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One of the most persistent themes in education today is a call for new practices and new strategies to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning. Concerns about the quality of STEM education reflect the general feeling that many opportunities for improvements through the use of information and communication technologies (TT)i have not been realized. To remedy the situation, a number of local and regional initiatives have been launched for using TT-based applications and tools in learning systems. The results of these initiatives have shown that TT-based approaches can be effective in educational settings. The promising possibilities of TT- based tools have also sparked the imaginations of faculty, learning scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and political leaders around the world. One consistent hope shared by most stakeholders in STEM education is that, as TT-based systems mature, they waif transform the teaching and learning environment. A number of broad national initiatives have been launched to advance TT-based education, but so far TT-based teaching and learning is characterized by "islands of innovation," rather than overall change. Many innovations have been made, some of them successful, but they have only benefited limited, isolated audiences. So far, national coalitions have included several, but not all, of the constituents of STEM teaching and learning. These initiatives have created a community of innovators however which has generated tools, products, and services. . . . . . . _ . . . ~ , , We have a window of opportunity to assemble n~gn~y actvancect ~ ~ -nasect systems In support ot ectucat~on in a relatively short time if we can coordinate our efforts and agree on a strategic vision for the future. The workshop participants agreed that coordinated leadership wall be necessary and that a national conversation should be focused on topics such as interoperability and shared objectives for the future. This workshop sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering is an attempt to take advantage of the window of opportunity to promote a national discourse on the future of TT-based educational initiatives in post-secondar-Y STEM education. The ~ The term IT is used in this report to represent information and communication technologies. 1
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IT-Based Educational Materials: Workshop Report outcome of these initiatives might also have significant implications for K-12 and continuing education. At the request of the Kavli Institute and in response to the growing concerns of leading educators in engineering and related disciplines, NAE established the Committee on Achieving Compatibility in IT-Based Educational Materials to explore ways of coordinating current initiatives into a coherent strategy for integrating advanced IT-based tools and resources into STEM education. At the request of the project sponsors, the committee convened a workshop of experts to discuss how broad compatibility for IT-based educational materials might be achieved. The committee outlined four general categories around which the workshop discussions were organized: architecture; tools and technology; content and pedagogy; and organizational, cultural, and legal issues. This report summarizes the themes that emerged from the workshop and presents the recommendations of the steering committee based on the workshop discussions. In this four-month project and single workshop, the committee did not attempt to come up with a detailed plan to reach long-term, or even medium-term, goals for IT- based educational materials. The report recommendations are intended as guidelines for a meaningful conversation that could lead to: (~) broad interoperability for IT-based educational tools and resources; and (~) improvements in the quality of IT-based materials for STEM education. The overall goal is to transform the STEM educational environment. ~~ ~ ~ ~ . ~ If the guidelines are followed, the coordinated conversations recommended in this report, coupled with lessons learned from pilot studies and other activities, could result in more detailed plans and strategies. This report presents a template for initial activities and policies. ... ..... ; ,........... A......... A....... .~.f.fff . ............ :: .... Of the several themes that emerged from the workshop discussions, the most significant was a broad consensus that past interactions between the technology .. .. . .. . .. . .. .. ....... .................................. .. ........ ...................................................... .. ........ ............................................... .... ....................... ..................... ....................... .............................. ....................... ......... community, the educat~on-research community, and the community I. of practicing educators and learners have not been effective. A ~:::::::::::::-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-::-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:::::::::::::::-:-:-:-. C,... ''''' .. comprehensive solution will require a holistic approach to the problem, based, at a minimum, on coordinated ~~ communication among social scientists, learning ':-Y' scientists, end-users, and developers of IT-based ........ I ~ educational resources.
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Executive Summary 3 The group also agreed that pilot programs based on the shared perspectives of teachers and learners should be established to identify the challenges to interoperability, open standards, and effective learning. These coordinated pilot programs should provide concrete examples that can inform continuing discussions. Considering the complexities and enormous resources it would take to address the problems of multiple educational sectors, including postsecondary, K-12, and continuing education, the committee decided to focus this report on postsecondary education. However, the recommendations are largely applicable to other educational sectors. The first chapter provides an overview of the problem, and an overview of the workshop discussions. The next chapter describes the existing patchwork environment in TT-based STEM education and the glaring lack of a unifying vision. One approach to addressing this problem is then described identifying and filling the critical gaps in knowledge of the STEM learning process (particularly in an TT- context). identifying the knowledge gaps wall require a comprehensive strategy that aligns technical, cultural, organizational, legal, and economic objectives with educational objectives. Initiatives should be structured to ensure that programs can be sustained after initial funding runs out. Chapter ~ describes a vision of TT-transformed education, characterized by a vibrant teaching and learning community and sustained by an environment and infrastructure that encourages continuous improvement in TT-based educational practices and products. The chapter includes a broad outline of a critical infrastructure: open architectures; community-defined technological specifications that support varying levels of interoperability; organizational and cultural strategies that nurture communities and support effective teaching and learning; and legal and economic frameworks that encourage openness and sustainability. To ensure interoperability, cataloging and metadata can be used to locate and identify educational content. Learning-system initiatives would address the encoding of data for exchange among cooperative systems, as well as the semantics of learning content. To ensure the accessibility and usefulness of resources in a given environment several additional issues of interoperability wait have to be addressed, including integration among systems within an enterprise, and with the needs of too} portability and the required modularity of applications within a system. in all of these cases, open specifications and standards waif be essential to the shared development and use of educational resources. The final chapter presents the recommendations of the steering committee. These high-priority actions are intended to establish a framework for strategic efforts to realize the envisioned educational environment described in chapter four. The appendixes provide the workshop agenda, summaries of workshop discussions a .. . . ~ , . roster of participants, and brief biographies of members of the steering committee.
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4 IT-Based Educational Materials: Workshop Report The key elements of a strategy for transitioning from the current patchwork environment to the TT-transformed environment are presented in the final chapter of this report. The recommendations are based on three critical, interrelated elements of the strategy: building community, creating organizational enablers, and coordinating change. The report does not provide a detailed road maP, which the committee believes should be ................. ~ . . ~. . ................ .. ................ ~6 developed with participation and leadership ot leading national organizations. The initial strategy would provide a general plan for moving ahead. The major recommendations appear below. . ~ ~ ............. Recommendation ~. A multidisciplinary, precursor committee drawn from stakeholders in STEM education should oversee the establishment of a comprehensive national strategy to achieve TT-transformed STEM education and the development of an engaged community that can modify (as needed) and implement the strategy. The precursor committee should be appointed by a national STEM organization, such as the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, National Science Foundation or National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The precursor committee should ultimately identify an organizational champion to serve as a long-term oversight body to coordinate future activities. Recommendation ~. Follow-on workshops should be held to continue the discussion begun at the National Academy of Engineering workshop described in this report. The workshops should be coordinated and reflect the coherent strategy developed by a precursor committee of experts from all relevant disciplines. . . . · · . . . Workshop participants ShOUld represent all relevant constituencies, and the workshops should address issues related to interoperability, sustainability, and wide dissemination. Recommendation ~. A precursor steering committee should identify and solicit the support of an organizational champion to carry out the long-term activities in support of TT-based STEM education. The organizational champion should be a significant presence in the STEM education community, and should carry out the strategy and vision set forth by the precursor committee. This would include the establishment and oversight of multiple communities and a national laboratory that supports research and development objectives for the advancement of TT-enabled resources and practices. The organizational champion should be a national organization such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Education, or a coalition of STEM professional societies. Recommendation .. All transitional initiatives should build on the Creative Commons framework, as appropriate.
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Executive Summary 5 RecomL~nendlation ~. A national laboratory should be established to pilot test TT- enabled resources and practices for STEM educational applications. The laboratory should engage leading scholars in research on fundamental processes in TT-enabled STEM learning, provide a test-bed for interoperability, and provide a mechanism for documenting the impact of specific resources and practices on STEM learning. The laboratory should be developed under the leadership of an organizational champion and with the support of leading government agencies (e.g., National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Department of Education) Recommendation 6. A targeted research agenda should be established for the development of social, educational, and economic models for improved STEM learning in an TT-enabled context. Details of the research agenda should be generated through follow-on workshops and funded by agencies involved in the advancement of research on STEM education (e.g., National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Education, and leading private foundations). The ultimate success of this initiative wall be measured by the response of leading government agencies and private foundations to the issues raised herein. As a result of activities and interactions to date, the committee has affirmed and strengthened its commitment to TT-transformed STEM education. The committee hopes this report wait inspire similar commitments and excitement throughout the STEM education community. The committee acknowledges the strong leadership provided by David Auston, president of the KavIi Institute, and Wm. A. Wulf, president of the national academy of engineering, in launching this timely and important dialogue. The committee also acknowledges the significant contributions of the workshop participants, the reviewers, and the staff of the National Academy of Engineering Program Office.
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should! ultimately identify an organizational champion to serve as a long-term oversight body to coordinate future activities. Recommenclation a. Follow-on workshops should be held to continue the discussion begun at the National Academy of Engineering workshop described in this report. The workshops should be coordinated and reflect the coherent strategy developer] by a precursor committee of experts from all relevant disciplines. Workshop participants should represent all relevant constituencies, and the workshops should adciress issues related to interoperability, sustainability, and wide dissemination. Recommendation :3. A precursor steering committee should identify and solicit the support of an organizational champion to carry out the long-term activities in support of TT-based STEM education. The organizational champion should be a significant presence in the STEM education community, and should carry out the strategy and vision set forth by the precursor committee. This would inclucle the establishment and oversight of multiple communities and a national laboratory that supports research and development objectives for the advancement of IT-enablec3 resources ant! practices. The organizational champion should be a national organization such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Institute of Standards ant! Technology, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Education, or a coalition of STEM professional societies. Recommendation 4. All transitional initiatives shout build on the Creative Commons framework, as appropriate. Recommendation 5. A national laboratory shout be established to pilot test TT-enabled resources and practices for STEM educational applications. The laboratory should engage leading scholars in research on fundamental processes in IT-enabled STEM learning, provide a test-bed for interoperability, and provide a mechanism for clocumenting the impact of 6
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