An Interactive Learning Tool for Early Algebra Education: Design, Implementation and Evaluation
Adam Scharfenberger (The Ohio State University)
Co-authors: Siva Meenakshi Renganathan (The Ohio State University), Christopher Stewart (The Ohio State University), Arnulfo Perez (The Ohio State University), Rashmi Rao (The Ohio State University)
Interactive learning tools allow students to explore STEM concepts deeply, improving educational outcomes. Interactive tools that use cloud computing resources can (1) explore computationally intensive concepts and (2) seamlessly link concepts to graphical representations. When these goals conflict, good design, and implementation principles are needed to (1) preserve interactive response times and (2) uphold curriculum goals. For this paper, we present an interactive cloud-based learning tool that allows students to interactively explore algebraic formulas, their corresponding graphs (including axes) and generating data. Our tool prioritizes the following design principles: (1) co-design curriculum and interactive systems support, (2) efficiently collect and share student activities between students, teachers and researchers, and (3) integrate with existing classroom management platforms. Our implementation employs a careful division of work between client-side browsers and cloud servers to provide response times that are within human perception limits. We achieve these design goals by (1) client-side programming for interactive components, (2) sending student activity data to servers at different rates for different sharing types, and (3) align student’s data with moodle’s (a popular open source classroom management system) schema. Twenty Math teachers were trained to teach Algebra to students using our interactive service. Over eighty percent of teachers trained with our system adopted it. We provide students response times (1) with interactive graphing less than 15 ms (2) data transfer times of 95% below 0.6 seconds. More broadly, our system has received positive feedback as we have scaled it to over 5 schools and 500 students.