Virtual laboratories are increasing for all areas of scientific domains. However, the concept of such laboratories can be extended to include educational activities. But the point is, how to do it? We have been involved in the development of a virtual laboratory on mathematics education for the past 15 months. Our institution is involved in the training of primary school teachers. On their final year, our students go to primary schools and teach there in some supervised classes. Our idea is to create an instrument that can be used with primary school children by our students, during the earlier-mentioned practice in schools. Therefore it has to be an instrument with features that include being appealing to children, easy to use, and helpful to novice primary school teachers.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Constructivism: Theory defending that students learn by constructing their own knowledge. It emphasizes that the context in which an idea is presented, as well as student attitude and behavior, affects learning. Students learn by incorporating new information into what they already know.
Behaviourism: The most important aspect of behaviouristic theory is that the learner is viewed as adapting to the environment and learning is seen largely as a passive process. Knowledge is viewed as given and absolute (objective knowledge). Rote memorization and drill-and-practice instruction are supported by behaviourist theory.
Games Playing: A kind of activity that combines reasoning, strategy, and reflection with competing challenge in a rich way. Playing games, especially strategy games, contributes to the development of mathematical abilities as well as to personal and social development.
Connectionism: Psychology theory developed by Edward L. Thorndyke in the beginning of the 20th century. It was a forerunner of behaviourism. Thorndyke argued that bonds between stimulus and responses are strengthened through exercise in which success is rewarded. These principles have been applied in the area of mathematics education by Thorndyke himself.
Problem Solving: Problem solving occurs when an individual is confronted with a situation for which he/she does not know how to proceed from a given state to a desired goal. The situation should constitute a challenge to the solver who must organize his/her knowledge in order to find a “path” to the solution of the problem.
Virtual Laboratory: Re-creation of real laboratories that include some kind of experiment and/or interaction within a virtual environment.
Manipulative: Materials that can be handled or manipulated and permit the representation of concepts facilitating the construction/organization of those concepts.