Innovative Online Physics Course With Real World Applications

Dr. Michael F. Schatz, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has recently developed an innovative MOOC that uses technology to help students understand physics concepts as they apply to their everyday surroundings.

The course, called Introductory Physics I with Laboratory, is a combination of video lectures, quizzes, and homework assignments.

For the Laboratory section of the course, students are required to prepare video lab reports: Using their smartphone or a webcam, each student records a moving object in their environment and analyzes the object’s motion using open-source software such as Tracker.

After analyzing the path of motion and relevant data, students prepare a five-minute video lab report in which they explain the data through the lens of physics theories and build models using Virtual Python. The lab reports are shared among all students and receive peer reviews.

For a sample video lab report, watch the following video created by Rebecca Fallin, in which Newton’s Second Law of Motion is used to analyze the motion of a ball.

Introductory Physics I with Laboratory was first offered on May 20th and ran for 11 weeks. According to Georgia Tech, a total of 17,000 students enrolled in the course from around the world.

Another 16-week long course is due to begin on August 19th. In this second round of the course, Dr. Schatz plans to focus more on tests and quizzes, placing less of an emphasis on the lab reports.

See below for Dr. Schatz’s introductory video explaining more about the course: