One of the primary objectives of the project was to have the students actively participating in the design of the applets. Three oral de-briefing sessions were held in order to solicit the ideas and opinions of the students. In addition, each student completed a journal entry following a 40 minute session using the applets. The journal questions were aimed at gathering feedback on three issues:
The oral de-briefing sessions were especially fruitful. A similar phenomenon has been observed in other collaborative research studies with children . The students were very keen on voicing their opinions and discussing with their classmates. They were much more critical and verbose than in their journal entries. They were also much more creative; it was during these sessions that the students suggested imaginative alternatives to the existing applets and even completely new approaches. One such approach was to use collaboration tools to create a game that could be played on different computers.
The students also completed a worksheet following each session. The questions were divided into two categories: (1) questions directly related to concepts presented through the use of the applets; these would reinforce their understanding and provide a means of assessment, and (2) questions which extended and supplemented these concepts; these were used primarily to introduce concepts that were more difficult to cover with the applets. It was decided to have the students work on these questions off-line both to free up computer time for the other groups and to observe the way in which they would translate their on-line learning to a more traditional setting.