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Introduction

Background

One of the key missions of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate for Education and Human Resources is the improvement of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) education. Through its Division of Undergraduate Education, the NSF has supported the development of innovative SME&T curricula, research on the processes by which students learn about SME&T, professional development in teaching and pedagogy for both university faculty and future teachers of grades K-12 in the SME&T disciplines, and the upgrading and improvement of undergraduate SME&T laboratories.

Despite efforts by individuals and calls for improvement from prestigious national organizations (e.g., Clinton and Gore, 1994; National Research Council, 1991, 1995, 1996a; National Science Foundation, 1992, 1996b; Project Kaleidoscope, 1991, 1997), progress in the reform and improvement of undergraduate SME&T education often has been agonizingly slow. Among the many reasons the improvement of SME&T education has not progressed more rapidly are a reward and incentive system that often emphasizes research productivity over excellence in teaching, a lack of attention during postbaccalaureate and postdoctoral training to effective approaches in teaching and learning, changing demographics and levels of pre-college preparation in SME&T among undergraduate student populations, and shrinking institutional budgets.

During the past three decades, the NSF and other public and private sources have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to support the development of classroom and laboratory programs and materials that could, if widely disseminated and adopted, help change how undergraduates in the United States learn about SME&T. However, many college and university faculty are either unaware of these resources, have difficulty accessing them, or resist their use. As a result, too many faculty continue to spend considerable time and effort “reinventing" courses, course materials, and laboratory programs that are already available to them and could be adapted to their own teaching situations.

"[T]he most crucial task now facing the NSF and other funders is the conversion of innovation to broad and sweeping change. We know a good deal about what works well for SME&T students. It will require deep commitment to integrate the best of these innovations into the ongoing life of undergraduate SME&T education, thereby effecting the comprehensive educational change that is needed."

JOAN GIRGUS (NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, 1996b. P. 43)

Today, an individual faculty member who is interested in changing the way he or she teaches SME&T has no central "single point of contact" to begin a search for useful ideas. Journals oriented toward education in the various SME&T disciplines are a place to start but are generally found in toto only in print and therefore are time consuming to search. Because many such resources are published by disciplinary professional societies, they may not emphasize interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning that are being recommended by reformers of undergraduate SME&T education. Moreover, journal articles usually do not contain discussions of techniques and materials that have not worked in authors' classrooms and laboratories (which would allow readers either to avoid repeating these activities and procedures or to modify them). Many more innovations are never disseminated or published.

Electronic searching may rapidly yield additional information not found in printed literature or in other, less traditional sources. However, many fac-



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--> Introduction Background One of the key missions of the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Directorate for Education and Human Resources is the improvement of undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) education. Through its Division of Undergraduate Education, the NSF has supported the development of innovative SME&T curricula, research on the processes by which students learn about SME&T, professional development in teaching and pedagogy for both university faculty and future teachers of grades K-12 in the SME&T disciplines, and the upgrading and improvement of undergraduate SME&T laboratories. Despite efforts by individuals and calls for improvement from prestigious national organizations (e.g., Clinton and Gore, 1994; National Research Council, 1991, 1995, 1996a; National Science Foundation, 1992, 1996b; Project Kaleidoscope, 1991, 1997), progress in the reform and improvement of undergraduate SME&T education often has been agonizingly slow. Among the many reasons the improvement of SME&T education has not progressed more rapidly are a reward and incentive system that often emphasizes research productivity over excellence in teaching, a lack of attention during postbaccalaureate and postdoctoral training to effective approaches in teaching and learning, changing demographics and levels of pre-college preparation in SME&T among undergraduate student populations, and shrinking institutional budgets. During the past three decades, the NSF and other public and private sources have provided hundreds of millions of dollars to support the development of classroom and laboratory programs and materials that could, if widely disseminated and adopted, help change how undergraduates in the United States learn about SME&T. However, many college and university faculty are either unaware of these resources, have difficulty accessing them, or resist their use. As a result, too many faculty continue to spend considerable time and effort “reinventing" courses, course materials, and laboratory programs that are already available to them and could be adapted to their own teaching situations. "[T]he most crucial task now facing the NSF and other funders is the conversion of innovation to broad and sweeping change. We know a good deal about what works well for SME&T students. It will require deep commitment to integrate the best of these innovations into the ongoing life of undergraduate SME&T education, thereby effecting the comprehensive educational change that is needed." JOAN GIRGUS (NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, 1996b. P. 43) Today, an individual faculty member who is interested in changing the way he or she teaches SME&T has no central "single point of contact" to begin a search for useful ideas. Journals oriented toward education in the various SME&T disciplines are a place to start but are generally found in toto only in print and therefore are time consuming to search. Because many such resources are published by disciplinary professional societies, they may not emphasize interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning that are being recommended by reformers of undergraduate SME&T education. Moreover, journal articles usually do not contain discussions of techniques and materials that have not worked in authors' classrooms and laboratories (which would allow readers either to avoid repeating these activities and procedures or to modify them). Many more innovations are never disseminated or published. Electronic searching may rapidly yield additional information not found in printed literature or in other, less traditional sources. However, many fac-

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--> ulty are not well versed in using electronic tools for searching, and currently available search engines may not be sophisticated enough to narrow a search to information that is truly useful to educators. In addition, search engines that provide hundreds or thousands of “hits" on a topic can be more discouraging than helpful. As a result, many individual educators and institutions that support their efforts to improve undergraduate SME&T education believe that reform efforts need an easily accessible and searchable source of courses, laboratories, and other programs that have been used successfully in a variety of educational settings, as well as objectively evaluated for their effectiveness. A recent report recommended that NSF should Provide additional leadership for change in undergraduate SME&T education, beyond program funding, specifically: 1. Together with other major players (such as the NRC, AAAS, ERIC, and the National Library of Medicine), explore the establishment of a national electronic system for validating and disseminating successful educational practices . . . 3. Provide specific problem-solving training sessions for faculty across institutions, in topics such as how to do inquiry and collaborative learning in large "lecture" classes, how to assess learning outcomes, and how to document learning gains at the departmental and institutional levels. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, 1996b, P. 72 The development of a digital National Library (NL) may be one approach to disseminating and evaluating such information. Digital libraries are large-scale collections of information where materials are stored or referred to in electronic format and delivered to users through dedicated lines or, increasingly, over the Internet.1 Within the past decade, the quantity and variety of digital information sources have grown rapidly. Ongoing innovations in information technologies and increased support by the public and private sectors for providing rapid access to large amounts of information in virtually all areas of knowledge have led to the development of a wide range of autonomous, often unconnected and uncoordinated digital collections and services by businesses, organizations, and educational institutions (Bishop, 1995). These digital databases and other electronic resources serve as repositories for all types of information that increasingly can be searched both within and across collections (Schatz and Chen, 1996). "Innovations and successes in education need to spread with the speed and efficiency of new research results." NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL, 1996a, P. 6 Ample evidence now exists to indicate that the day-to-day operation of a business or practice of a scientific field can be transformed through the use of electronically mediated communications—most notably electronic mail and applications of the World Wide Web. Such communications enable those actively engaged in business or academic disciplines to receive more information more rapidly 1   Dr. Christine Borgman, UCLA, offered the following definition as determined by participants at the UCLA/NSF Workshop, "Social Aspects of Digital Libraries": "[Workshop participants] determined that digital libraries encompass two complementary ideas: 1. Digital libraries are a set of electronic resources and associated technical capabilities for creating, searching, and using information. In this sense they are an extension and enhancement of information storage and retrieval systems that manipulate digital data in any medium (text, images, sounds, static or dynamic images) and exist in distributed networks. The content of digital libraries includes data, metadata that describe various aspects of data (e.g., representation, creator, owner, reproduction rights), and metadata that consists of links or relationships to other data or metadata, whether internal or external to the digital library; and 2. Digital libraries are constructed—collected and organized—by a community of users, and their functional capabilities support the information needs and uses of that community. They are a component of communities in which individuals and groups interact with each other, using data, information, and knowledge resources and systems. In this sense they are an extension, enhancement, and integration of a variety of information institutions as physical places where resources are selected, collected, organized, preserved, and accessed in support of a user community. These information institutions include, among others, libraries, museums, archives, and schools, but digital libraries also extend and serve other community settings, including classrooms, offices, laboratories, homes, and public spaces." (Borgman et al., 1996) This report is available on line at http://www.gslis.ucla.edu/DL/UCLA_DL_REPORT.html.

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--> than ever before. Even with relatively unsophisticated search engines, finding electronic information online has become an important part of the daily routine of business people, scientists, and engineers. By accelerating the dissemination of research findings, digital libraries are having a major impact in fields such as physics and computer science. The benefits of such instantaneously available sources of information are apparent to the scientific and engineering research communities and to the agencies that support them. In response, the NSF, the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are developing a major joint research initiative in digital libraries (the Digital Library Initiative). This initiative currently consists of projects at six universities and more than 75 partner organizations whose primary focus is to advance research on issues associated with constructing a digital national library for research communities (National Science Foundation, 1997).2 Research from these initiatives has begun to point the way to how to store, manage, and retrieve large quantities of highly heterogeneous information (e.g., text, graphics, animations, software, etc.). These new tools and techniques go far beyond the simple subject or keyword searches on which today's Internet search engines are based. Digital libraries also might benefit the scientific, mathematics, and engineering communities that are engaged in higher education. With the computerization of college and university campuses across the United States and the concurrent increase in access to the World Wide Web, post-secondary SME&T faculty and students are increasingly likely to need, appreciate, and use high-quality material made available to them over the Internet (National Research Council, 1994; Resmer, 1997), In the past five years alone, the Internet has provided tools and challenges in instructional methods, curriculum development, and research unparalleled in any comparable historical period in the United States (Daniel, 1996; Laurillard, 1993). Indeed, information technology has the potential to restructure fundamentally methods and processes of teaching and learning both in-and outside of the school and university environments (e.g., Panel on Educational Technology, 1997). Many electronic databases currently exist for both the K-12 and undergraduate SME&T communities (e.g., ERIC, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education; NASA's Web sites; databases and other resources available from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Geographic Society, National Science Teachers Association, Project Kaleidoscope, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the NRC's Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, GenenTech, and numerous professional scientific, mathematics, and engineering societies). These databases are operated and maintained independently of each other, updated at varying intervals, and directed toward different user audiences. Because sponsoring organizations decide which materials they will make available at their sites, the type and quality of information Can vary considerably. The potential for these databases and emerging digital libraries in various research communities to serve as prototypes or models for a national repository of information for the undergraduate SME&T communities warrants additional discussion and consideration. Process With such history and promising research results from other realms in hand, it is not surprising that the NSF might look to these experiences and experiments to address a fundamental reality of much of undergraduate SME&T education: most innovation undertaken by institutions and individual faculty members in SME&T education cannot readily build on the efforts of others. The undergraduate SME&T education community has long articulated the need for a national resource that would provide ready access to a comprehensive and dynamic collection of high-quality educational materials. In response, the NSF has considered soliciting proposals to design, construct, and administer a National Library for Undergraduate Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education as an enterprise that eventually would be self-sustaining. A broad vision for what such a library for undergraduate SME&T education might include was articulated in a conceptual plan envisioned by the National Science Foundation: 2   Additional information on the Digital Library Initiative is available on line at http://dli.grainger.uiuc.edu/national.htm.

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--> "The National Library will utilize advanced information technologies to provide ready access to and use of a large and distributed resource of current and future educational products and materials for undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) education. In addition to high-quality learning and teaching resources supported by a solid base of research, these materials would include assessment and evaluation instruments and results that would inform current and future practice. "The Library will achieve this vision by developing robust procedures and protocols to: 1) "capture" best educational practices and materials; 2) review and validate materials to ensure that the highest standards are maintained; 3) provide ready identification and retrieval of materials and information about materials through effective indexing and linking; and 4) offer a dynamic and interactive environment that will encourage broad participation in educational initiatives. It is expected that the National Library of Undergraduate Science Education will serve the nation as the premier provider of effective educational resources." H. RICHTOL, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (PERSONAL COMMUNICATION) Motivated by this vision, the NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education asked the National Research Council (NRC) to examine various issues associated with the establishment of a digital National Library (NL) to support undergraduate SME&T education. In response, under the auspices of the NRC's Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (CSMEE) and the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), the NRC established a steering committee to oversee this project. The Steering Committee consisted of representatives from each of the NRC's committees and boards that deal with some aspect of post-secondary SME&T education (Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, Mathematical Sciences Education Board, Board on Engineering Education, and the Committee on Information Technology). The Steering Committee commissioned a series of papers from acknowledged experts in SME&T education, digital library and electronic information technologies, and economic and legal aspects of digitizing and posting information (e.g., intellectual property rights, copyright law). The commissioned papers, revisions of which are reprinted in this report as Appendix A, served as the basis for discussion at the workshop that was held August 7-8, 1997, in Washington, D.C. at the National Academy of Sciences. (See Appendix B for the Workshop Agenda.) Fifty-four invited participants and more than twenty observers from the Division of Undergraduate Education and other Directorates of the NSF attended this workshop.3 As an open meeting, the workshop was also attended by several members of the press and other interested parties. (Names and institutional affiliations of invited participants, steering committee members, and NSF and other observers who attended the workshop are listed in Appendix C. Biographical sketches of Steering Committee members and invited participants are provided in Appendix D.) Project Foci Given the potential cost of establishing a digital National Library for undergraduate SME&T education and the many issues associated with doing so, the workshop organizers attempted to provide focus to the commissioned papers and to workshop discussions by providing authors and workshop participants with the following questions: Curricular, Pedagogical, and User Issues Who and how large is the potential user populations? What is the evidence that faculty and students would utilize this resource? What impact can be expected from a digital National Library (NL) for improving undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SME&T) education? What types of materials should be included? What other kinds of support would users need to integrate materials from a library into their courses and curricula and to use them effectively and wisely? 3   NSF staff were present at all plenary and break-out sessions. They did not participate in discussions but did otter background information and answered specific questions that were raised by participants or facilitators.

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--> How might decisions about the scope and nature of the content of curricular and pedagogic materials for inclusion in the proposed NL be made? Who should be involved in making such decisions? How can an NL respond to changes in curriculum and pedagogy? Should materials be removed from the proposed NL as curriculum and pedagogy evolve? Who should make these decisions? Logistic and Technology Issues What kinds of editorial oversight are needed to build, maintain, and expand an NL? What kinds of technology are currently available to construct and store information in an NL? Would information be stored in centralized computers or dispersed at many sites? How would architecture affect search and delivery of stored materials? How can a multiyear project like this predict, adapt to, and take advantage of new technology that may emerge while an NL is being built? How can it continue to evolve over time as new generations of hardware and software take the place of earlier tools in use? Economic and Legal Issues How can we estimate or measure the costs and benefits of establishing an NL for undergraduate SME&T education? Are there alternative or complementary approaches for improving undergraduate SME&T education with the resources that would have to be committed to an NL? How much would it cost to maintain and regularly upgrade an NL? How much money should be budgeted to purchase new hardware and software to run the proposed NL as information technology advances in the future? What are the long-term financial implications for hardware and software to support advances both in technology and pedagogy? Could an NL eventually become financially self-sufficient? Who might take over the costs if the government does not continue its support? Organization of the Project Organization of Commissioned Papers and Workshop Discussions Authors of commissioned papers were asked to focus their comments as well as their questions and talking points on one of the three major topics outlined above as project foci. Some authors concentrated their efforts on delineating the issues in one major topic, and some discussed additional topics. Commissioned papers were distributed to registered participants a week before the workshop. Following the workshop, authors were given the opportunity to revise their papers which are reprinted in Appendix A of this report. The workshop agenda of plenary and break-out sessions allowed participants first to consider and articulate the user, pedagogical, technical, economic, and legal issues that the NSF would need to consider should the agency decide to pursue the establishment of an NL for SME&T education. With the discussion from Day I as background, participants then proceeded on Day 2 to address whether the NSF should move forward with this project, given the large amounts of money that would be required and the other ways in which these funds might be spent by the Division of Undergraduate Education to improve undergraduate SME&T education. When registering for the workshop, participants were asked to prioritize their preferences for participation in the workshop's two days of break-out sessions. Each session was based on one of the three loci articulated earlier. Because most participants have expertise in more than one of these major areas, they were assigned to attend a break-out session dealing with their second choice topic on the first day and their first choice topic during the second day of the workshop. To allow for continuity of discussions between the first and second days, the same facilitators moderated the same break-out sessions both days. Reports from the break-out groups are summarized in the body of this report. Organization of the Report This report is based largely, but not exclusively, on the papers commissioned for the workshop and on

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--> the discussions and conclusions that emerged from the workshop itself. The commissioned papers as revised by authors following the workshop are reprinted intact in Appendix A, so the body of this report does not summarize them systematically. However, authors of and topics in commissioned papers occasionally were the focus of discussion during the workshop and so appear in that context. Other sources of information include published literature that was made available by participants during the workshop, additional feedback and comments from workshop participants after the workshop, and the other references that are cited herein. Participants in this workshop were charged with examining a broad spectrum of issues, and many perspectives were expected. To provide readers of this report with the breadth and richness of those perspectives and insights, first a detailed overview and synopsis is provided of major themes from presentations by plenary speakers, from discussions that followed plenary presentations and reports from break-out sessions, and from general discussions throughout the workshop. The workshop's major themes are then organized and synthesized into critical issues and questions concerning 1) Curricular, Pedagogical, and User Issues; 2) Logistic and Technology Issues; and 3) Economic and Legal Issues. Finally, conclusions from the workshop and recommendations from the Steering Committee based on all the information at hand are provided. References to specific programs and initiatives that were discussed by workshop participants are included throughout this report. These programs are cited for information purposes only and do not imply endorsement by the National Research Council.