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We have been involved in the use of technology in education since 1984. In 1989 Eric Mazur published "The Essence of Physics", an interactive software package that provides an interactive tutorial summary of a one-year introductory physics course. The package includes interactively solved problems and interactive problems. While the The Essence of Physics won the AIPs first Annual Computers in Physics contest, the program did not incorporate any findings from Physics Education Research. In a sense, the foundation for the program was the standard approach to teaching, all of its flaws included!

Since 1990 we have been involved in using technology to help change education. First we developed Project Galileo, a portal to educational innovations, such as Peer Instruction and Just-in-Time-Teaching. We also helped pioneer classroom networks to help instructors poll students in Peer Instruction lectures. Currently we are working on various web-based approaches to help instructors worldwide to implement innovative teaching methods. For example, the Interactive Learning Toolkit (ILT) is a fully developed learning management system that allows the instructor to develop courses and monitor the students progress.


In collaboration with other innovators in education we are working on integrating the ILT with a fully interactive classroom system that can use a broad variety of devices, from infrared 'clickers', to cellular phones, to wireless PDAs and laptops. The goal is to combine a server-based course and content management system with a laptop-based interactive classroom.

NO MAGIC BULLET
Methods of presenting information in large lectures have changed over the years; from the blackboard, to the overhead projector, to the television, and now the computer. The problem with education, however, is not the method of presentation -- it is the assimilation of material presented. Unfortunately most early uses of technology in education focused on the presentation of information.

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Say no to PowerPoint

Our efforts are aimed at using technology to enable new modes of learning -- to make possible what hitherto was not. For example, we have developed ways to facilitate communication between instructor and students and between students both inside and outside the classroom. The goal is to provide a structure that is conducive to learning and helps both instructors and student focus attention and the areas that require most attention.

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