Vernier Software & Technology launched the Connected Science System, which networked educator and student devices such as the iPad, iPhone, Google Chromebooks, and Android devices with LabQuest 2 this June. This means that its three major features – Graphical Analysis for iPad, Vernier Data Share, and LabQuest Viewer – became collaborative across devices and environments.
Today, Matt Anthes-Washburn, the Physics Educational Technology Specialist and product manager of Graphical Analysis for iPad and Vernier Data Share at Vernier, shares with us the benefits of the Graphical Analysis for iPad app, which allows multiple students to use iPad devices to wirelessly collect, analyze, and annotate data from Vernier’s LabQuest 2 in class or at home.
SC: What are its highlights?
MA: After opening the app on an iPad, nearby LabQuest 2 devices will automatically identify themselves in a list. Students in a lab group select their LabQuest 2 devices from a list and data are automatically broadcast in real time to every connected iPad. With this data, students can easily pinch, stretch and personalize the graphs; touch the graph to make selections; conduct analysis such as performing curve fits to the data; export data to Vernier’s Logger Pro software for further analysis; and more.
Graphical Analysis additionally allows students to easily keep experiments organized on their iPad devices with an included history feature that automatically saves each session.
SC: What primarily created the demand for the app?
MA: Many schools are finding that the use of iPad allows them to create a 1:1 learning environment with a device available for each student in a classroom. With Graphical Analysis, we wanted to extend the shared lab group experience of hands-on experimentation and data collection. Now each student has access to the data, which they can analyze and then present in their own lab report.
SC: The Vernier Data Share web app allows students to view graphs in real time on a computer, iPad, and more. How is this most effective in a blended learning classroom?
MA: The advantage of Vernier Data Share web app is that it works in a browser. There is no installation required and students can view and analyze the data on all sorts of mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets to notebooks and more. Many of the same analysis tools found in Graphical Analysis are also available right in the browser. Vernier Data Share even has offline printing and export features so students can finish their lab reports at home.
SC: The real-time access would allow students to view their work on multiple devices. How could this best be used in a BYOD (bring your own device) or 1:1 school?
MA: Students can work together to perform hands-on investigations and collect data from probes and sensors. They then instantly receive their own copy of the data. Through this type of collaboration, students analyze the data and create annotations to explain their results. Teachers can assess individual students’ understanding by viewing exported data and graphs or prepared lab reports. A teacher in a 1:1 program using iPad or Chromebook devices, or even laptops, can now easily give each student access to his or her own copy of the data and assess each student’s work individually. In a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) model, students can connect and retrieve the data, performing analysis and annotation on their own device.
SC: Students can take their data home from a lab or classroom lesson on any device. How would this be effective in a flipped classroom environment?
MA: In a flipped classroom, the hands-on investigations take place in class. At home, when students are reflecting on their work, viewing teacher-created materials, or writing the lab report, students can access an offline copy of the data and even perform analysis, create annotations, and print or export the data and graphs.
SC: Vernier has been on the forefront of iPad apps and other tools for STEM learning. How do you see these tools decreasing cost and increasing access to complex labs and STEM learning for students?
MA: The Video Physics app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is a great example of how we can increase students’ access to STEM learning tools just by using what’s already in their pockets. Many teachers have had the experience of telling students to put away their sophisticated phones and other devices with cameras, only to look around and say, “You know, it would be great if we had some video cameras we could use for this experiment.” With Video Physics, teachers can purchase a few codes to pass out in class and students can take their own devices out into the field, capture video and use the app to perform sophisticated analysis of motion. This equipment and software used to cost hundreds of dollars. Now, students and teachers can do a lot with what they already have available.
SC: We’ve seen a lot of virtual labs and virtual environments for “hands-on” STEM learning. Is there a place for this at Vernier?
MA: Simulations and virtual labs can be a useful way to simplify real-world phenomena to allow students to formalize their understanding of science concepts and they can offer a nice way to enhance the experience of doing science through empirical, hands-on investigation.
While we don’t provide virtual labs from Vernier, teachers can blend virtual and real-world approaches to give students many avenues to access STEM concepts for effective learning. For example, in my physics classrooms, I often had students build series and parallel circuits and use qualitative observation along with measurements from probes and sensors to investigate current and voltage. Later, an online simulation enabled students to reduce some of the messiness of the physical setup and formalize their understanding of principles of electricity. It also allowed students to practice circuit-building on their own time. This combined approach is far more effective than using either technique in isolation and helpful for some students who respond much better to one approach over another.