
Education is an interactive process involving knowledge
exchange between the educating and the educated. Developing societies
emphasize quantitative expansion of the educated population and productive
teaching with fewer streamlined courses. However, demand for a higher
quality and diversified offering follows when the paradigm shifts
from teaching to learning, including interactive-engagement (IE)
among teachers and students.
Paradigm of physics education. The
current wave of science education reform is driven in part by a post-cold-war
restructuring of the global economy and focuses on a more scientifically
literate society. Since physics is the foundation of modern science
and technology, physicists are in a unique position to educate people
in the basic concepts of modern science. Engineers need better education
in physics and industry needs well-trained physicists. However, data
indicate that we are not doing what we should. A drastic change in
physics education is in demand. Effective solutions have already
been offered, yet go unnoticed by large segments of our community.
Physics education can be more productive.
Research shows a wide gap between what a teacher teaches
and what the students learn and active-learning (AL), including interactive-engagement
(IE), is the key to narrowing this gap. Although AL without IT is
possible, the catalytic role of IT is well established. IT use is
a must for resource sharing at a distance and for IE among the teachers
and students in real-time.
IT-based and active-learning solutions. In
this era of knowledge-based economies, equal access to scientific
knowledge is a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development
and keeping world peace. The use of new IT in promoting AL and IE
modes of education, particularly through networking, will contribute
greatly to improving educational quality for all, regardless of any
barrier such as space and time, available funds/experts among institu-tions/countries.
It is no wonder that the Science Agenda - Framework for Action (World
Conference on Science, Budapest, 1999) stresses the UNESCO's leading
role in spreading IT use for science education.
The curricular solutions given below for introductory
physics are distinguished in that they are research-based and often
using state-of-the-art IT. The list is not exhaustive, merely representative.
- Advancing Physics1 is a new course
(with CDs) for AS and A level developed by the Institute of Physics
- Just-in-Time Teaching2 enhances
interactivity and responsiveness among faculty and students, via
web-based assignment turned in just in time so the faculty can
adjust his/her next lecture reflecting such inputs.
- Peer Instruction3 actively involves
students in large lecture courses by interspersing brief mini-lectures
with conceptual questions.
- Physics by Inquiry4 is an inquiry-based
course and it also can be used with a lecture-based course.
- RealTime Physics5 is a complete
set of interactive microcomputer-based labs.
- Tools for Scientific Thinking6 consist
of a small set of interactive microcomputer-based labs.
- Tutorials in Physics7 are a complete
set of carefully designed tutorials and may be used as labs/recitations.
- Workshop Physics8 is an activity-based
course without lectures.
Educational resource sharing. The
use of IT for education is too big a job to be done by a few people
or done in a short period of time and needs organized concerted efforts.
It needs continual updating, should be operated as a feedback system,
and needs help from non-physics experts. You need a depository and
clearinghouse for all the materials for resource sharing and quality
In resource sharing among different educational units,
be it inter-institutional or international, dedicated human effort
is essential for its success since the educational paradigm is position
and time dependent. The one-model-fits-all approach is not appropriate
and diversity has to be accepted. The Asian Physics Education Network9 has
been working for resource sharing to improve university physics education
in the Asia-Pacific region, with recent AL emphasis. It is to be
noted that the Korean Physical Society has recently been reorganized
for strong emphasis on education and strives for educational resource
sharing at the national as well as international level.10
- G. M. Novak et al., Just-in-Time Teaching (Prentice
- E. Mazur, Peer Instruction (Prentice Hall, 1997).
- L. C. McDermott et al., Physics by Inquiry, (John
Wiley & Sons, 1996).
- D. Sokoloff, P. Laws and R. Thornton, RealTime Physics
(Vernier Software, 1995).
- D. Sokoloff and R. Thornton, Tools for Scientific
Thinking (Vernier Software, 1995).
- L. C. McDermott et al., Tutorials in Introductory
Physics (Prentice Hall, 1998).
- P. Laws, Workshop Physics Activity Guide (John Wiley & Sons,
- AAPT Announcer, Vol. 31, p. 10 (Summer 2001).
*Supported by Korea Science and Engineering
aSecretary of Education, Korean Physical Society (firstname.lastname@example.org)
b Chair, Asian Physics Education Network (email@example.com)
This is a condensed version of the plenary talk
delivered at the International Conference on Physics Education
in Cultural Context (ICPEC, 13-17 August 2001, Korea), organized
by Korean Physical Society with support from IUPAP-ICPE, and at
the General Forum of European Physics Education Network (EGF2001,
6-8 September, 2001, K? (Cologne) Germany).