Using the Flipped Classroom Method in Computer Science Education, pt. 2

We have published our full case study and recommendations for applying flipped classroom in teaching programming at university level. Flipped classroom is a teaching method where students first study theory by themselves as a pre-assigned homework and then learn in the classroom by working on exercises. This is the opposite of the traditional “listen at class and then work alone at home” approach, hence the term “flipped”. This approach aims to maximize the usefulness of the time the teacher and the students spend together.

To summarize, in the paper we published the following recommendations:

  • Create or curate videos in addition to text-based material
  • Video curating suggested, if the instructor intends to hold small lectures
  • Use weekly quizzes to evaluate the level of understanding and satisfaction
  • Strictly integrate the theory and material to the course
  • Encourage students to engage peers in-class and to review each other’s work
  • Require students to start the weekly tasks before the exercises as preparatory work


Read More

Read the conference paper in ACM Digital Library (preprint) or see the presentation slides. There’s also a poster from our previous conference presentation.

Abstract

The flipped classroom teaching method, which emphasizes independent learning of theory and practical, in-depth exercises in the classroom, is gaining foothold in teaching. The method is increasingly being applied at university level. It has been implemented with varying approaches and guidelines, and a single unified process has not been described. In this article we compare existing literature to two case studies where flipped classroom was introduced to teaching. We discuss the lessons learned in these cases and present recommendations based on our experiences. Flipping the classroom has been found to be more efficient than traditional lecture-exercises method and the findings in this study support this. Therefore we recommend teachers to explore the possibility of utilizing the flipped classroom method in their courses.

Authors

Combining Patent and Bibliometric Analysis

Figure: Most Common Keywords in Patents Related to Online Gaming Figure: Most Common Keywords in Patents Related to Online Gaming

In a recent research project initiated by my colleague the NAILS project was extended to analyse and compare the other major database indexing science and technology results, patents. These results were recently published in a conference and now the preprint is available for your perusal. This is exciting (for a certain definition of exciting), because previously there has not been a freely available bibliometric analysis tool to map and visualize patent data. For now you also need a subscription to Web of Science to download patent metadata for analysis.

Read More

Preprint is available in ResearchGate.

Abstract

In this paper, we present an analysis method that allows the combination of multiple data sources by extending the NAILS bibliometric cloud service, with the focus on the development of a novel cloud-based online infrastructure that enables the user to compare scientific literature and patent data related to a particular technology domain. This cloud-based tool leverages meta-data analysis and text-mining techniques to visualize the semi-structured patent and journal articles data stored on Web of Science database. The designed cloud-based tool can automate the process of patent landscape visualization, scientific literature mapping and provides an independent interface for comparing patent and paper trends on a specific subject. The implementation demonstrates how a flexible plugin system can benefit tools by introducing new data sources. We also present a roadway to fully realize a service oriented analysis service for utilizing open data and discuss the steps required to realize this vision.

Co-authors

Teaching Basics of Programming to Youth with Games

Unity Development Environment Figure: Unity Development Environment

There are many approaches to teaching the basics of programming from traditional lecture-type teaching in universities to interactive courses (CodeCademy) to MOOCs (mooc.fi). I recently taught a basics of programming course to teens, arranged by the local center of STEM education, LUMA. The course lasted for five days with the goal of introducing complete novices to the basics of programming (variables, control structures, loops) and the basics of game development.

One of the basic premises for the course were that students are more highly motivated to learn programming when the skills have immediate and interesting opportunities to apply. That is why the development environment for the course was Unity, which is a physics-engine centered game development environment. The basic interface of Unity resembles an user-friendly 3D modeling program, where one can for example deploy basic geometric shapes or imported 3D models. These objects and the environment can then be further controlled with C# or JavaScript programming languages. For example, it is easy for a beginner to create a pinball game by defining the level, adding a sphere and connecting the flippers to the keyboard by programming.

The curriculum of the course included basics of programming in JavaScript and C#, basic principles of game development and games as a creative industry. The course had positive outcomes, with all students with full attendance passing programming assignments and many participants improved on the basic game template with advanced features like timed platforms and ramps. At the same time they gained very practical feel of what basic programming language features can accomplish by immediately being able to control objects in an environment beyond what a basic command line could offer.

Using the Flipped Classroom Method in Computer Science Education, pt. 1

Figure: The Weekly Structure of One Flipped Programming Course Figure: The Weekly Structure of One Flipped Programming Course

Recently we have explored the application of flipped classroom to teaching computer science and especially in the context of programming courses. Flipped classroom is a teaching method where students first study theory by themselves as a pre-assigned homework and then learn in the classroom by working on exercises. This is the opposite of the traditional “listen at class and then work alone at home” approach, hence the term “flipped”. This approach aims to maximize the usefulness of the time the teacher and the students spend together.

We had a series of case studies with positive results. We first published one short poster paper and then a subsequent full paper. There is also the poster where we have a proposed process model for applying the method and a series of recommendations.

Read More

Read the short paper in ACM Digital Library (preprint) or view the poster. Alternatively go on to read the follow up blog article.

Abstract

Flipped classroom teaching method, where theory is studied at home and exercises are done in the classroom, is gaining foothold in teaching. The method has been used with different approaches and guidelines, yet a single unified process has not been described. In this work we compare existing literature to our experiences in teaching. As our main result we outline a simple process description and guidelines for building a course structure with flipped classroom. Flipping the classroom has been found to be more efficient than traditional lecture-exercises model and the our findings support this. Therefore we recommend teachers to explore the possibility of utilizing the method.

Authors

Linking Physical Activities and Video Games

Games Wordcloud Figure: Games that were associated with each other in the survey results

The previous two articles on Gamifying CSCL and Building Fair CS:GO Teams are an excellent segue to today’s topic. A year back we made an survey on how motivated video game players would be to exercise for in-game rewards. Additionally we performed a systematic mapping study on current scientific literature handling the topic. We found that it has not been a much researched subject and the attitudes of players were open to connecting video games and exercise by gamification.

TL;DR

According to our survey casual videogame players were willing to do physical exercise for in-game rewards. (with the survey mostly concerning Counterstrike players)

Survey on Player Opinions of Using Physical Exercise as Tool to Earn In-Game Rewards

To gain an understanding on how players would feel about connecting physical activities with video games, we carried out a questionnaire to possible end users. The questionnaire was targeted to Counter Strike players and the responses showed that there is an audience for using in-game rewards to motivate users to exercise, especially among the segment that does not currently exercise a lot. The questionnaire received 47 answers from 44 males and 3 females. Majority (60%) of respondents were between 19-30 years old, 31% were between 10-18 and 9% were 31-50 years old. Most respondents (42%) told that they play more than 3 hours/day, 30% play 2-3 hours/day and 27% said that they play less than 2 hours per day.

A weak inverse correlation was found between people interested doing a physical task to unlock a weapon and the amount of exercise the respondent was doing (R=-0.31; p=0.04). This means that the respondents who exercise a lot are not willing to do extra task for in-game rewards, but conversely respondents who exercise little could be motivated to exercise more with ingame rewards. People who currently exercise 1 to 7 hours per week would be most motivated by in-game rewards and people who exercise 8 to 14 hours per week would be least motivated by rewards.

More details in the actual paper! Link below.

Read More

Available in the ACM Digital Library and preprint in ResearchGate.

Abstract

This study presents a concept for linking individual physical activities and video games together to build an ecosystem to motivate players to exercise. We used a systematic mapping study to establish current state of art and a user questionnaire to understand how players feel about digital rewards from physical exercises. In addition we implemented a prototype to demonstrate the applicability. The results suggest that combining games and physical activity trackers together is technologically feasible, and there is an audience who would be willing to exercise in order to receive rewards in games.