Remarkable progress has been made in the development and implementation of hands-on learning in STEM education. The mantra of See One, Do One, Teach One overly simplifies the idea but does provide a helpful structure to understand how many engineering educators are attempting to change the learning experience of our students. Until recently, this effort has been faced with a major limitation. We can easily incorporate traditional paper and pencil and numerical analysis, synthesis, and simulation in our classrooms. However, the remaining key aspect of doing the job of an engineer – experimentation – has only been included through the use of expensive and limited-access lab facilities. Small, low-cost Mobile Hands-On STEM (MHOS) learning platforms (e.g., mobile personal instrumentation and control devices like myDAQ, Analog Discovery and ADALM1000) provide almost unlimited opportunities to solve this remaining problem in engineering courses. Pedagogy based on these tools has been implemented and studied in several institutions in the US and in other countries, impacting thousands of students each year. In all cases in which hands-on learning has been studied, the pedagogy has been successfully implemented. This has occurred even in traditionally theory-only courses, resulting in more engaged students and instructors. Although the initial assessments of this new approach to STEM education argue for broad application, the definitive case for its adoption has yet to be documented so that all STEM educators can fully appreciate its merit.
The Center for Mobile Hands-On STEM is pursuing activities that gather strong evidence of the effectiveness of Mobile Hands-On STEM (MHOS) pedagogy on student learning and develop an effective and pro-active dissemination strategy for the entire STEM educational community. To achieve these goals, we have recently focused on:
• Creating and implementing new standardized assessment tools that measure student learning, especially through the development of new experimentally focused concept inventories, as well as measure ease of adoption by instructors.
• Identifying implementation barriers for wide-spread adoption and how these might be overcome by applying the business start-up methodology of the NSF I-Corps program, working with faculty who have recently received funding to implement the mobile pedagogy, and holding focus groups among different constituencies.
• Delivering a set of workshops for faculty and administrators on effective use of Mobile Hands-On Learning. The first was held at the 2012 ASEE Conference in San Antonio, the second at Georgia Tech in conjunction with the 2013 ASEE conference and there were two workshops the following year, one at ASEE and one at the American Control Conference. Other workshops were offered jointly with other projects, like the HBCU ECP project.
It is the last of these goals that has been the focus of the most recent activities of the center. We have been hosting a series of online practitioners’ workshops rather than the usual physical face-to-face workshop, because of the potential for wider and longer term impact. The workshops engaged leaders in various aspects of hands-on learning who developed videos that address issues associated with adoption and sustainability, key areas within engineering curricula where students gain significantly by engaging in active learning, a review of the models of adoption, etc. An exemplar video was created for use as a guide for those who were asked to develop videos on specific topics and as a video associated with the first online workshop. Workshops were held during the summer of 2016 with more planned for the 2016-2017 academic year. Workshop participants presented excellent applications of inexpensive hands-on learning and stimulated engaging discussions of best practices and remaining barriers to implementation. It is clear that while the new pedagogy enabled by MOHS learning platforms has produced some excellent results, it is only in its infancy with much more to be accomplished and many more communities to be served. This paper addresses what has been learned from the workshops both in how best to apply MOHS ideas and how MOHS should evolve in the future.
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