May 072012

Stellenbosh University is an associate member of a very exciting global initiative supported by HP as well as ISTE and the New Media Consortium. The aim of the initiative is to advance the teaching of STEM+ disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) through the use of innovations in technology.

Here is how the HP Catalyst Initiative (, as it is called, describes the project:

Innovating approaches to STEM

Education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is key to social innovation and economic opportunity. This is true for students who become STEM professionals, and for all students who graduate in the 21st century. But literacy in STEM subjects is lagging, and skilled STEM students are in short supply. HP launched the Catalyst Initiative to get to the root causes of the challenge, and to explore the future of STEM education. With the HP Catalyst Initiative, we’re establishing a network of leading educators, education institutions, and key stakeholders in selected countries to explore innovative approaches to STEM education. By combining technology with expertise, we can empower great teaching and create transformational learning experiences for students.

There are a host of very interesting projects around STEM that lecturers might find very interesting (and maybe even link up with), from real-time in-class formative assessment through tablets (InkSurvey – ) to virtual specialised remote chemistry laboroatories and using Google Docs Spreadheets for capturing live experiment data.

To view video posters of the 57+ projects please visit:

Find more information (and to link up) on the initiative’s Facebook page:  and by following the Twitter hashtag #hpcatalyst

Other interesting software related to the innitiative:

  • (web-based educational platform that promotes opportunities for social learning – Ananda Gunawardena, Carnegie Mellon University).
  • InkSurvey (A classroom tool for real-time formative assessment – Frank & Susan Kowalski, Colorado School of Mines).
  • Google docs spreadsheets for realtime and collaborative input and analysis of laboratory data (Norm Herr, California State University).
  • OpenSim: free software to create SecondLife like worlds.
  • (use un: measure5 and pw: measure5): online system to create, distill and assess creativity and critical thinking.
  • Classroom presenter ( ): Free software for tablets for annotation as well as remote desktop sharing (i.e a teacher can see all the students desktops’ remotely, and can share presentations wit ha class – great for smaller classrooms where students have tablets).

 Keywords: STEM Science Technology Engineering Maths HP Catalyst formative assessement InkSurvey Classroom Salon