Through FACT, we hope to make a considerable contribution to the field of computer-assisted learning and teaching. The team is taking a phased development process, starting with relatively straightforward technology to provide teachers and students with useful tools to address practical problems, while also gathering the corpus of manually assessed student responses needed for the next steps toward sophisticated, automatic analysis and feedback.
The three main outcomes of the project include:
Materials, professional development and annotation knowledge base. Although FACT can be used with a variety of learning activities, we are developing it around MAP’s Classroom Challenges. Each Classroom Challenge is a lesson that uses complex, rich, multistep tasks for formative assessment. The tasks are tackled by individuals, small groups and the whole class. Our project is developing several modified middle-school Classroom Challenges, including both materials and professional development. The FACT versions have the same essential content as the paper versions, enhanced where possible by the affordances that the technology offers. Comparing them allows us to understand how the introduction of FACT changes the classroom activities and the students’ learning.
Media System. This is a web-based software system that will replace the paper worksheets, posters, cards and other media that are currently used in the Classroom Challenges. Our goal is to make the web application (app) used by the students as easy to use and unconstraining as paper, able to run on affordable devices, and able to produce machine-interpretable representations of the students’ work. The Media System will also help teachers manage the workflow of a lesson, where a workflow is a sequence of activities with a description of which outputs of one activity become inputs to later activities. The Media System will also provide teachers with access to a community-based quality assurance process for annotations and other materials.
Analysis System. The Classroom Challenges pose problems that are complex and rich, which makes it difficult for teachers to tell from the students’ written work what the students are thinking about the problem. The FACT Analysis System is intended to reduce the teachers’ analytic workload, and thus may encourage ordinary teachers to use the Classroom Challenges even though they lack deep familiarity with them. The Analysis System is server-based software that will analyze student work looking for opportunities to improve their understanding and increase the quality of annotations given to students.