cating resources, online exchanges can enable the leveraging of existing resources and the creation of collaborative resources for the future. Also, online technologies have been used in the past to replicate fairly mediocre educational techniques, Greer said. Rather than using technology to do what has always been done, the group noted that teaching could be used to present material in a way that captivates this generation of children.
The second theme was the sustainability of initiatives. “How can you not only start these programs but keep them going effectively?” he said. The group suggested that to be cost-effective, content needs to be sustainable, with modules maintained and upgraded on a regular basis. But today’s students are accustomed to media-rich content with advanced simulations and graphics, which, as Greer pointed out, can be expensive.
The third theme identified by the breakout group was the need for a culture shift in thinking about how to approach the integration of STEM learning across sectors. Rather than decrying a problem or praising a solution, American educators need to ask what is working and what is not working, said Greer. “It’s okay to celebrate the successes, but let’s also talk about what’s not working and why it’s not working so we can progress,” he said.
Participants in a second breakout group on online resources talked about the “Amazon model,” reported David Evans, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, in which additional resources are suggested based on what a teacher has used in the past. In this way, educators could build their own professional development portfolio, as well as enhancing interactions and sharing of resources across communities. For students and for teachers, online resources also could play a role in a badging system for student achievement and for professional development, the group suggested. Also, in their use of online resources, both teachers and students generate a great deal of data, and Evans said the possible uses of these data have not been well explored.
Scaling up either learning opportunities or professional development requires online approaches, said Evans. That can be the difference between reaching millions of people and thousands. But, he noted, resources need to be vetted and curated, rather than just consisting of the first three hits of a Google search. On the other hand, excessive control over resources can result in others setting the agenda or constraints on resources because of intellectual property protections. Collection points, portals, or hubs could make vetted materials accessible. Another possible model is what Evans called the “Yelp model,” where the users of resources rate those materials and help determine whether they are recommended to others.
This breakout group also discussed blended learning, where online resources are combined with face-to-face learning. This approach, too,