Cyberspace Technology in College and High School Classrooms

In colleges and universities, experimentation with cyberspace technology and “newtechnology classrooms” is beginning. Computers have already made their way into the traditional college physics laboratory, most significantly in the acquisition and analysis of data. In addition, many college instructors make themselves available to their students via e-mail, enabling questions and discussions to be undertaken at the convenience of both student and instructor. Literature searches are now often done electronically.

These developments have implications for the education of secondary school students currently engaged in the advanced study of physics. Various computer software programs are available for the tasks of communication (electronic mail, browsing on the Web, presentational tools, text editing, slide presentation [e.g., Power Point], and IR [infrared] personal response) and computer-assisted conceptualization (modeling environments, spreadsheets, symbolic manipulation, mathematical graphing, computer-aided design, simulation and visualization, and data collection and analysis). All of these tools are used for a wide variety of research carried out by physicists. The panel recommends that these modern research tools be introduced as extensively as possible into advanced high school physics programs. The panel notes that many high schools are already using a number of these tools, especially software for data acquisition and analysis.

Communication Among Constituencies with an Interest in Physics Research or Education

The rapid speed of communication via CIT presents new opportunities for a closer relationship between the physics research and teaching communities. Many researchers at universities, government laboratories, and other organizations have created Web sites that are freely accessible and designed precisely for the purpose of making their research more available to the general public. The same can be said for the American Physical Society and other professional organizations of physicists.

It is therefore possible, as never before, to introduce topics of ongoing research to secondary school students currently studying advanced physics. Using CIT, researchers can best communicate the excitement of their research activity as they grapple with the scientific problems that lie at the boundaries of knowledge in the field. This excitement, when transmitted properly to students, can be a tremendous motivating factor leading them to consider scientific research as a career.

In addition, the Web allows easy access to university physics courses from outside university classrooms. Many professors offer Web-based mechanisms for their own students to monitor their courses. Often, course syllabi, homework assignments and solutions, and the like are made available via an appropriate Web site. Such mechanisms also offer exciting new possibilities for more closely linking physics instruction within the universities to that in secondary education programs. The panel recommends that CIT be used in the teaching of

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