Last week, Schoolcraft College Professor and YouTube blogger Jesse Mason posted his review of Saganworks after using it to host his physics class during the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch his take or read the transcript below!
I’m Jesse Mason and for this episode of Teach Me, let’s begin with the question: “What does the future of online education look like?”
Yes, everyone knows that billions and billions of eyes will be watching millions and millions of recorded lessons just like this one here. But what I really mean is: “What does the online classroom of the future look like?”
Well, I think I may have stumbled upon the answer back in March when all of academia was suddenly shoe-horned onto a computer screen. A startup in Ann Arbor called Saganworks gave me permission to debut their software with my quarantined Physics students at Schoolcraft College. The results were nothing short of transformative, and if you know any teachers they’re gonna want to see this.
Welcome my friends to the world’s first 3-dimensional virtual classroom. What you are looking at is the next evolutionary step in digital content storage. The familiar but flaccid 2-dimensional system of nested folders has been replaced by an intuitive and inspiring 3-dimensional space for storing knowledge. Knowledge items in this environment are organized on tables and shelves, and the space is fully furnished and meaningfully decorated- converting cold, computer-driven coursework into a warm and unforgettable learning experience.
Let’s take a stroll, shall we?
Greeting us as we enter the classroom is a jpeg of our school mascot the Ocelot. On the table below is a pdf document that jetlines the revisions I made to our syllabus when the course was moved online. Nearly all concepts were introduced asynchronously using recorded lessons, which can be found on shelves organized by topic back here. Here’s a little sample involved in some AC circuit components.
Of course, I also recorded demonstrations for them to watch like this one- and I left them a little love note at the end of this demo. You gotta do physics demos in a physics classroom.
Now as for labs, we had just a couple of experiments left in the semester so we did two recorded labs. Here’s one my kids helped me with.
Each lab had instructions to go with the recordings and students were expected to eyeball all the measurements using the video footage. After the lab’s due date, I uploaded the solution using the values I obtained. Of course, solutions to all our homeworks, quizzes, and exams were available in our virtual classroom as well.
Lastly, my students could interact with me face-to-face during our weekly Zoom meeting using Lincoln’s cozy little corner over here. I used our weekly Zoom meetings to work with the class on problem-solving, and to issue group quizzes using Zoom’s breakout room function. It worked really well. Now, if any students missed the meeting, they could watch the recording on the shelf right here.
I’ll play our last meeting to show what we did for our final project. Originally, groups of students were supposed to construct electric devices and present them to the class. You know, the classic physics project? But of course they couldn’t get together in person for the project, so instead they collaborated virtually using Saganworks’ browser-based builder and constructed these cool, educational exhibits to explain the history and physics of their devices. And then they gave guided tours to the whole class over Zoom.
It was awesome! My students weren’t the only one working on virtual exhibits though. Detroit’s sprawling historical museum, The Henry Ford, recently announced the collaboration with Saganworks on the construction of a virtual space for their vast collection of digitized artifacts. Given how beautiful this technology is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Smithsonian or Library of Congress followed suit.
Now, I have a half-dozen virtual classrooms to build before the fall, but my next Saganworks project is not actually academic. My wife’s grandfather passed a few weeks ago, and it was a difficult death for our family. He visited our home almost daily to help with the kids and share his love of candy with them. So I’ve started building a virtual memorial that our kids can visit from anywhere in the world to see pictures and videos of their beloved grandpop.
If your head is starting to spin with Saganworks ideas of your own, I encourage you to go to Saganworks.com and test drive their browser-based software- building doesn’t cost a dime.
Alright thanks for watching everybody, I hope you or a teacher you know finds this video and this technology useful. And until next time, happy learning!