The disruption in education due to the COVID-19 pandemic has given educators an opportunity to rethink the ways we design and teach in both online and blended learning environments. Emergency remote teaching has shown us just how important it is to address issues of online inclusivity in general, and at the college level in particular. Over the past year and a half, we have had the opportunity to leverage Open Educational Resources (OER), open technology (H5P), interactive web resources, and create rich and interactive web experiences for our learners.
This guidebook will benefit STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) faculty teaching courses at the post-secondary level as well as the Open Educational Community. Within this guidebook, readers will be able to explore multiple resources, including some ‘ready-to-use’ ideas for classroom practice. Also included are specific examples of how STEM faculty have meaningfully integrated educational technology to meet the diverse needs of their students.
We invite you to explore innovative approaches used in teaching STEM within higher education and engage your own students through active participation rather than passive observation. We hope that you will be inspired to try new initiatives.
This book is written by authors from Community Colleges in Ontario — George Brown College and Niagara College — which provide a blend of theory and hands-on learning, as well as applied research, entrepreneurship, and social innovation opportunities. It is published under a Creative Commons license (see https://creativecommons.org/). We believe that knowledge is meant to be shared, and such sharing does not diminish value to its creator.
The Purpose and Scope of this Guide
The purpose of this guide is to help those who are involved in the process of choosing an interactive STEM resource (for blended or online learning) to make informed decisions by exploring some resources (tested by STEM teachers in their classrooms). This guide presents a range of online STEM resources for choosing hands-on activities. It does not contain a comprehensive survey of all available interactive resources, but rather, it provides a critical analysis of the presented resources and ideas for in-class use.
Although this guide is focused on interactive online STEM resources, we give some consideration to the broader scope of blended/online teaching and learning. This includes considerations related to: designing opportunities for active learning, ways of engaging learners, addressing diverse students’ needs, providing multiple means of representation of subject matter, ways of supporting learners in using online platforms, tools for the development of scientific literacy and global citizenship, and possible technology tools for developing both teachers’ and students’ digital and media literacy. All of these are considerations to be aware of in the process of choosing a resource for teaching and learning in the classroom (online, blended, or face-to-face).
In an effort to help make decisions about the adoption of resources, we present high-level descriptions of these interactive resources and some real-life examples of their use. Although, we are mainly focused on resources for blended or online learning, these resources can be used in face-to-face teaching as well.
Let’s briefly describe the main themes covered in this guide and its chapters. Part 1 serves as a foundational and theoretical base for the full book. In Part 2, we discuss our rationale for using virtual labs and simulations in science courses and provide an overview of three online resources that can be used for teaching and learning science and mathematics. In Part 3, we examine interactive technologies using multimedia to present information in the forms of digital maps, videos, and text. Also included in Part 3 is an overview of two resources and sample activities which illustrate the possible use of geomedia projects in an educational setting. In Part 4, we introduce resources for electronic and electrical fundamentals courses to illustrate the use of these resources as stand alone or in a blend with more traditional teaching methods. In Part 5, we consider resources that can provide learners with a hands-on experience in environmental science courses. Part 6 discusses H5P and faculty creativity in designing rich and engaging HTML5 activities for diverse learners.
Every resource in this guide — tested in our own classrooms — is accompanied by an overview of its main features, pedagogical considerations for using the resource, and a sample activity.
We hope this guidebook will not only be a great help for faculty teaching Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics courses, but that it will also support many of us who are still on the learning curve in our understanding of affordances of interactive online resources as well as how to create hands-on activities to engage and inspire our learners.