The Scholar Project

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Abstract

The Scholar Project began in 1999 at Heriot-Watt University to produce learning materials capable of delivery both in traditional paper format and on-line. The project sought to provide a link between sixth year school and first year university by having materials which could be adapted to suit various courses. Although the founding members were neighbouring Education Authorities, the project aims to deliver these materials worldwide in as short a time scale as possible. Introduction The Scholar project at Heriot-Watt University is delivering high quality learning materials in Mathematics, Computing, Chemistry, Physics and Biology aimed at sixth year secondary school /first year university level. In the pilot year, 2000-2001, the materials provided a full Scottish Advanced Higher course available for delivery both in paper and web format. Four Education Authorities and six Further Education colleges agreed to be founder members of the project and received full access to both versions of the materials. The pilot was extremely successful and the project subsequently extended the offer of membership to the remaining Authorities. By the start of year two (August 2001), over 70% of the Education Authorities decided to join and use the Scholar materials. Further courses at Scottish Higher level and Higher National Certificate/Diploma are due for delivery into schools and colleges by September 2001. Thereafter the project will embark upon the English `A’ level courses and the optional courses within the Scottish system. The aim is to extend the availability of the material world wide, not only targeting academic institutions but also those in business and industry who may wish to train staff in these subjects towards a qualification. The scholar teams are structured as follows: * A subject leader: A highly experienced subject specialist employed by Heriot-Watt. * Courseware developers: The authors who are either employed by Heriot-Watt for their expertise in writing and delivering learning materials or are seconded school teachers from the neighbouring communities. * Technical assistants: Recent graduates, mainly from Heriot-Watt, who have skills in the particular subject, computing, graphics or technical issues. They assist the authors in developing the material. * In addition, the services of many other professionals in Heriot-Watt are used to compile the final print and web versions. Scholar Mathematics The Scholar Mathematics site at July 2001 comprises the fifteen topics that form the Advanced Higher. Over the remainder of 2001 the twelve topics forming the Higher will appear. Every topic employs the same format and consists of the theory, diagrams, fully worked examples, animations, interactivities and exercises. There are also additional sections when appropriate. Each of these aspects is now examined in more detail. Theory Throughout all of the Scholar Mathematics material at both Advanced Higher and Higher levels, a conscious decision was taken to write the materials in such a way that they could be used not only, as originally intended, in the class room/lecture theatre with teacher/lecturer support, but also by the independent learner. Thus the theory provided in the text version is almost totally reproduced on the web and is sectioned for easier access. By doing this, the students can have access to the material in school and at home. They can print out particular sections rather than carry heavy books and can also access the text if they arrive at school/home having forgotten the textbook. The flexibility that the web site offers will be a major advantage in seeking additional partners for the project in years to come. Diagrams The authors using the application, Freehand, draw most of the diagrams. By doing this, the diagrams can be kept deliberately simple in order to allow the students to concentrate on the learning points of that section.