Sofia University (BULGARIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 7369-7378
ISBN: 978-84-606-8243-1
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The article is dedicated to weSPOT scientific inquiry as an approach for science learning and teaching, piloted in number of schools. The stress will be put on how scientific inquiry, supported by technological tools (web-based environment, tablets, smartphones, etc.) and appropriate applications, lowers the threshold for linking everyday life with science teaching in schools and how with weSPOT tools science education could be more attractive and engaging.

The article presents the pedagogical Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) model, consisting of six main phases:
• Problem/Topic phase is dedicated to the definition of the scientific assertion which should be proved or rejected at the end of scientific study.
• Operationalization phase is for planning the research methods and designing the upcoming tasks.
• Data Collection phase is intended for collection of scientific facts and evidences.
• Data Analysis phase is dedicated to critically observing the collected data.
• Discussion/Interpretation phase is for arguing the research results and drawing conclusions.
• Communication phase is for sharing the findings with all interested parties.

It discusses also the technological infrastructure which main goal is to ensure quality and effectiveness of the IBL model application and includes:
• A core weSPOT component, supporting the implementation of inquiry, is a web-based integrated environment (WIE): It works as an inquiry space, providing integration of and interaction between more specific desktop and mobile tools supporting learning process in different phases:
o MindMeister’s component for creating mind maps diagrams with key concepts.
o Domain Structure component for describing the researched objects and their properties.
o Learning Analytics Reflection and Awareness - environment for visual presentation and track of students’ activities.
o Mobile data collection component.
o Badges – system for recognition of students’ achievements.
o Communication tools (messages, chat)
• Personal Inquiry Manager (PIM) – fully integrated with WIE mobile application providing also functionalities for collecting data on field as well as tracking geo-coordinates of the field activities.
• Mobile Inquiry Coordination Interface (MICI) – web-based environment which provides condition for increasing students’ motivation and engagement with the learning process.

In the article it is presented the pilot experiment, named Feeding with Balance – Health in Advance, combining the IBL model and the especially developed technological infrastructure. The pedagogical design and scenario, developed by teachers, university researchers and the representatives are described. The observation during the first stages of implementation is provided and commented. Some formal tools (questionnaires) for evaluation of the weSPOT framework are used and the current results and expectations are shown, analysed, interpreted and summarised.

The common conclusion for usefulness of the synergy of IBL model and weSPOT technological framework are formulated as well as some recommendations for improvement the tools.
Inquiry-based science education, technology enhanced learning.