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Reflections on undertaking a problem-based learning degree and the student’s perception of the role of university. David McDonagh. “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey.

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slide1

Reflections on undertaking a problem-based learning degree and the student’s perception of the role of university

David McDonagh

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey

problem based learning
Problem Based Learning
  • What would happen if the orbits of Mars and Earth were instantaneously swapped?
  • What are the limits to human speed?
  • Are these patents practical? Do they violate the laws of thermodynamics?
  • How can software be designed to program rovers on Mars?
  • Could life exist on Enceladus?
  • How do magnetic particles behave in biological systems? How can they be used in medicine?
problem based learning1
Problem Based Learning

What would happen if the orbits of Mars and Earth were instantaneously swapped?

What is the effect of the Sun on the Earth and Mars now?

Stars

The Earth’s magnetic field

Planetary atmospheres

Aurora

Remote sensing

The solar wind

The Dungey Cycle

The Van Allen Belts

The nature of light

Heat flow

Magnetism

Newton’s Law of Cooling

Wien’s Law

Albedo

Steffan-Boltzmann Law

Rayleigh scattering

glimpsing the cathedral
Glimpsing the Cathedral
  • An overarching problem provides context and structure
  • Forces you to go beyond passively learning
  • Material stops being viewed through the lens of what to know for the exam
  • A focus on group work
extension tasks
Extension Tasks
  • Density Functional Theory as an interdisciplinary tool
  • The viability of terraforming Mars
  • An overview of black holes
  • The physiological effects of space travel
  • The viability of mining the solar system
  • A primer to quantum computation
learning the research process
Learning the Research Process
  • Instruction is kept brief
  • Extent of the task is decided by the student
  • Students can pursue their interests
learning the research process1
Learning the Research Process

A primer to quantum computation

How do quantum computers work?

How do classical computers work?

Entanglement

Superposition

Measurement principle

Boolean logic

Binary notation

Hilbert Space

Polarisation

Quantum states evolving with time

Logic gates

Unitary transformations

Qubit gates

Quantum algorithms

Fourier sampling

What is the importance of quantum computers?

Claude Shannon and Information Theory

Church-Turing Thesis

Cryptography

Channel capacity and noise

Solovay-Strassenprimality test

Defining information

learning the research process2
Learning the Research Process

Quantum Computation and Quantum information, Nielsen and Chuang

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware, Petzold

Khan Academy lecture series on vectors and vector spaces

Elementary Linear Algebra, Grossman

Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences

9 week EDX course on Quantum Computing and Quantum algorithms

the role of moocs1
The Role of MOOCs

Beyond a revision aid:

  • Weekly lectures
  • Course Notes
  • Marked problem sets
  • Assignments
  • Discussion forum
  • Q&A sessions with the lecturers
  • Marked exams
what is the role of university
What is the Role of University?
  • Information transfer is no longer limited to the university.
  • How do you assimilate this information? How can you apply it?
  • What do students expect from university?
reflections on problem based learning
Reflections on Problem-Based Learning
  • Teaching how to build, not collect bricks
  • The importance of personalised education
  • The course content is the same, but solving the over arching problems produces different answers, and different students.
  • Students need to be encouraged to interact
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Thank you for listening

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey