Macmillan Learning Launches Hand-Held Device to Revolutionize Physics Lab

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iOLab will drive student engagement and provide universities budget savings

iOLab is a new handheld device for the Physics Lab.

“Some effective learning goes on when your hands are tactilely doing something and you’re seeing it happen, as opposed to just hearing or reading about it," said Dr. Selen.

Today at SXSWedu, Macmillan Learning announced the launch of iOLab, a first-of-its-kind handheld tool for college Physics courses that allows students to gather real-time data dynamically. Fully integrated with the Microsoft Office products, it enables universities to immediately solve the budgetary and space challenges of campus labs.

Invented by Mats Selen and Tim Stelzer, from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, iOLab is a handheld data-gathering device that allows Physics educators to increase student participation and engagement in class as students are able to see the results of any activity graphed with data in real time. The device communicates wirelessly to its software. Sophisticated built-in sensors give students the ability to measure force, acceleration, velocity, displacement, magnetic field, rotation, light, sound, temperature, pressure and voltages in any field-based or classroom situation.

“This is a quantum leap forward for student engagement in the classroom,” said Macmillan Learning CEO Ken Michaels. “The flexibility of this system makes it easy to design or implement virtually any experiment educators want to teach. Classrooms today are struggling with constraints of space and budget,” said CEO Ken Michaels. “iOLab offers a practical solution coupled with more authentic active learning.”

“There’s nothing like having your hands on something while your brain is thinking about it,” said Dr. Selen. “Some effective learning goes on when your hands are tactilely doing something and you’re seeing it happen, as opposed to just hearing or reading about it.”

“This kind of technology completely revolutionizes the teaching of Physics,” said Macmillan Learning Managing Director Susan Winslow. “It was born from a vision to provide a more authentic and meaningful learning experience. Students can actually work with physics concepts in action anywhere, in lab, in class or at home. It encourages experimentation, asking new kinds of questions, learning to work with data and can motivate students to really explore their own world.”

Macmillan Learning recently worked with Microsoft to develop the iOLab APP that allows students to easily import data from the cloud into excel. Any user with access to Office 365 can leverage the power of Excel to analyze the information they have captured, and share their data with their instructor, fellow students, or anyone else they choose. The APP is now available in the Microsoft store.

“The power of the device coupled with the app makes an already dynamic course much more manageable for students,” said Ms. Winslow.

Drs. Selen and Stelzer also developed the revolutionary course technologies iClicker and FlipIt (formerly smartPhysics) in partnership with Macmillan Learning.


About iOLab:
iOLab is re-imagining the idea of a Physics Lab. This revolutionary hardware software system from the authors/inventors of FlipItPhysics (smartPhysics) and iClicker, Mats Selen and Tim Stelzer, provides students with an accessible hand held data-gathering device. Wireless communication between the iOLab and the software enables a student to see the results of an experiment in real-time. They gain hands-on experience and watch their data graphed as they measure the world around them. No longer confined to the physical environment of the lab or large-scale equipment set up, a student can bring the iOLab to their dorm room, a coffee shop, anywhere they can use a laptop and iOLab! This flexibility makes it possible for instructors to design and implement virtually any experiment they want to assign their students or demonstrate in lecture. iOLab sparks the imagination and re-energizes the teaching experience; but most importantly it facilitates authentic learning of physics concepts for students!

ABOUT iOLab creators:
1.    Mats Selen earned B.Sc.('82) and M.Sc.('83) degrees in physics at the University of Guelph, and M.A.('85) and Ph.D.('89) degrees in particle physics at Princeton University. After a four year post-doc at Cornell he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois Department of Physics in 1993, where he is now the Associate Head of Undergraduate Programs. After 25 years of studying elementary particles he is shifting his research focus to understanding and improving the way students learn physics. With Illinois colleagues he developed the iclicker classroom response system, the smartPhysics learning framework, and most recently IOLabs. 

Mats Selen was one of four national winners of the 2015 U.S. Professor of the Year Award. Conducted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, the award recognized Selen as a national leader in physics education research for his innovative teaching and technological invention. Tim Stelzer is Tim Stelzer is an associate professor of physics, and distinguished teacher-scholar at the University of Illinois. He received a B.S in physics from St. Johns University in 1988 and a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1993. His particle physics research has focused on physics at hadron colliders such as the Tevatron at Fermi National Accelerator Laborarory and the LHC in Geneva Switzerland. Several of his papers are among the top cited in high energy physics.

Tim worked on the award winning transformation of the introductory physics courses at the University of Illinois and is a founding member of their Physics Education Research group. His education research has focused on making appropriate use of technology to improve student learning. He is a co-inventor of the iclicker personal response system and is coauthor of the "smartPhysics" learning system. Tim is a regular on the University’s  "Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by Their Students," and received the 2013 Excellence in Education Award from the American Physical Society .

About Macmillan Learning
Macmillan Learning improves lives through learning. Our legacy of excellence in education continues to inform our approach to developing world-class content with pioneering, interactive tools. Through deep partnership with the world’s best researchers, educators, administrators, and developers, we facilitate teaching and learning opportunities that spark student engagement and improve outcomes. We provide educators with tailored solutions designed to inspire curiosity and measure progress. Our commitment to teaching and discovery upholds our mission to improve lives through learning. To learn more, please visit or see us on Facebook, Twitter, or join our Macmillan Community.

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