As for the past, the improvement of Fractions Lab has not been straightforward, but implied to measure feedback and requirements gathered from partners, teachers and students.
The results of this joint work – which would not have been possible without the substantial contribution of all the Consortium – is an improved and renewed version of Fractions Lab, which is now even more suitable for various students’ learning needs and for teachers’ needs.
To sum up, these months of work on Fractions Lab generated:
- addition of new functionalities;
- restyling of some of the older ones;
- improvement of other features.
Let’s see in more details what have been added and/or enhanced.
Every representation type is now available. Users have now at their disposal number lines, rectangles, set of objects (hearts, half moons and stars) and liquid measures.
A place to experiment with additions/subtractions and comparisons
The Operations Area has been radically changed to fully value the evolution of this feature and for an exhaustive description of the previous status of Fractions Lab, see Intuitive Interaction Interfaces for Elementary Mathematics.
The Testaluna team strengthened the usability and enhanced the look and feel of this area, as shown in the image below.
Users can now open the Operations Area by clicking the button (that have been simplified) on the top of the screen and then select which operation (between sum, subtraction and comparison) they wish to experiment with.
Worried about equivalent fractions? There is good news for you
In order to assist students with the concept of equivalent fractions, we set up the find equivalent feature and simplified the interaction with equivalent fractions.
When the student clicks with right mouse on a fraction, he/she can generate one or more equivalent fractions.
The equivalent fractions can then be further subdivided.
Additionally, when you generate more equivalent fractions, it is quite easy to forget what was the original fraction. Therefore, we added the Show Original utility, which can be enabled by right clicking on equivalent fractions (see the image below).
Moreover, when users change the original fraction, the ones generated by it change accordingly.
So, as an instance, if we have 3/5 – which is the original fraction – and 21/35 – which is the equivalent fraction, as in the picture
and we modify the numerator of the first fraction from 3/5 to 6/5, the change will affect the generated fraction as well, as shown below.
TIP: Task information Package
Thanks to the implementation of this new feature, users can now define a starting configuration for Fractions Lab.
This means that teachers can define the title and provide a description of a particular task to be assigned to the students, as well as an initial configuration on the working area of Fractions Lab.
Restyling of the feedback popup
When the platform provides students with feedback or messages that require their total attention, a popup appears and students can hear a synthetic voice reading the message. In order to mitigate the impact of this voice on students’ concentration – as highlighted during the evaluation studies – we have worked on the design of the popup. So, near the text of the message, we added a robotic character, who should be perceived by the user as the owner of the voice, a sort of guide who goes along with the student in his exploration in the world of fractions.
Two more functionalities added
We also introduced two new features to improve usability:
- The Zoom, at the bottom right of the screen.This feature fully shows its usefulness when working with partitioned fractions.
- The Show/Hide Highlight utility – that can be used to highlight a particular fraction on the working area (e.g. to show it to the teacher).
Registered users can test the new version of Fractions Lab at http://it2l.dcs.bbk.ac.uk/italk2learn/
We look forward to receiving your comments!