The Frugal Spartan: Strategies for Teaching Science Practices Using Free Technologies at MSU

Stephen Thomas
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
1425 Biomedical and Physical Sciences
Lunch Provided


More-so than when teaching straight scientific knowledge, the teaching of science practices often involves the use of technology. This added element can lead to more authentic learning experiences for students, but potentially added costs for all parties involved as well as requiring increased time for curriculum development and implementation. In this workshop, we will be looking at freely available software at MSU that can help you teach science practices without breaking you or your students’ wallets. This overview will be followed by a more in-depth examination of one of those technologies (Microsoft 365) for teaching a variety of scientific practices (e.g. using MS Forms to collect data using student smartphones, OneNote for lab notebooks, Excel for creating models, etc.). Additionally, we will be discussing logistics and pedagogical practices that can help ease the incorporation of technology in the classroom. By the end of the workshop you will have a better sense of technologies available to you at MSU and how to best implement them in your classroom to teach science practices.

Stephen Thomas is the Associate Director for the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science here at Michigan State University. He also serves as the Digital Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Natural Science. As part of this work, Stephen co-facilitates two faculty learning communities, one focused on accessibility and the other on improving digital curriculum. Stephen holds a PhD in Organismal and Evolutionary Biology and MAs in Evolutionary Biology and Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a BA in Biology from Denison University. Stephen’s research and interests include the overlap of art and science, the visual communication of science, and the use of technology and teaching. He has worked on projects such as the use of comics to reduce subject anxiety in non-major science courses, the development of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to teach general science, and augmented reality and kiosk games to engage visitors in science museums..