The CryptoClub: Extending Learning with Student-Generated Tutorials
Approximately 150 middle-grade students in 15 afterschool cryptography clubs, mostly in Illinois, are developing online video tutorials that explain their solutions to mathematics and cryptography problems.
In existing CryptoClub after school programs, middle school students use mathematics to make and break secret codes. The CryptoClub website has tools for encrypting, messages to crack, treasure hunts and other activities. In this project, the learning in fifteen Crypto Clubs is extended by having the students generate tutorials that explain how they solve mathematics and cryptographic problems. The flexibility of the after school setting provides the opportunity to experiment with content and technology. Student-friendly ways to create the tutorials are developed and best practices for incorporating tutorial making in CryptoClub programs are investigated. A collection of vetted online tutorials about mathematics and cryptography created by students and teachers is to be available to all on the CryptoClub website. At least 15 teachers are to be trained to assist their students in developing tutorials. These teachers can then use this learning technique as they teach other mathematics topics.
The research investigates the features of the tutorials that students and teachers consider to be appealing and easy to learn from. The kinds of mathematics problems that make helpful tutorials and promote communications skills are studied. By focusing on specific topics and using students within the same clubs as control, the project leadership can conduct a controlled study of learning that occurs on those topics and thus investigate whether the students learn mathematics from the experience of developing video tutorials. The project also considers the technology and software that facilitate the development of the tutorials and the system for online sharing, rating and sorting of video tutorials that promote the development, submission and use of the tutorials. Students will develop technical literacy and skills in mathematics, computer technology and communications and become aware of cryptography as a possible STEM career as well.