BALANCED: Blossoms’ virtual lessons, blended with hands-on skills, will keep students engaged, write Zaini Ujang and Richard Larson

LEARNING should be enjoyable and interesting, especially to young people, and schoolchildren at all levels. Since learning can be regarded as a multi-dimensional experience, the learning of Science and Mathematics could be made more exciting and exhilarating.

However, in Malaysia, and even in many parts of developed nations, learning Science and Mathematics has been perceived as “difficult” and “hard to study”, resulting in declining interest in the subject.

This has now become a global phenomenon, despite many attempts to improve the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in schools such as engaging better teachers and adopting current and sophisticated tools in educational technology.

However, addressing the issue in meaningful and effective ways is necessary, and this is the main catalyst behind the inception of a Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-initiated programme, known as “Blossoms” (Blended Learning Open Source Science or Mathematics Studies) five years ago.

Blossoms is a series of free interactive lessons presented in an accessible video format. Blossoms’ video modules supplement the standard curriculum with virtual lessons.

These engaging videos will be co-taught by the video teacher and the classroom teacher in a pedagogy called “Teaching Duet,” which has several aims:

  • To enhance students’ critical thinking skills;
  • To instil interest among students about Science and Mathematics careers;
  • To show the relevance of Science and Mathematics in everyday life;
  • To introduce teachers to shared lesson plans via the Internet; and,
  • To enable students to learn from people in different cultures, thereby developing inter-cultural awareness and appreciation.
On Jan 8, MIT extended the partnership to Malaysia through an alliance with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) for five years, known as MIT-UTM Blossoms Project. This involves staff exchange between MIT and UTM, development of 20 Blossoms modules for this year, engaging 100 teachers from the Education Minsitry and conducting joint research and training involving 100 PhD students.   Read more….

 

Source : NST, January 17, 2013