We asked some of our Go-Lab ambassadors and teachers to share their experiences working with Go-Lab.
Here is what Lidia Ristea, Go-Lab ambassador in Romania and ICT teacher at Secondary School I.A. Bassarabescu Prahova County, Romania has to say.
Joining the Go-Lab community helped me receive information about the latest events, applications, and laboratories which were posted on the platform, but also gave me the opportunity to participate in webinars, the online training course, and various competitions. As a result, I accumulated enough experience in resource use and the creation of diversified materials in the field of science and technology. The variety of Go-Lab applications and laboratories has led me to recommend it to students and colleagues in and out of school so that they can use this kind of applications to create educational products for various disciplines and to participate in competitions organized by Go-Lab.
More concretely, and as a computer science teacher, the use of this platform has had a positive impact on my teaching, learning and evaluation process because a lesson plan included both theoretical support and practical activities, experiments and work tasks. These can be traced to each student's work pace at school as well as at home and can return to unfinished tasks or re-read certain materials as often as needed. This would be impossible to accomplish within a normal classroom course to teach theory, to experiment and practice, it would involve more time, so this platform creates a great deal of time and knowledge assimilation and is more efficient.
Go-Lab is a novelty element for many teachers because it provides open access and is a bridge between many teachers in Europe and outside the EU. It is also an important resource for ideas of learning activities that contribute to the development of a strong online learning community. Additionally, it not only provides diversity, interactivity but also the complexity of applications and laboratories. The platform provides the opportunity to insert in just one lesson plan more resources, more applications, more laboratories and more web addresses that can be accessed whenever needed. Furthermore, it is a complex platform that allows the administration of a subdomain, the creation and management of applications on areas of interest. It is accessible to anyone, is free, and any teacher can contribute to the development or improvement of ILSs, creating a student-centered virtual learning space that offers a constructivist, interactive and integrated learning environment. It also involves collaborative learning, project-based, individual and group tasks because all the created ILSs are not just activities or lessons themselves. They are learning resources or products that can be validated and further improved by other teachers creating new material and integrating them into the curriculum, or additional collaborative online projects.
As a result, the Go-Lab project has:
- perfected the didactic strategies teachers will apply in order to increase the students' interest in the educational process;
- enriched teachers’ knowledge by accessing new information provided by attending training sessions,
- diversified the implemented teaching methods - active learning - assessment resulting in the creation of a positive climate in class and good cohesion of the group of students;
- facilitated the acquisition of new ICT skills for teachers by using applications and laboratories posted on the platform;
- made known the results obtained as a teacher of the school they represented by disseminating the materials;
- supported teachers to put in practice the notions learned by implementing in class the created material and lessons (ILSs);
- afforded teachers to develop new approaches and perspective working with students with special needs and in integrating different students’ interests and performance levels into the lessons;
- allowed teachers the use of Web 2.0 technologies, online platforms, and other materials in the classroom that are based on examples of good practice;
- provided teachers with an online community and communication platform to share ideas and best practices with other online participants.
The resources posted on the Go-Lab platform can be adapted to various lesson plans, can be integrated into the curriculum at the school's decision for each learning cycle and can be launched in the classroom for teaching, learning and evaluation (at the end of the learning unit). The students can also receive the lesson plan link created to go through the theoretical support on their own learning rhythm and they can load the materials created from home. This way of working helps to promote creativity, students' imagination, develops teamwork and is much easier to use. Students are part of a learning community in which they are in a position to understand what they have to do, to explain to others and to work together, to inform, document and extract useful information for their professional development by using the resources posted on the platform, as well as loading the finished products. Learning becomes effective when the teacher builds a learning material for students to interact with this material and experiment, to understand the stages they are going to follow. Learning using online labs is an approach that involves an active learning style integrating online learning resources based on students' learning styles and performance. Students become involved in the process of their own education and must learn how to be responsible for the progress they are making. Go-Lab enables students to acquire new skills and develop new learning experiences.
Go-Lab enables students to:
- gain information about other Web 2.0 resources/technologies,
- improve their level of professional training leading to increased performance;
- acquire new skills in using digital tools, Web 2.0 technologies, entrepreneurship, mother tongue communication, language communication, social competencies, etc.;
- increase students' motivation towards school by learning new things;
- be more confident in their own choices, where some students can make decisions in choosing tasks and can support their own point of view;
- learn using virtual labs, which encourages collaboration and communication between teachers and students, where they can actively participate in the learning process by asking questions that will help them formulate conclusions, understand mistakes, and highlight any misconceptions.
School curriculum cannot be changed (legal form) but can be adapted to students' needs, based on interactivity; The lack of physical labs in the school has been supplemented by virtual and online laboratories posted on Go-Lab. The proposed activities are based on learning through discovery, inventiveness, virtual experiments, teamwork, individual work, communication, collaboration, cooperation with colleagues and teaching staff. The Go-Lab project impacted the way my colleagues and I teach and develop our lesson plans and curriculum activities, as well as how the students interact with the learning content.
The lesson plans (ILSs) offered by the platform and those of the classroom teachers can:
- encourage students to solve the tasks provided by applications (including returning to the proposed and unresolved tasks to complete later).;
- monitor the learning process of students through the Go-Lab applications;
- identify the students who may need support and feedback during lessons;
- create the plans for scientific lessons - a link with other disciplines and provide students' access to new and more flexible IT technologies;
With regard to students’ performance, the novelty of the platform has raised the interest of students in sciences, virtual applications, and laboratories. Additionally, the platform creates optional tasks for students who have fast-paced learning -learning by discovery.
Integration of the Go-Lab platform in lessons can lead to usable products by connecting with other disciplines, making it easier for students to access new IT technologies through which they can develop their STEM education at a much higher level than what was considered acceptable in the past. The way to solve the gap between skills and abilities is to help students shape their interests, collaboration, critical thinking to develop them the skills they need for succeeding in the global economy.