Online learning ideas / general thread

Debate and discussion of any biological questions not pertaining to a particular topic.

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Online learning ideas / general thread

Post by janahana » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:22 pm

I think you can break the school experience down into three parts:

Information intake -
Go to school, hear teacher talk, read/copy excerpts from textbooks and sheet handouts

Revision -
Ask teacher for clarification, discuss with friends, do homework, write notes and summaries, do further study at home

Progress assessment -
Get homework marked, do assessments, if you fall behind the teacher will tell you so you can get back on track, or you get held back/take extra classes/tutors or even fail the class

I never did any science subjects at school, but after seeing some science documentaries I got kind of annoyed at how much I missed out, and wish I had been more interested in school when I was there. Anyway, I'm now taking a high school level biology course. But before I started taking it I already did the basic biology course on a website called I got a good overview of the subject. Basically the point of the thread is that all of those three things can be incorporated into a website. Here are some free online education websites I've looked at.

'Course' websites
These three contain a structured course outline that you follow and they have assessments.
Not too much information, not really any detail.
Has a multiple choice test at the end.
Here's a look at the biology course outline (its cut-off).

Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative -
More complicated subjects, more detailed information.
Contains tests for each module.
Contains every maths unit in the Australian high school curriculum.
Here's a look:
The website is flash based, and each lesson is a video similar to khanacademy's (but way less messy).
Its tests after each lesson are multiple choice (but the way they've done it is pretty much infuriating.)

Lessons, but not courses - similar to mathsonline but for plenty of other subjects.
Videos only.
Masses of long lecture videos from different universities for many different subjects. Good detailed lecture notes and some animations.

After looking at these websites, their big weakness is that they don't cover point 2 (revision). Of course you can go to other websites to get any information you need, or go to flash card websites but the point is that it would be better if it was in one place, on the same website.

Here's how those flashcard websites work. Basically you have a set of terms and their respective definitions. e.g:
Mitochondria - The organelle that generates energy for the cell in the form of ATP
Nucleus - The organelle that contains the DNA and controls the processes of the cell
Lysosomes - An organelle containing digestive enzymes

And now you can learn these using various methods. Basic flashcard system where you read the term and then flip the card. If you recalled the definition correctly then you click 'correct'. At the end you get your score of correct and incorrect.
But you can do anything with these definitions.
Take the website
Example set of flashcards:

First you study the definitions. This includes 'learn' and 'test'. 'learn' consists of typing in questions (instead of just clicking 'i was correct/incorrect'). 'test' consists of four question types, written questions, matching questions (two columns, match answer to question), multiple choice questions and true/false questions.
You can also play two games with the definitions, but the website has more games. You can turn the definitions into hangman, crossword, a target game and more.
Example definition stack:

If a website were to incorporate point 2 (revision) into its course, it would need all of these things, but also as a sub-feature, point 3 (progress assessment). Point 3 stands on its own with assessments that cover the entire subject and each unit, but you should also be able to assess how well you have done with the flashcards, e.g:

This week you have done two flashcard stacks:
1) Cell organelle functions
You attempted it x times for an average score of y. (with a message like "keep on trying" or "almost perfect" or something depending on what score you got.)

2) Taxonomy
You attempted it x times for an average score of y.

So here are the three points updated for a schooling website. It needs to have all of these things.
Information intake -
Go to website, take in as much information as you can (text, animations, videos).

Revision -
Flaschard games for each unit, with your progress recorded so you know how many definitions you have remembered. Summary notes/videos/animations.

Progress assessment -
Assessments after each unit and at the end of each subject

I just wrote this up while I was sitting here and it's probably all over the place, but whatever. I need some input. I don't know if I want to create this myself, or get a team together, or pay some other people to create it or what. It's just an idea I got and I wanted to put it down and build on it with more ideas.

First, is this a good idea for a website?

What are some good websites that I missed, but could take some ideas from?

What kind of website would it be? It would be collaborative. People would have to prove themselves before they could add anything though.

Who would support it? I think since those flashcard websites obviously get enough traffic, there are obviously a lot of students out there who want a website like this. Tutors and teachers would support it too, for a place where they could put their notes and direct their students to do extra learning.

Why? I think learning is good.

I know I posted this on a science website because biology is what I learned on the internet and spurred me on to pursuing further learning, but if it's a collaborative website, any subject would be supported. Science subjects, language learning, history, etc.

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Post by janahana » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:51 am

Basically I think a website like this would be good. Any thoughts?

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