Shockwave Based versus App Based Minds on Physics
As we were designing Minds On Physics the App, we knew that the manner in which it functioned had to be identical to the browser-based Minds On Physics Internet Modules
(now referred to as Legacy MOPs). It was essential that it offered the same experience of answering questions, receiving feedback, having opportunities for correction, and having access to question-specific help. It was also essential that MOP the App had all the same features as the browser-based program. That is, MOP the app had to offer the same For Practice and For Credit modes of usage, it had to allow for the use of Start Codes, and it had to generate encrypted Success Codes to validate the completion of student work. Finally, it was essential that MOP the App work seamlessly with the Minds On Physics Teacher Module
. The fact is that the Shockwave-based MOPs still works in a Safari, Firefox, and Explorer browser on both Windows and Macintosh computers (at least as of this writing in late July, 2016). And as such, any mobile version of the program would have to work identically to the browser version of the program. While we're not pretending to think that the Shockwave-based, browser version is part of the distant future of the Minds On Physics program, we do recognize that is the way that many schools and students currently use Minds On Physics. As such many students, teachers and classrooms will likely be doing Minds On Physics in both browser-format and app-format. Throughout all of our development and testing, we found the two formats were never in conflict with one another. Success codes, start codes, and basic functionality is identical in both versions. With that being said, there are some subtle changes and some new features that we added to Minds On Physics the App.
Subtle Changes to Minds On Physics the App
There are some very subtle, non-consequential changes made to the app verson of the program. It is especially important that teachers be aware of those changes if they are using MOPs with their classes and have students who are using the program in both the Shockwave format and the App format.
- Assignments in Minds On Physics the App are no longer referred to as assignments. Since we believe that many learners will purchase the app simply to improve their physics understanding and skills, their use of the app would not necessarily be motivated by the fact that a teacher assigned it. So we have dropped the references to assignments and now refer to these as missions. The assignment labels (KC1, KG5, VP10, etc.) used in the Shockwave-based program are still used in the App-based program. So Assignment VP3 is now referred to as Mission VP3. Yes, it's a subtle change.
- The two basic modes of doing MOPs are no longer called For Credit and For Practice. We recognize that many learners who purchase the app will be using it to learn and improve their physics understanding and not be using it to earn credit for a course. Thus we re-named For Credit mode as Sudden Death mode and we renamed For Practice mode as Marathon mode. Once more, this is a subtle change but one that a teacher will want to be aware of.
(As you can tell from our choice of new names for the two usage modes, we did not consult anyone from the Marketing department. In fact, there isn't a Marketing department at The Physics Classroom.)
- In the Shockwave-based program, completing an assignment in For Credit mode earns a student a Gold Success Code. Nearly completing an assignment in For Credit mode earns a student a Silver Success Code. Doing Minds On Physics in For Practice mode doesn't earn the student a Success Code. It works similarly in the App version with a slight twist and addition. In the App version of the program, a Gold Medal and a Gold Success Code are rewarded for successful completion of a mission in Sudden Death mode. A Silver Medal and a Silver Success Code are rewarded for near-completion of a mission in Sudden Death mode. Successful completion of a mission in Marathon mode results in a Bronze Medal and a Bronze Success Code. Teachers who are using MOPs as part of a course requirement will have to decide whether they will reward any credit for earning a Bronze Success Code.
New Features Exclusive to Minds On Physics the App
While the above-mentioned changes are admittedly subtle and not worth-boasting about, the following added features are something to get excited about. They are exclusive to the App-based version of the Minds On Physics program.
- It's All About Tapping
Minds On Physics asks a lot of questions. This means that a Minds On Physics user is going to answer a lot of questions. And if doing the Shockwave-based MOPs, that means entering your cursor into the answer field and typing in the answer from the keyboard. That's expected if working from a desktop or laptop ... but that's no way for a mobile device to work. And so forget about the cursor and the mouse and start tapping on answers. Once you experience how easy it is to tap your way to success in MOP the App, you won't want to return to the browser-based version.
- No Log In Required
The Shockwave-based version of Minds On Physics requires students to log in each time using a Teacher Code and a Student ID. Tendencies to enter these incorrectly often lead to difficulties with obtaining credit for an assignment. That's not going to happen with Minds On Physics the App. Students will have to create an account the first time they start up the app. After that, there is no logging in. Account information is stored on the device and retrieved each time the student starts a session.
- Automatic Saving of Success Codes
Students who do Minds On Physics for course credit know that they need to collect Success Codes. There is no secure location to automatically save such Success Codes in the Shockave-based program. But in Minds On Physics the App, the Success Codes are saved and organized directly on the device. There's no need for students to write them down. They are saved, time-stamped and organized by topic. We think it's pretty slick!
- Emailing Success Codes
Teachers who require students to gather Success Codes for credit will often ask them to hand them in. Minds On Physics the App makes handing in Success Codes very easy. It is as simple as clicking an Email Teacher button. The Success Codes are gathered together and the email is composed. All a student needs to do is click the Send button in the device's mail program. Students can even email the Success Codes to themselves if they want a backup copy. Students will love this! (And we strongly recommend this before upgrading to a new version of MOPs ... especially if upgrading App #1 from version 1.0 or 1.1 to version 1.2 or higher.) Teachers should be aware that even though the app sends an email with Success Codes, the Success Codes aren't necessarily valid. Anyone can create the same email with the same information in it and a bunch of made-up codes. This is simply a convenient way for students to get success codes to teachers (or themselves).
- Collect Success Codes Earned on Other Devices
We can easily imagine students doing Minds On Physics on a variety of devices. Perhaps they still use the Shockwave-based program at school and their iPad at home. Or perhaps they are in a 1:1 Chromebook school and do MOPs on their Chromebook at school but use their iPhone at home. Minds On Physics makes it easy to gather all the hard-earned Success Codes onto one device. You can earn Success Codes using your iPhone or using the Shockwave-based program and enter them onto your Chromebook. Minds On Physics checks the validity of the Success Codes and stores them on the device (if they are valid Success Codes). Teachers can count on the fact that if the Success Codes are on the device and displayed on the Success Codes page, then they are valid codes. If a student learns how to tamper with the program using a jail-broken iOS device or a rooted Android device, an invalid Success Code added to the program will be highlighted with a red background.
- The Personal Review Bank
One of the coolest enhancements to Minds On Physics the App is the ability to identify questions as troublesome and to gather them together into a Personal Review Bank. Every question screen has a small red flag displayed on it. Tapping on the flag on any given question screen will mark that question as being part of the user's Personal Review Bank. As a quiz or test approaches, the user can open their Personal Review Bank and practive answering those troublesome questions. If you're a conscientious student, you'll love that feature!
- Built-in Help
Those familiar with the Shockwave-based MOPs probably know that every question is accompanied by a web page with question-specific help. In the App version of MOPs, the Help is built into the App. One never has to leave the App to obtain the help they need to answer the question. Tap on the Help button, read through a couple of screens, tap to return to the question, and nail it! Help is always a tap away! So students: don't get frustrated ... get Help! Then get successful.
- Guest Usage
When you purchase Minds On Physics for a mobile device, student log-on credentials are saved on that device. Your success codes and other information are stored there too. All this information belongs to you as the user of the device. It's personal information and records of progress; it's your information and no one else's. But perhaps you have a friend who would like to use your device to complete a mission or two. No problem! They can simply use the device as a Guest User. They enter their own Teacher Code and their own Student ID Number and knock off a mission or two. None of their hard-earned Success Codes or progress records are ever stored on your device, but your friend can still earn Success Codes and write them down for inclusion on their own device.
- Start Codes that Work Well
Some teachers who use Minds On Physics with their classes will publish Start Codes for various assignments (or should we say Missions). Start Codes are a means of shortening an assignment by removing one or two questions from it. Students who enter valid Start Codes when they start up an assignment end up with a shorter assignment. One of the aggravations of the Shockwave-based MOPs is that Start Codes did not work in all browsers on Windows platforms. While they worked seamlessly on all Mac browsers, Internet Explorer was the only reliable browser for the use of Start Codes on Windows computers,
- Select all that apply ... in any order!
The Shockwave-based MOP program frequently asks a Select-all-that-apply-styled question. When it does, there is the requirement of entering the answers in alphabetical order. Many a student has selected all that applied but missed the question because the answers weren't ordered alphabetically. This is no longer necessary with Minds On Physics the App. Select the answers in any order you wish. MOPs figures the rest out.
We have more ideas planned for the future. But for now, we have six apps to complete. Enjoy what we have and when we have a chance, we'll share our ideas for the future.