Author Archives: YooYoung

Engagement, Assessment, and Aid

Mr. S is a seasoned programming instructor and college student mentor. He works for a vocational college in Vancouver and teaches various programming languages and technology certification courses.  He is also a technology mentor for college students who seek career advice. Mr. S was interviewed through Google Hangout at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.

Incorporatin­­g well planned and tested technology to promote better engagement

Mr. S stated that “students will be engaged more in the class by doing and participating.” He uses coding exercises utilizing free IDE editors and free online code testing tools. He also distributes his lectures through Google Docs before/after the class, so that students can preview and revisit his lectures. He cannot stress enough that we need to be cautious on when implementing technology in the classroom because technology that is not carefully evaluated, and as result misapplied, can be a huge distraction. He also emphasized that the process of implementing technology should be quick and easy, so teachers can spend more time on class curriculum than on learning the technology. He firmly believes that the most important aspect of integrating educational technology is to create learning environments in which students actively construct knowledge in cognitive partnerships with technology (Hooper & Rieber, 1995).

Incorporating technology for better assessment

Mr. S discussed how challenging it was to incorporate assessment technology in his classes due to lack of tool availability in the school. He stated, “the college doesn’t provide the budget to buy any code testing software so I need to use free online code testing tools such as jsFiddle and Coderpad.” He was quite satisfied with the free online tools and said they worked great for his courses. Mr. S stated that the results from the shared coding exercise help him assess students and decide whether they need more tailored programming and supplemental activities.

Aid in gender and cultural differences

Mr. S discussed how helpful it was to implement individual weekly chat sessions using Skype/Google Hangout to remove cultural and gender barriers. He stated that “some students are very shy to ask questions in front of the class, so they prefer to use the chat session.” He added individual chat session worked well with female students as well as with students who hesitate to ask questions in public for cultural reasons. MR S. also mentioned that “This approach only works because the class size is small (15-20 students max).” He wouldn’t be able to offer students such sessions when class sizes are large.

In conclusion, Mr. S firmly believes that a well-designed and well-planned technology incorporation process is key for successful technology implementation in the classroom.


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.

Case 7 – Post-Secondary Applied Science Environment

The case 7 (Post-Secondary Applied Science Environment) presented important classroom issues that exist when delivering content in front of a large audience where students come from a variety of cultural backgrounds. The main student issues were participation, engagement, and real-time comprehension feedback for the instructor. The case presented a single technology solution, the clickers, that addressed these issues but also posed questions. The most important ones are:

  • Why is it difficult to integrate new technologies in the classroom?
  • What should the technology integration process be like?
  • How would the technology reduce or avoid student misconceptions related to the scientific concepts presented in class?

In exploring a response to these questions, I looked at some of the challenges the instructor and the students faced along the way as they adopted the technology. Let’s first take a look at the difficulties related to integrating the new technology in the classroom. The instructor felt some apprehension and nervousness during the first lecture when the technology was introduced. He thought it might not work as expected or might not be well received by the audience.

   The fact that students came from different backgrounds contributed to this nervousness. That meant the new concepts presented in class would elicit different reactions when the students were exposed to them. Some possible reactions that would exacerbate a learning challenge in the classroom could occur if the students became distracted by the technology, or if a majority of the students used the clickers to indicate they understood the concepts but in reality, they acted based on misconceptions or conjectures that remained hidden from the instructor.

   On the opposite side, the technology could, and in fact did, ameliorate the learning process by producing many positive effects. The clickers made the students work harder and removed the cultural reactions to the learning process because the input was collected anonymously. That increased participation, engagement, the speed with which the concepts were covered, and the level of real-time feedback for the instructor. The result was fewer unanswered questions, and thus improved understanding of the material.

Now, let’s examine the process of integrating new technology in the STEM classrooms. Most importantly, the process needs to be simple and easy. That means:

  • No complicated setups in terms of installation or configuration
  • Technology platform independence – the devices should work with what most hardware vendors offer Out-of-the-Box

When the technology meets these two simple requirements, it will make it significantly easier for instructors to overcome their apprehension and nervousness when introducing new technology in the classroom. The clickers meet the first requirement and I hope they would do well in terms of the second one (the case does not offer sufficient information to make that determination). The clickers (new technology) bring an added benefit: they empower students to politely say “Please, stop, repeat, and clarify. I did not understand.”, and to do so anonymously without the fear of judgement or ridicule.

As to student misconceptions, they can be addressed via a different set of technologies that capture students’ understanding of the concepts taught in class. The most common tools are blogs and forums that support discussions threads. Instructors can act as moderators by reviewing the discussions that take place in different threads and guiding students to the correct interpretation of scientific concepts. More advanced tools like Slack offer features like discussion channels, threads within a channel, audio and video conferencing.


What is a good use of digital technology in the math and science classroom?

I believe that the good use of digital technologies would help students learn science and math in more engaging and challenging ways.  For example, interactive virtual simulations and augmented reality would help students experiment and understand scientific concepts more inquisitively, in simpler and more engaging ways. Imagine that students can run chemical reactions or examine chemicals properties in the virtual environment. That would let them explore their findings further and apply the findings in real life settings to confirm the acquired knowledge.  This will also allow students to correct their privately held views or misconceptions acquired during science and math classes.


Conceptual Challenges and Digital Technology

My educational background suggests that many scientific concepts are taught only conceptually. Examples and hands-on application of knowledge acquired in courses were limited to available resources that were often inadequate and static – we did not have many opportunities to explore the concepts in real-life settings or play with these concepts in a virtual environment. This prevented us from understanding scientific concepts thoroughly. In most cases, the instructors usually stood in front of the class or showed videos as they taught the concepts. This was also well illustrated in the  “Heather’s challenges” course video.

From that video, I learned that students strongly hold onto their private scientific views. I see two reasons that contributed to the misconceptions of scientific concepts. The first one is that such misconceptions are often not challenged in schools during instruction, and therefore students continue to regard the misconceptions as true. The other reason is that students don’t have many opportunities to explore or examine concepts they learned in science classes. How can we overcome these problems?

We find some answers in scientific papers examining how the application of new technologies in the classroom can improve learning. So, “Does the medium change the Message?” The answer appears to be “Yes, and profoundly so” (Yazon, Mayer-Smith & Redfield, 2002). The WebCT content of the auto-tutorial genetics section was chunked, self-paced, and acquired collaboratively through peer interactions. These interactions were further enhanced via the instituted student help desk for individual and small group tutoring. The results of the study strongly indicate the course promoted independent learning and understanding as opposed to rote learning. In effect, the new method allowed students to experiment with the concepts through technology. It also provided valuable feedback, via the help desk, that challenged students’ privately held scientific views.

What else can technology do to address conceptual challenges? It turns out it can keep students more engaged with their learning through the process of gamification. This process improves flow and helps students form new conceptions faster and more accurately. According to Professors Dilip Soman or Nina Mažar from the Rotman School of Management, teachers can gamify learning content by following these five steps: understand the target audience and concepts, define learning objectives, structure the experience, identify learning resources, and apply gamification elements(Stephen, McRobbie & Tom, 2000).

So, if technology can facilitate and enhance learning, why isn’t it widely adopted? To a no small degree, it is because teachers’ conservative culture states that technology would make students lazy – pushing a button should not substitute understanding of the underlying scientific principles(Huang & Soman, 2013). These attitudes can and do change but progress is slow.

I believe that digital technologies – like interactive virtual simulations, videos, augmented reality, and gamified learning content – would help students experiment and understand scientific concepts more inquisitively, in simpler and more engaging ways.  


Yazon, J.M., Mayer-Smith, J.A. & Redfield, R.J. (2002). Does the medium change the message? The impact of a web-based genetics course on university students’ perspectives on learning and teaching. Computers & Education, 38(1), 267–285.

Stephen Norton, Campbell J. McRobbie & Tom J. Cooper (2000) Exploring

Secondary Mathematics Teachers’ Reasons for Not Using Computers in Their Teaching, Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33:1, 87-109, DOI: 10.1080/08886504.2000.10782302

Huang, W. H. Y., & Soman, D. (2013). Gamification of education. Research Report Series: Behavioural Economics in Action, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

From frustration to faith in Technology

My first experience with technology around education was writing a paper in my Bachelors using Microsoft Office 95. My major was Korean language and education so I had no idea about using computers back then. I started writing my paper in a blank word document and decided to save it to a floppy disk so that I can print the file at my school. Everything went great until my brother accidentally turned off the main power outlet. I was just devastated and almost cried since didn’t save the last 2 hours of work. I didn’t know about an AutoSave feature. Also, there was no YouTube to show how to recover MS word files back then. I was frustrated with the thought to starting the half of the paper again (there was AltaVista but no much-shared content on the Internet). However, I was so relieved to see the recovered file when started Word. I couldn’t thank you enough for Microsoft for the feature. It restored my faith in technology!

Hello from Vancouver

My name is YooYoung. I live in Vancouver BC and have a 10-month old daughter. It has been a real challenge to take care of her as a first-time mom while taking MET courses.

This is my 9th MET course. I learned a great deal about online education throughout the MET program. I am a senior IT application analyst and have been working in the technology sector since 1999. I have witnessed and experienced different stages of technological evolution in the past 17 years and believe that the advances in educational technology are the most interesting ones to influence our learning. Educational technology is ubiquitous and has a great impact in all learning areas. STEM education is no exception when it comes down to delivering content with the help of modern technologies.
I am taking MET courses because I want to apply what I learn to my future business. I am excited to learn, together with all of you, about the potential applications of educational technology in STEM education and to share my ideas and experiences with the class from a technological perspective.