Monday, December 10, 2012

Swift's Motic Cameras Magnify Learning

Close this windowThe Vandalia Drummer News ran a great story this morning on how microscope cameras are impacting the learning atmosphere of Butler High School - one biology experiment at a time.

The cameras fit over the eyepiece of the school's existing microscopes and are linked via USB to a computer monitor at each lab station. While the students still mount their slides like normal, they manipulate them using the computer.  Since students don't have to pass the microscope back and forth, collaboration is encouraged and ample time is saved - two things every teacher values.

Butler High School biology teacher Kelly Stevens is quoted in the story as saying, "One of the downfalls of working with just one microscope is that only one student can see what's on the slide at a time. Now everyone sees the same thing in real time, and I can get around the classroom faster."

Coupled with Motic software, which allows students to capture video of their slides, make time-lapse photos and do side-by-side comparisons of their specimens, these cameras are generating a buzz at Butler. With the software, teachers can even "push" electronic documents from their computer to each lab station. Students then complete the assignment and "push" it back to their teacher, making for completely paperless labs. 

Stevens insists in the article that while the new technology is great, it doesn't do the learning for the students.

He told Vandalia Drummer News that, "students still have to learn how to use the microscopes; the technology doesn't do the work for them. We are doing the same things we have done in the past, this just takes it to a new level."

Can there really be a down side to this story? Unfortunately, yes. Just one classroom at Butler is hooked up with the new technology. This means that Stevens and the high school's other biology teachers must all share the space so all students benefit from the technology.

As Stevens put it, "The cameras have made us so much more efficient in the classroom. It would be nice if we could equip all of our biology classrooms with this technology."

Read the Vandalia Drummer News story.