|Informatics for Secondary Education - A Curriculum for Schools (ED/HEP - pii-iip - IFIP - UNESCO, 1994, 103 p.)|
Informatics can be of considerable value in the teaching of many subjects of the normal curriculum at the foundation and advanced levels. This section gives examples which teachers will wish to use themselves or when promoting informatics more generally with other teaching colleagues. Students will also find these examples a stimulant to their own work in other subjects as well as an enrichment of their informatics studies.
Teachers may find that by integrating the use of computers within subject areas, most of the Computer Literacy objectives can be met without the need for a separate course.
Students of the Advanced Level Unit GA3: Applications of Modelling, will find that earlier experience of using computers in other disciplines provides a good background to their work, as well as good starting points for more advanced subject oriented modelling techniques.
Students can use a word-processor to type their reports of experiments and research.
Desk Top Publishing (DTP)
Students can use DTP to produce attractive looking documents, especially those requiring a combination of text and graphics.
Students can use graphics software to prepare illustrations, with or without labels, which can later be imported into DTP documents; or which can replace the usual method of preparing hand-drawings.
Students can use spreadsheets to tabulate and calculate results of experiments; or for manipulation of variables to see certain effects that can be more clearly and quickly demonstrated with the use of spreadsheets. Students can also request various types of charts to be plotted from values entered into a spreadsheet.
Teachers could prepare templates to assist students new to spreadsheets; or prepare spreadsheets which have values already entered in order to illustrate effects from the manipulation of variables which is appropriate for work on simulation and modelling.
Students can create databases such as the characteristics of chemical elements in the periodic table, characteristics of plants, insects, and mammals; and interrogate these databases to find relationships and commonalities. As a first step, teachers could prepare databases into which students can add data.
Robots and Feedback Devices
Students can build robots and use robotics to perform experiments, particularly in physics.
Using mechanical, temperature and other probes to monitor experiments, and feeding the readings directly into a spreadsheet, helps to obtain more reliable results and makes classroom work more realistic. Several software tools exist which take readings, interpret them and present them graphically.
Students can use computers to communicate with other students on a local network, or with students in other schools both locally and overseas. This enables data to be gathered and shared with others, for example rainfall and Ph values in different countries or particulars of insects unique to a region.
In Physics and at times in Biology, students can use external devices to record sounds, and use computer analysis to study sound waves and patterns .
Expert systems written by students may be of little value but students learn so much from writing such a system that it should be attempted wherever resources are available. One expert system well within the scope of advanced students predicts the result when two chemical elements are mixed.
Modelling and Simulation
The "Three-mile Island" disaster can be simulated in every classroom without any danger to students. Even when students have performed or withnessed a demonstration, repeating the experience through modelling often gives them further insights.
Students can use presentation software to generate slide presentations of their projects, experiments and research findings to large groups in class.
From doing repetitive calculations to showing patterns in certain number manipulations, spreadsheets can play an important role in mathematics at most levels.
Specialised graphics packages are available which show the graphical representation of any given function. Also there are software packages which allow geometry problems to be presented on video screen.
Using suitable software tools takes the pain of hours of calculation out of statistics and provides important analyses. The complications of manual calculation often make real-world examples too difficult to handle; with a computer, realistic situations can be analysed more readily.
Computer Assisted Design (CAD)
Some CAD packages can be used in some aspects of geometry as substitutes for graphics packages.
Modelling and Simulation
Students can use simple modelling packages, such as Mathematica, to gain insight into mathematical functions.
The most common use is to create letters and others documents.
Teachers or students can create Close reading texts, texts with missing words and texts that need punctuation, plural or another tense. Arranging a story in chronological order, or completing a story or an outline are other valuable applications.
Desk Top Publishing (DTP)
Apart from creating newsletters, newspapers and posters, students are extremely fond of using available graphics to create attractive documents.
Being able to illustrate what they produce gives students an impetus to write. Students will appreciate ready-to-use graphics, and the high quality graphics they can create themselves. Some programs combine the power of a simple DTP package with sophisticated graphics.
For students the control of a robot through commands in a foreign tongue is often a most satisfying task even with a limitated vocabulary. For example, Logo is available in English, French, Spanish, Greek, German and a number of other languages.
Nothing seems to be more motivating for some students as communicating with a native speaker of a foreign language in a distant country. The availability of e-mail, bulletin boards and computer conferencing has made instant communication possible. However, communication by (posted) disk and word-processor document should not be ignored.
Speech Recognition and Synthesis
Given the right software, students can compare their own pronunciation with that of the synthesised model, both oral and visual.
Given the correct tools, students can write programs which use the rules of an expert system language or manipulate the language. For example, a simple expert system could he written to change English nouns from singular to plural.
Given a suitable language (Logo, Boxer, Lisp, Smalltalk) students can easily write their own expert systems as indicated above.
"OUTSIDE BACK COVER" - AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO READING
This is an example of an inter-disciplinary project which helps to meet some of the Computer Literacy objectives and links students and teachers in school with information scientists and librarians.
Students write a "fourth outside back cover" which is a summary of a book recently read with the purpose of giving others the longing to read it (this is not a matter of marketing!).
Typing the Summary
Students use a word-processor to prepare the text, adding personal information about themselves, their class and their school, as well as keywords, ISBN number and an abstract which could be used by school or local libraries. A complementary activity could be a book of the month selection.
Students collect contributions from other students in the same or different classes or schools within their region to create a database of reviewed books.
Students interrogate the database for their next reading choice, to get or order a book from the librarian, or to link with the database of the school documentation center.
Any subject requiring reports, essays and other documents can make good use of a word-processor, a graphics package and desk top publishing software. Advanced students will be able to draw on variety of information sources to prepare multimedia presentations.
Spreadsheets and Databases
In the study of social sciences, spreadsheets and databases serve the same purpose: to enable students to systematise and organise information. For example, students could make use a spreadsheet to make a list of dates, events, countries and persons involved. This list could then be organised by date, by country or by the person's name. Such lists make good study aids. Younger students like to collect information, and will enjoy setting up a database, for example on facts about all EEC countries.
Students can use e-mail and disk mail to communicate with residents of places of historical or geographic significance.
Especially when studying Geography at an advanced level, students may need to use a statistical package.
Students of Geography could write expert systems on such mailers as the conditions needed for a village to be established and to flourish as a regional trade center.
Some graphics packages allow for the creation of original artwork. However, art teachers are more interested in the way in which they can create patterns, complementary patterns and patterns with variety. For example in textile design, computers enable students to see an overall result with less effort than by any other method.
Desk Top Publishing (DTP)
In the design of posters and other printed matter, using DTP ensures a professional product in minimum time, with the option to re-use or modify a design at will.
Programming languages with a graphics interface, such as Logo, allow for the creation of intricate patterns with minimum of effort. The graphics part of such a language should be included in design courses.
MUSIC - GENERAL OPTION UNIT OP10 GIVES A FULLTREATMENT OF THIS DISCIPLINE.