Author Archives: YooYoung

T-GEM and Computer Simulation

A common misconception that students form when presented with the process of photosynthesis, is to think that plants obtain their energy from the soil through the roots instead of producing organic compounds through the process of photosynthesis. Several misconception studies revealed that elementary students tend to believe food comes from outside an organism. This may be common to animals but plants produce starches and sugars through the chemical process of photosynthesis. Often students form this type of misconception because they tend to imbue plants with human characteristics.

The following 5-step T-GEM activities prompt students to generate ideas about plant needs, share those ideas, go through a photosynthesis simulation, and then revisit their ideas in light of new knowledge obtained via the simulation, and then work in groups to create diagrams based on the re-evaluated relationship between what plants need to grow and survive and how plants manufacture food.

  1. Use the following questions to generate ideas:
    • What do plants need to grow and survive?
    • Why do you think those needs are important for plants to grow and survive?
    • How do you think plants obtain nutrients?
  2. After the activity, have students come up with answers and compile those answers in a Google Doc to share with the rest of the class.
  3. Exploring the computer simulation –
  4. Ask students to revisit their predictions in light of new information obtained during the photosynthesis simulation and to modify their predictions generated in step 1. Students can then reflect these prediction modifications in the Google Doc.
  5. Two parts:
    • Through group work, students re-evaluate the relationship between what plants need to grow and survive and how plants manufacture food
    • Following that students create a photosynthesis diagram with the help drawing software, like Cacoo, and share the diagram with the group.

Linn et al. (2004) have demonstrated that using the computer as a learning partner supports students’ mastery of concepts and ability to integrate knowledge. Computer simulations provide authentic learning experiences where students are afforded immediate feedback enabling them to refine and mature their evolving ideas, and take ownership of their learning (Lee et al., 2010). They promote active engagement in higher order thinking, and help students learn abstract concepts (Hargrave & Kenton, 2000).



Hargrave, C. P., & Kenton, J. M. (2000). Preinstructional simulations: Implications for science classroom teaching. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 19(1), 47-58.

Khan, Samia (2011).  New pedagogies on teaching science with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology 20, 3 pp. 215-232.

Lee, H. S., Linn, M. C., Varma, K., & Liu, O. L. (2010). How do technology‐enhanced inquiry science units impact classroom learning? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(1), 71-90.

Linn, M. C., Eylon, B. S., & Davis, E. A. (2004). The knowledge integration perspective on learning. Internet environments for science education, 29-46.

Authentic Learning Experiences with Virtual Field Trips and Interactive Virtual Expeditions

There are abundant opportunities to embed networked communities in STEM education. Especially, both virtual field trips (VFTs) and interactive virtual expeditions (IVEs) offer authentic learning opportunities for students in the classroom. Both technologies are valuable in terms of providing students with real-life experience and engaging learning process. Niemitz et al (2008) reported that “the use of interactive virtual expeditions in classroom learning environments can theoretically be an effective means of engaging learners in understanding science as an inquiry process, infusing current research and relevant science into the classroom, and positively affecting learner attitudes towards science as a process and a career (p. 562).”

In addition to authentic learning experiences,  virtual field trips and IVEs can take students to locations that are too far away to travel to or too expensive to visit. Virtual field trips can take a student back in time, into outer space, or into the microscopic world, all of which are tours regular physical field trips cannot offer.

The availability of these technologies enables educators to design experiences that some students would otherwise not have access. In so doing, these technologies enhance and extend student learning. For example, having students visit the North Pole via live animal cams or explore volcano sites through Volcano World enables students to experience these natural phenomena and animals in ways they would otherwise be difficult. This brings the student learning process to life. The process can further be enhanced when educators incorporate interactions with networked communities as part of these virtual experiences.

The research has found that students should be able to acquire the same cognitive and qualitative gains if a virtual field trip is planned and conducted in the same meticulous fashion as a real-life field trip. The researchers also reported that virtual field trips can enhance learning (Cox & Su, 2004) and provide a supplement to actual field trips (Spicer & Stratford, 2001).  VFTs can still “offer valuable tools for instructional augmentation and enrichment of actual field trips” (Klemm & Tuthill, 2002, p. 464).   As such, VFTs should not be seen as a replacement for real-world field trips but rather as a supplement to them when real life travel is possible.  

I believe that the success of virtual trips and expeditions depends on the level preparation for the learning experience and the quality of student engagement while on the trip. The trip should be followed by a carefully planned reflection to enhance the learning process (Cox & Su, 2004, p. 120).


Cox, E.S., & Su, T. (2004). Integrating student learning with practitioner experiences via virtual field trips. Journal of Educational Media, 29(2), 113-123.

Niemitz, M., Slough, S., Peart, L., Klaus, A., Leckie, R. M., & St John, K. (2008). Interactive virtual expeditions as a learning tool: The School of Rock Expedition case study. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(4), 561-580.

Spicer, J. I., & Stratford, J. (2001). Student perceptions of a virtual field trip to replace a real field trip.  Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17(4), 345-354.

Tuthill, G., & Klemm, E. B. (2002). Virtual field trips: Alternatives to actual field trips. International Journal of Instructional Media, 29(4), 453-468.


Embodied leraning & Virtual/Augmented Reality

From the three papers I read, I found the ideas of Embodiment, Embeddedness, and Dynamic Adaptation most intriguing (Winn, 2003). At first, they appeared to be very theoretical. However, it became clear these ideas had practical applications in teaching fundamental principles and concepts that can help computer science students deal effectively with learning algorithms and data structure. Let’s start with Embodiment. Being cognizant of algorithms and data structure are insufficient for triggering effective learning. Combining physical actions such as applying algorithms in real-life problem sets utilizing augmented reality can help students truly understand the subject. Then there is Embeddedness. Viewing a learning environment and the learner as one entity in which learning emerges as a property of the whole is immensely important for understanding how to design controlled scenarios that will enable effective learning. This latter process ties into Dynamic Adaptation that can influence the environment, the learner, or both. For example, a set of carefully designed learning scenarios that change the state of the environment in ways that require learners to adapt their knowledge in order to understand how algorithms (bubble sort, binary search, etc.) work and can also be used to prompt learners to introduce changes to the environment that will satisfy new sets of requirements that emerged from learners’ initial adaptation.

Lindgren and Johnson (2013) further reinforced the concepts of Embodiment, Embeddedness, and Dynamic Adaptation. In particular, number 5 and 6 – recommend Pair Lab Studies With Real-World Implementations and Reenvision Assessment – gave me valuable insights into how to achieve Embodiment and Embeddedness in the course of teaching students to visualize complex algorithms and data structure.

Dunleavy et al. ( 2009 ) informed my understanding of the affordances and limitations of AR environments. Such environments afford excellent collaboration and pattern matching but pose significant limitations, like the nascent stage of the software development and the inherent pedagogical and managerial complexity of an AR implementation (Dunleavy et al., 2009 ). Such factors need to be taken into consideration to achieve optimal Embodiment, Embeddedness, and Dynamic Adaptation.



What are some examples of current educational technologies that support embodied learning in computer science or math?

Could virtual and augmented learning environments harm social interactions in STEM education?



Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 7-22.

Lindgren, R., & Johnson-Glenberg, M. (2013). Emboldened by embodiment: Six precepts for research on embodied learning and mixed reality. Educational Researcher, 42(8), 445-452.

Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: Embodiment, embeddedness, and dynamic adaptation.  Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning, 1(1), 87-114.


4 TELEs’  Comparison & Synthesis

The four frameworks we explored in STEM education could be applied to all curriculum areas to guide educators’ effective use of technology-enhanced environments in classrooms. Each framework places the learner in the center of learning and promotes constructivism by construction of knowledge, promotion of critical thinking, analysis of information, communication and collaboration.  These skills are required for students to succeed in the 21st century.

The similarities of the four frameworks are 1. The role of the teacher as a facilitator, course designer, and motivator. TELEs require teachers to make a pedagogical shift in their STEM teaching from transmission of knowledge to collaborative construction of knowledge with the learner. 2. The frameworks promote constructive learning environments. 4 TELEs promote active learning that requires critical thinking, data analysis, investigate concepts and relationships, sharing and collaboration. 3. 4 TELEs use technology to aid the learning processes.

Utilizing technology in STEM education can have a great impact on student learning. However, we must have a clear purpose when utilizing technology in each course. The use of technology is to help students visualize complicated/abstract concepts, use real world data, practice and engage in real world applications through simulations, and even leverage virtual or augmented reality to enhance understanding. Technology provides students with the learning environment that allows them to control their learning process.



Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. Educational Technology, 33(3), 52-70.

Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385.

Khan, Samia (2011).  New pedagogies on teaching science with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology 20, 3 pp. 215-232.

Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206.

How do Plants Eat? – Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is one of the essential concepts to learn in biology. It is the key chemical process that produces energy for life. However, this complex chemical reaction that occurs inside of plants is complicated for most students to grasp.  Therefore, there are many misconceptions that students have about the process of photosynthesis.  A common misconception is that plants obtain their nutrients from the soil instead of producing organic compounds through the process of photosynthesis.

3 Step T-GEM 


To generate information about the process of photosynthesis, educators can begin a discussion with open-ended questions to measure students’ current understanding. The questions are:

  • What do plants need to grow and survive?
  • Why do you think those needs are important for plants to grow and survive?
  • How do you think plants obtain nutrients?

After the activity, have students come up with answers and compile those answers in a Google Doc to share with the rest of the class. As a group activity, students will discuss and attempt to predict what the relationship between what plants need to grow and survive and how they obtain nutrients is.  Once the discussion is complete, add each student group’s prediction to the corresponding Google doc


Students will explore how plants produce food through a hands-on experiment and by exploring a computer simulation:

A hands-on experiment –  “How Do Leaves/plants Breathe and produce food?” 

In the first activity, students record observations and gather answers to the question as a group 

Exploring the computer simulation

Students will explore the simulation. It is chosen for this phase is to help students visualize the process. According to Khan (2011), computer simulations can enrich generating relationships and can provide students and teachers with the opportunity to observe trends and variables, as well as visualize the process in more specific ways which may lead to enhanced conceptual understandings.


In this phase, students can modify their ideas after the evaluation stage. The phase provides students with a rich environment where they can work collaboratively to help explain the process utilizing technology. The following activities are included:

  • Ask students to revisit their predictions and incorporate their new information or modify their predictions in the Google doc created during the Generate phase.
  • Ask students to work in groups and re-evaluate the relationship between what plants need to grow and survive and how plants manufacture food.
  • Once the relationship is re-evaluated, ask students to create a photosynthesis drawing/diagram with the help of any drawing software and then share the diagram with the class. For example, students can use Cacoo to create a diagram and share it with the class.


Khan, Samia (2011).  New pedagogies on teaching science with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology 20, 3 pp. 215-232.


Applying LFU framework to introductory algorithm classes

After I reviewed LFU (Learning For Use) framework, I would apply the framework to any introductory algorithm classes utilizing technology – visualization software and flow charts ( – based on LFU three-step process – motivation, knowledge construction, and knowledge refinement (Edelson, 2001).

Encouraging students to get motivated to learn programming: It is vital to engage the students in learning activities that include algorithmic tasks that are close to students’ real life issues/tasks. This demonstrates the usefulness of the algorithm programming process and makes students curious, inquisitive, and hungry for new knowledge. To motivate the students to acquire new knowledge and be aware of their own challenges and how to solve them, I would apply different forms of scaffolding  – questions and group discussion regarding real life algorithm examples and programming experiences.

Promoting Knowledge Construction

Learning activities that utilize algorithm visualization ( may guide students toward activating their existing mental model and subsequently toward modifying it. For example, we can ask students, at first, to predict the results of simple algorithm exercises individually or as a pair and then address the results as a pair or within a group.  These activities will encourage new knowledge construction through pair and group communication. Also, it will provide students with an opportunity to observe other students’ knowledge construction process.

Knowledge Refinement

Edelson (2001) states that refining knowledge can be supported through the processes of reflection and application. The refining process enables the students to reorganize their knowledge and to link the newly acquired knowledge to existing one. In addition, the refining process supports knowledge retention, future retrieval, and use. For example, modifying a simple program appropriately, according to the software requirements, can bolster the refinement process through meaningful application (Edelson, 2001). Also, a peer review activity of code/algorithmic flowcharts can facilitate reflection through collaboration.



Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385. 10.1002/1098-2736(200103)38:33.0.CO;2-M

Photosynthesis with TELE: Virtual Experiment, Pintrest and Online Forum

The project I explored was “Photosynthesis: Initial Ideas”. I am not a teacher but customized the lesson based on how I would like to teach my daughter about photosynthesis when she grows up. I modified the lesson to incorporate three more activities – a real-life photosynthesis experiment, photosynthesis virtual experiment, and sharing the analysis of the experiment. The activities will provide students with an introduction to the scientific observation process, discovery, and analysis. The first activity was called “How Do Leaves Breathe?” –  a simple science experiment that students can run at home before class, without any technology.  The activity will encourage students to observe and discover how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis that is in progress, in a real-life setting. For the second activity, asked students to play with a photosynthesis virtual experiment. Playing with the virtual experiment will also help them understand the relationship between the level of sunlight and the corresponding intensity of the photosynthesis. During the process, students will inquire regarding plants’ energy transformation. Finally, the last two activities will be added after the first class is complete: 1) ask students to take pictures of the final results of their experiment and upload them to Pintrest so that students can share and compare their experiment 2) ask students to share their experiment story using the photos uploaded to Pintrest and to ask questions about photosynthesis in an online small group forum. This last step has three benefits:  firstly, it will alleviate any student misconceptions formed during the class; secondly, it will help students scaffold each other’s learning within a group; thirdly, and most importantly, the technology will be used to capture students’ reflections, plans, discourse, and results, in order to help teachers obtain a detailed record of how each student group perceives the project (Linn et al., 2004). The last two activities are important because, as Kim & Hannafin (2011) point out, “social-networking technologies foster a wide range of opportunities for scientists to collaborate and build knowledge simultaneously through distributed reasoning” (p. 414).

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206.


Video-based anchored instruction to enhance learning

The theoretical framework underpinning the development of the Jasper series is closely related to situated learning (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993). The creation of the series concludes that the traditional methods of teaching mathematics are inadequate for teaching students with the goal of achieving a conceptual understanding of mathematics. By utilizing anchored instruction, the Jasper Series attempts to create an engaging learning environment for learners that are actively participating.

As explained by CTGV (1993, p52) “the goal was to create interesting, realistic contexts that encouraged the active construction of knowledge by learners”. The series’ anchors were real life scenarios and not merely traditional math problem-solving activities. The learning was designed to encourage both learners and teachers to explore the content (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1993). The role of technology –  interactive videodisc – was to help students easily explore the content and encourage teachers to be a part of the learning community.  The series’ creators intended for a community of learning to be built. Therefore, learners and teachers embody the theory of constructivism.

Video technology promotes an environment of flexible, bite-size positive learning. Learning math concepts can be challenging if it is done with traditional methods. However, video instruction can accommodate a different learning pace for individual learners. For example stop, pause or rewind buttons can allow learners to go back to look at certain points in the content, and replay a segment until the difficult math concepts are understood. We can use videos tailored for bite-size learning. Videos are ideal for conveying the intended learning objectives very effectively in a short time span(Eades, 2015). A video is the most effective medium for communicating information in a short period and the most popular content consumed globally regardless of age (Nielsen, 2015). That means instructors can easily incorporate video technology in math classes and that there will be a short learning curve for both teachers and students because the format is universally accepted. Finally, video-based anchored instruction provides a more motivating environment that enhances students’ problem-solving skills (Shyu, 2000


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1993). Anchored instruction and situated cognition revisited. Educational Technology, 33(3), 52-70.

Eades, J. (2015, June 6). Why Video Is The Best Medium For Microlearning. Retrieved from

Nielsen. (2015). THE EVOLUTION OF DIGITAL VIDEO VIEWERSHIP.   Retrieved from

Shyu, H. Y. C. (2000). Using video‐based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.


Shulman (1986) defined pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) as blended pedagogy and subject matter knowledge for effective teaching. PCK requires educators who are knowledgeable about their subjects and who can teach those subjects in a clear and effective manner utilizing their previously accumulated instructional experience. Mishra and Koehler (2007) extended Shulman’s concept of PCK by introducing technology, an aspect that has become a crucial part of modern education. Educators practice teaching in highly complex, dynamic classroom settings (Leinhardt & Greeno, 1986) that require them to shift and evolve their understanding regularly. Thus, effective teaching depends on integrated knowledge from different areas: knowledge of student understanding and learning, knowledge of subject matter, and further, knowledge of technology. TPCK incorporates all the teaching elements educators need to understand to create an effective technology-enhanced learning environment for different types of learners.

One example of TPCK in a beginner programming class can be the use of Scratch. Scratch is a graphically oriented programming tool that can alleviate the steep learning curve or fear of programming as a beginner. Also, it helps learners understand difficult programming concepts easily.


Leinhardt, G., & Greeno, J.G. (1986). The cognitive skill of teaching. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(2), 75-95.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2007). Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK): Confronting the wicked problems of teaching with technology. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007 (pp. 2214-2226). Chesapeake, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.

Creating active learning environment with technology

Hooper and Rieber (1995) state that the most imperative aspect of integrating educational technology is to create learning environments in which students actively construct knowledge in cognitive partnerships with technology. Technology shouldn’t be the center of the learning. However, it should be tools to assist teachers in promoting better student learning experience.

When designing a technology-enhanced learning, educators/designers of classes should promote active learning approaches such as hands-on virtual experiences, collaborative projects, real-time formative assessments, and student-centered backchannel group discussions with help of educational technology. Firstly, hands-on learning using simulations, augmented reality and virtual reality can enhance the learning experience and help students grasp difficult concepts in STEM classes. Secondly, collaboration through technology in group settings can enhance students’ interaction, engagement, learning and reasoning skills in STEM classes. Thirdly, technology significantly facilitates the use of formative assessment – this is a frequent, interactive assessment of student progress and understanding (OECD, 2005). Formative assessment software can enable instructors to provide students with more personalized learning and to obtain immediate feedback to reduce misconceptions in STEM classes. Finally, group discussion utilizing backchannel chat software, like and Slack, can provide students with safe and secure class discussion environment that can encourage participation and engagement.



Hooper, S. & Rieber, L.P. (1995). Teaching with technology. In A.C. Ornstein (Ed.), Teaching: Theory into practice (pp. 154-170). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

OECD (2005), Formative Assessment: Improving Learning in Secondary Classrooms, OECD Publishing.