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   Fri. Mar. 30, 2001, Philippines
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READ PART 1 OF THIS SERIES

Note: This page has been bodily lifted from the INQ7 website of March 30, 2001 and pasted here.

    Dr Queena Lee-Chua's description    

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Home >> Infotech >> Inside Science >> Mind Games

Celebration of Science:
Computers in Education

(Second of four parts)

THE SCHOOL of Science and Engineering of the Ateneo de Manila University held a weeklong celebration of science three weeks ago. Selected faculty, graduate students, and undergrads received awards for outstanding research and teaching innovations. Last week we looked at how computers were used in genetic analysis and modeling physical systems. Now we discuss how they are used to enhance the teaching and learning process.

Dr. Nina R. L. Rojas of the Chemistry Department designed a website to enhance understanding of protein structure of students in her biochemistry course. This includes having the ability to access the latest developments in the field. Though there are myriads of sources on the Web, she believes that they are "not necessarily easy to use." She therefore developed her own site with the following objectives in mind: "to introduce students to sources used by working scientists, especially those at the interface of chemistry and the life sciences, to encourage and facilitate problem solving by students by giving them access to primary data and literature in the field, and to develop computing and Internet skills, and a critical appreciation of the information available on the Net."

With the help of P. R. M. Quiambao, who developed a tutorial introducing the protein database and other information, Dr. Rojas developed the Proteom series CD, which includes shareware packages, among others. Feedback from her students has been gratifying. "They have found it a useful learning tool, but many have also used the tools to develop their own materials. Some students have started taking the option of submitting term papers as web pages, complete with animated molecules. Most students have found the tools useful for drawing macromolecules that they discuss in their various papers, seminar, and other academic requirements. As the number of tools grows, it is our plan to include more additions to the Proteom CD and the website, especially to take advantage of the various genomics and proteomics tools that are becoming available."


Reminiscent of the computer mindset, the philosophy behind Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (Scada) was utilized by Mr. Tristan H. Calasanz, a new faculty member of the Electronics, Computer and Communications Engineering Program. "His experience in this specific field of Scada is enormous, considering that he worked with the industry for many years," muses Dr. Rosula Reyes, director of the program. "His primary objective in employing this method of instruction is to provide the students a venue where they could work together as a team and still maintain their individuality. The students were assigned to work on specific modules that were part of the total system to be developed. Mr. Calasanz had to supervise the individual work of the students while teaching them the technical aspects of each module. Since each of the modules is a part of the whole system, the students were also taught the value of time management, decision-making and responsibility."

"Teachers are active participants, not only in the students’ learning process, but also in their own," affirms Calasanz. "They assume the role of facilitators and resource persons." To this end, he teaches with the following principles in mind. I believe they apply not just to the classroom setting, but also to the workplace, the playing field, and any endeavor where humans come together.

  • Freedom to Think -- "The classroom is the platform for the growth of human beings. Teachers manage this platform in such a way that they create an environment where the human being’s freedom to think is unleashed and enhanced."
  • Theory Z -- "The group performs best if they participate in all aspects of the decision-making and implementation of a project."
  • Signature -- "Each person wants to be part of a successful project, and affixes his signature, so to speak, to it."
  • Ownership -- "Each person or group wants to be accountable for everything about a project, be it success or failure."
  • Motivation -- "The rate of learning with respect to time directly affects motivation."
  • Milestones -- "Milestones and time frames are provided, so participants can appreciate their progress."
  • Human Interaction -- "The professional workplace requires tight and effective coordination and marketing."

However, Calasanz ends his reflection on a sober note. "When will the Philippines ever cultivate the culture of creating? Developed countries have made us users, buyers or ahentes (agents), mostly relegating our technical graduates into explaining how a system is installed, operated and maintained. Professionals that we all are, we are deeply concerned that if the environment in which the Philippines presents to our graduates continues the way it is, technology in our country will continue to be shackled, thus encouraging other countries to keep on stealing our professionals and new graduates."

(Next week: Teaching and Learning in Chemistry)

Queena N. Lee-Chua, Ph.D. teaches mathematics and psychology at the Ateneo de Manila University. She can be reached at: mailto:blessbook@yahoo.com.

 

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