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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop BACKGROUND In 1997, the National Science Foundation (NSF) asked the National Research Council's Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (the Center) to study the feasibility and logistics of establishing a digital national library (DNL) for undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. The NSF envisioned that this resource would most likely be available to users via the Internet and would provide a comprehensive resource where users from the many communities involved with the teaching and learning of science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SME&T) could reliably locate high quality information, materials, and software tools to enhance education. In response, the Center convened a workshop on August 7-8, 1997 with more than 50 people from academe, publishing, scientific societies, information technology companies, and others in attendance. By the end of that workshop most participants indicated that the idea of a digital national library is sufficiently promising that federal agencies should continue to pursue it. However, workshop participants also acknowledged that many issues needed to be resolved before such an entity could come into existence, including questions of audience, the source of materials in the library, the organization of those materials, methods of funding the effort, the protection of intellectual property, the technology it would use, ways of evaluating materials submitted or included in the library, and the organization or people who would be charged with maintaining and updating the resource.. A central issue that permeated the workshop was who the potential users for a digital national library might be. Workshop participants argued that most other questions about the feasibility and logistics for establishing a DNL hinged on deciding on the likely community of users and then establishing their needs. For example, would users be limited to undergraduate faculty and students, or would the potential user population be much broader, encompassing pre-college students and teachers as well as adult learners of all ages? What materials should be included in such a resource, given the range of potential users? What impact would a digital national library be expected to have on different users? To address these questions, the report from the steering committee for the workshop (National Research Council, 1998) recommended that the NSF1 Make a concerted effort to bring together in a series of focus groups representatives from all the communities that might be a national library's likely users and service providers. Articulate its priorities for content, technological considerations, and economic and legal models before committing to the establishment of an NL. 1 The executive summary from the report that resulted from that workshop (National Research Council, 1998) can be found in Appendix A, page 19).
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Examine whether the proposed NL should commission the creation and storage of materials vs. developing a sophisticated system of pointers to materials that reside and are maintained elsewhere. View such a resource as one that would contribute to improving and inspiring learning of undergraduate SME&T in addition to providing tools and resources to promote more effective teaching of these subjects. Appoint a Board of Overseers that is charged to work with a broad spectrum of intended users and other stakeholders before deciding what kinds of materials and in what fields of SME&T should be placed into the proposed NL both initially and over the longer term. Emphasize involvement by professional SME&T societies in developing content that could be appropriate for an NL. Include in an NL information about and access to projects in undergraduate SME&T education that the NSF and other agencies have supported financially. Develop and issue one or more Requests For Proposals (RFPs) to establish an NL for undergraduate SME&T education. The Steering Committee recommended that RFPs for preproposals not be formulated until the NSF sponsors the focus groups described above. Feedback and evaluation of information from these groups of users and providers could then serve as the basis for constructing RFPs that would help eventual awardees to address specifically the established needs and requirements of potential NL users. Given the Steering Committee's strong emphasis on communicating with potential groups of users prior to committing to any particular design structure for a NL, the NSF asked CSMEE to convene a second workshop with a diverse group of people from the high school mathematics, science, and technology communities. The Center vested responsibility for oversight of this project with the Mathematical Sciences Education Board (MSEB). MSEB is one of four standing boards and committees at the Center2 and has played a central role in examining ways to improve mathematics education, including the preparation and professional development of K-12 teachers. MSEB appointed Lee Jenkins, a member of MSEB, as the coordinator and facilitator for the project. The workshop was held on September 24-25, 1998. Most of the focus of this workshop was on science and mathematics for grades 9-12, although for some issues workshop participants3 also broadened the discussion to include grades K-12. Thus, in this report, text that describes activities or issues that focus solely on teachers or 2 The Center's other standing boards and committees are the Board on Engineering Education, Committee on Undergraduate Science Education, and the Committee on Science Education for Grades K-12. 3 A list of workshop participants is provided in Appendix B. Biographical sketches of workshop participants are listed in Appendix C.
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop students in high school refers to “grades 9-12.” The report uses the term “pre-college” to describe issues or information that could extend to grades K-12. Representatives from these communities were asked to offer their perspectives on several central questions: How might a digital national library for undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education best serve the needs of high school teachers of mathematics, science, and technology, teacher educators in these disciplines, and professional organizations for teachers? What kinds of materials could the pre-college community contribute to the content of a digital national library? How can this resource best serve the needs of future pre-college teachers? In other words, how can it be used in pre-service education and for practicing teachers, for continuing development, for teachers of science, mathematics, and technology? How can this resource best serve the needs of professional societies and organizations for teachers to do the kinds of jobs that they have to do? What materials and resources can this community contribute to a DNL that would be useful to both the pre-college and undergraduate communities was well as for lifelong learners? This report summarizes the discussion at the workshop, highlighting important issues raised by workshop participants about the use of a digital national library by the pre-college community. ORGANIZATION OF THE SECOND WORKSHOP The agenda for the workshop is presented in Appendix D. The first day of the workshop was to be devoted to articulating whether and how members of the high school science and mathematics communities might take advantage of the content of the proposed DNL. Discussion focused on the kinds of information and resources that could best meet the needs of these communities of users, how a DNL could most enhance teaching and learning for pre-service teachers, and how the DNL could engage the broadest spectrum of users from the high school community to utilize this resource. Other issues discussed on Day 1 included: the educational and technological barriers that teachers face that would limit their access to and utilization of the proposed DNL, and what the designers of the technological aspects of this resource should consider to address these barriers to usage.
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Prior to coming to the workshop, each participant was asked to consider the following questions: As a potential user (teacher or learner) of a digital national library for science, mathematics, and technology education, what would have to be available in this facility, both in terms of content and services, for you to initially log into this resource, and use it consistently for your teaching or learning? For the second day of the workshop, participants were asked to discuss the kinds of electronic products and materials that are currently available in mathematics, science, and technology for high school teachers and students that could enhance the holdings and utility of the DNL for both the pre-college and undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology communities. However, discussions of these topics did not proceed linearly as had been originally planned. Consideration of what would be required for teachers to initially log into this resource and to use it consistently became an explicit or implicit part of virtually every topic discussed throughout the two days of the workshop. These issues that had been planned for discussion only during Day 1 attracted so much attention that they continued through much of Day 2. Similarly, discussion of the kinds of resources that the pre-college community might contribute to a digital national library for undergraduate SME&T education were covered as part of the discussions on Day 1 (see Examples of Current Systems beginning on page 7). Because consideration of Day 1's issues extended into much of Day 2, the question about resources that the pre-college community could offer to the NL was considered only in a cursory fashion on the second day. WHAT MIGHT THE DIGITAL NATIONAL LIBRARY BE? Introductory Remarks The workshop began with introductory welcoming remarks by the workshop facilitator, the executive officers of CSMEE, and Dr. Frank Wattenberg, NSF program officer in charge of the Division of Undergraduate Education 's digital library initiative. Following those introductions, Jay Labov of the National Research Council next summarized the conclusions of the August 1997 workshop and the ensuing report (National Research Council, 1998) on developing a digital national library for undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education (Executive Summary from that original report is reproduced in Appendix A, page 19). Defined most broadly, the library would be a set of electronic resources and associated technical capabilities for creating, searching, and using information that would be
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop available on the Intemet and possibly via other electronic formats. But a digital national library would be different from a traditional library in being not only used but created by groups of people. Such a library would be “constructed, collected, and organized by a community of users,” said Labov. “In other words, it's the community that can define what should be in the library and the services that it can provide.” Participants at the first workshop initially thought that the community of users would primarily be college faculty. But as the discussion progressed they soon realized that the actual community of users and contributors could be much larger. “It [the user community] could be college students, graduate students, high school students,” said Labov. “It could be adults who are lifetime learners. It could be people who are coming back into community colleges and higher education after having worked. And it could be many other groups, such as professional organizations that are trying to serve their memberships by providing various kinds of information for them.” The content of a digital library could be equally diverse. It could range from raw data generated by experimental instrumentation in scientific laboratories or from educational research to peer reviewed articles. Educational materials could include course syllabi, reading lists, lab exercises, or entire textbooks. Furthermore, the content would not be static. Depending on the organization and procedures of a digital library, individual users might modify and improve upon the library's content. In this sense, remarked Miriam Masullo of IBM, it may not be possible to define a digital library without the idea of a community of users for a working definition of a “user community” as the term is employed in this report, see footnote 2 in Appendix A, page 21). Rather, the library would be defined to a large extent by and for its own identified user community. Labov noted that discussion at the previous workshop revolved around a number of difficult questions associated with a national digital library. Among those questions are: How would the content in such a library be organized and accessed? Should the material in the library be archived in a single location, or should the library merely point to where the material is stored? How can the quality of the material in a library be assessed and made public? Who would own the intellectual property contained in a digital library? How would it be funded, and who would oversee its operations? How compatible should the material in the library be with existing hardware and software? How could the material be kept up to date, and how long should it be kept in the library? How could equitable access to the library be guaranteed to everyone who could benefit from it? How should potential users be trained to take advantage of the library? How could privacy for users be maintained and protected?
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Participants at the present workshop acknowledged the difficulties surrounding many of these questions. But they also emphasized the great value that a digital national library would have for the pre-college community. “Electronically-based media offer some dimensions that are very different from paper-based media,” said Frank Wattenberg. “They offer the possibility of creating a very rich learning environment, an environment that includes interactive materials, programs, and tools that students can use as well as text-based material. So it 's a very active environment. It's also a very connected environment. Students can go off and get primary material. They can get census data. They can get real-time data from Mars.” Other workshop participants pointed to a number of other advantages of electronically based media. They can be interactive, which distinguishes them from more passive media like television. Material available through these media can be extremely current—much more so than information available through documents published in more traditional formats. And students can work together across institutions, countries, and cultures. The learning experiences available through electronic media can be particularly empowering for students. “One of my seniors became interested in a specific topic in plant science, which we discovered was in a report from in Scandinavia,” recounted Toby Horn of the Thomas Jefferson High School in Virginia. “So we went to the National Agricultural Library's website and then requested the report. That child is now majoring in natural resources. This was one of those crystallizing events that he could see: My idea connects with someone else's.” A digital library also would complement other kinds of educational materials. Kimberly Roempler of the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse cited an example of a physics textbook that has a website with links and online projects organized chapter by chapter. Other websites offer supplemental materials that can allow students to catch up with a lesson or go beyond the material presented in a class. A digital national library could make it possible to extend the size and diversity of the community involved in education. For example, it could provide a way of getting parents and families more involved with the schools. “Parents could go into a section dealing with homework, find the concept, and help their child,” said Katylee Hoover of the National Science Foundation. It also could support the provision of educational resources for a multicultural society, reflecting different social and educational practices within society. In general, electronic resources could foster the growth of virtual communities organized around common interests. One of the most important of these communities consists of teachers and teacher educators. Using these tools, teacher educators could remain in touch with their students for many years after graduation. Moreover, students who shared courses and other preservice experiences could maintain contact and engage in discussions with each other more easily than would be possible via other electronic methods such as e-mail. Discussion areas in a DNL for teachers and teacher educators also would facilitate the sharing of information and ideas across universities and school districts on issues of common concern. According to Wattenberg, “We can create virtual communities in which our pre-service teachers are talking with our in-service
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop teachers, so the pre-service teachers are going to be better prepared for what they are actually going to face in the classroom; and the in-service teachers can keep in touch with the cutting edge in science and mathematics education.” The technical capabilities of a digital national library further increase its potential in education. For example, teachers interested in particular curricular or pedagogical issues could be notified automatically of new offerings in their areas of interest or study. Students could conduct individualized research through the library with a community of other students anywhere in the world.4 If structured properly, search engines could enable users to locate the materials they want even in the midst of tremendous quantities of resources. Assuming that access to the library is equitable, students everywhere would be able to get cutting-edge material. According to Wattenberg, “The NSF has supported an enormous number of very high quality projects that have produced excellent material and simply haven't had the wide impact we would have liked. It's hard for things today to be widely disseminated. The principal means has been publishing. [A digital library] offers another possible means.” As was the case at the original workshop, participants at this workshop discussed the benefits of a digital national library for a number of potential communities of users. These communities include teachers, students, parents, and professional organizations. Although these communities have many interests and needs for resources in common, they also have differing requirements for and interests in the kinds of materials that might be placed in a NL. Current workshop participants did not consider in depth the ramifications of these possible differences in the type of materials or their level of sophistication that different user communities would desire in a NL. However, the fact that discussions at this workshop also included all of these user communities reinforces the issue of defining the breadth of the community of users before beginning to construct this resource. Examples of Current Systems Participants at the workshop spent considerable time examining and discussing several websites that could act as models or prototypes of a pre-college extension of the digital national library. 4 The idea of users contributing their own work and research data to a digital library was specifically addressed in the original workshop. Participants at that workshop proposed that a section of the digital national library be set aside for such a purpose. This section might undergo less rigorous scrutiny by the governing body for content and be available as a public forum for the sharing of data, new reports, and educational software under development. For additional information, refer to points 3 and 6 on page 25 in Appendix A).
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Eisenhower National Clearinghouse One of these websites is maintained by the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) for Mathematics and Science Education.5 The ENC is a centralized site that gathers educational materials and makes them available from its own computers. Content specialists find and acquire the rights to materials, write abstracts for the resources on the site, enter data, and maintain the site catalog —a resource-intensive process that ensures quality while slowing somewhat the provision of resources. A search engine allows users to find the materials in which they are interested. The site is currently getting more than 2 million hits every month, and the clearinghouse expects that number to grow substantially. ENC also provides links to related and recommended sites. A frequently updated “Digital Dozen” points visitors “to what we think are the best sites and the best resources available,” said Roempler, who directs the Instructional Resources Division of the Clearinghouse. Links to regional consortia and collaborators enable users to find local contacts. The budget for the website is about $4.6 million per year, with funding provided by the Department of Education. The Clearinghouse has limited means for raising money, according to Roempler, and is dependent on continued federal funding. Evaluations of ENC products (including their website) have been conducted through surveys of users, but the actual impact of the resources it provides is difficult to measure. Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) A somewhat different model is provided by the Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM) site, maintained by the U.S. Department of Education's Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC).6 GEM is a guide to educational material on the Internet. According to the National Library of Education's Keith Stubbs, “we are trying to develop a way to distribute the work so that the authors and creators of material can do some classification and cataloging of their work, and we can then gather that information into this gateway.” Like the ENC collection, GEM offers search engines so that users can find specific materials. But unlike ENC, GEM is a distributed model that points to resources that reside on many different computers and computer networks rather than collecting and cataloging those resources. At this point, GEM has about 3,000 resources in its database. “That doesn't cover the whole Internet yet,” said Stubbs. “But we have a mechanism that could grow if it's handled well.” Participation in GEM is voluntary, Stubbs said. There are no financial incentives for being listed in the database. “The incentive is that more people will find you.” GEM is one of about 30 websites maintained by ERIC. 5 Available at: <http://www.enc.org/index.htm> 6 Available at: <http//geminfo.org>
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Another ERIC website is Ask Eric,7 which gets about 1,000 questions from teachers each week. There are at least 70 other “ask an expert” services on the Internet, according to Stubbs. 8“We are trying to develop a community of these people to share best practices, tools, and knowledge so that people can do referrals, ” he said. The Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) site.9 FREE is an interagency website of the federal government that is maintained by the U.S. Department of Education. It provides links to hundreds of Internet-based educational resources supported by agencies across the federal government. Resources are listed by subject or can be searched, and the site invites curriculum developers to participate with federal agencies in developing and making available new materials. Content at this website is organized using GEM's subject classification system. Genentech's Access Excellence Workshop participants also visited several privately maintained websites. One is Access Excellence,10 a website supported by Genentech, Inc., that is designed primarily for and by high school biology teachers. About three hundred teachers who competed successfully to become fellows in the program received a laptop, modem, and printer. These teachers provided descriptions of their teaching philosophy, their methods of working with other teachers, and sample lessons. These inputs provided the basis for the site, which is now used by teachers from across the United States. Additional features include a collection of innovative teaching ideas and activities, online forums and internet data collection collaborations where teachers can discuss new ideas and best practices, and news articles and other information useful to biology teachers. National Research Council's Project RISE Project RISE,11 a website intended to increase the involvement of scientists and engineers in public education, took a different approach to the presentation of exemplary materials. It offered about a dozen examples of exemplary projects that showed the different kinds of roles that scientists and engineers could play in improving pre-college science and technology education. The website also posted articles and other published documents that described how scientists and engineers had gotten involved in pre-college education. The site was developed with extensive participation from the intended users. A working conference of about 25 leaders of successful partnerships guided the design of the site. The same group field-tested the site to refine it. 7 Available at: <http://eric.syr.edu> 8 For example, see the Virtual Reference Desk at <http://www.vrd.org> 9 Available at: <http://www.ed.gov/free> 10 Available at: <http://www.gene.com/ae> 11 Available at: <http://www.nas.edu/rise>
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Though the site still exists, it is no longer being funded and now is minimally maintained. “We have to remember not to be overly optimistic about our resources,” said Jan Tuomi, who organized the site for the National Research Council and described her experiences at the workshop. “The resources needed to maintain a site are significant, especially the more interactivity or resources that you promise people …You have to make sure that you have a layered approach so that you know you still maintain a core layer even if resources get tight. ”12 One interesting point made about some of the websites examined is that they do not necessarily have to be provided over the web. Self-contained sites like Access Excellence or ENC can be provided through other means, such as from a CD-ROM or other technology. That removes the need for a user to move from website to website, which always risks a busy signal or nonfunctioning links. More direct access to information also can better match the needs of teachers. Teachers often may download and save information or collect resources from a variety of sources for both immediate or later use in their classrooms. They don't necessarily need realtime access to the information being used. Rather, said Kurt Moses of the Academy for Educational Development, teachers need to control the content, sequence, intensity, level, and behavior of the materials they are using. “Just-in-time information may be fine for banking, ” said Moses. “But is it fine for teaching?”13 The other advantage of self-contained sites, said Masullo, is that they can help equalize access. A device called a proxy server can function as a predigested web site without the need to pay for real-time connections to the Internet14. Digital Broadcast Satellite (DBS) technologies can be used to refresh gateway servers at the rate of some 600 megabytes of content (approximately the content of a CD-ROM) in ten minutes. From those gateway servers, information can be disseminated via standard cable (in addition to the Internet), for broader access. DBS, which is, by definition, wireless also can reach users directly in isolated or remote areas where cable and Internet access are scarce, providing them with rich multimedia and interactive experiences. Such delivery systems could be critical for increasing equity of access to information from a NL. Using satellite or ground-based technology, said Masullo, “overnight I 12 Tuomi indicated that establishing this website cost more than $250,000 over 24 months. In addition to the costs associated with the building of the site, expenses for this project also included other activities of the project such as workshops to promote the website at meetings of scientific professional societies. 13 In 1999, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) opened sciLINKS, a website that provides teachers, students, and parents with digital resources that supplement a number of major science textbooks being used in K-12 classrooms today. SciLINKS offers websites to extend and expand students' understanding of science, breaking science news to add context to classroom learning, science activities, and experts to answer questions. According to the announcement of this new website, “NSTA places sciLINKS icons and codes in textbook margins at key subject areas. By accessing the sciLINKS web site and entering the code, students and teachers are guided to professionally selected web sites that support the particular science subject introduced in the text.” 14 A proxy server stores documents or data that are frequently accessed by a defined group of users. The proxy server automatically requests information from the original source only when that source has been updated or has expired. This process reduces network traffic and gives the proxy server's users access to fresh content without waiting. Documents or entire sites can be preloaded into the proxy server. Whole sites can be downloaded during low-traffic periods, for example, so they're available to users when needed. (Modified from a description provided by Netscape's Netcenter: <http://home.netscape.com/proxy/v3.5/index.html>
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop can refresh the information in every school in the United States. This country has 48 million students and 3 million teachers. Those are the numbers I want to reach.” Masullo also pointed out that because technological advances are occurring increasingly rapidly, it is important to look beyond current models for producing and delivering content and other resources. Although current thinking for delivery of goods and services from a NL is primarily via the World Wide Web, some new dissemination vehicle may evolve and eclipse current uses of the Internet. Masullo emphasized that people need to dream about how information technology might transform teaching and learning and allow technology to develop in parallel to those visions. What the Pre-College Community Needs Despite the valuable resources available through existing websites, workshop participants expressed that the pre-college community needs additional capabilities from a digital national library. First, this community needs to know what information, resources, and tools are available. Even some of the technologically savvy educators at the workshop did not know about some of the websites examined during the workshop. According to the NRC's Jan Tuomi, the conventional wisdom in industry is that advertising a website takes several times as much money as is needed to build and maintain the site. A given website would need to achieve a critical mass of users and publicity before educators could be assumed to know about it. One possible way of publicizing resources, according to Jenkins, would be through the use of a new URL instead of .org or .com—perhaps .learn or .k12. “Or .fun,” suggested Moses. The design of an electronic resource that meets the needs of the pre-college community also needs to reflect the constraints on teachers ' lives and professional practice. “Teachers don't have the time [to explore all of the available resources],” said Donna Davis of the District of Columbia's Public School System. “If they are in a class with kids all day, they don't have the energy to spend three or four hours at night doing web searches. The web is overwhelming because there's so much, and it 's not [currently] in any form that is usable. [We need] order out of chaos.”15 According to mathematics professor Vernon Kays, “We need to come into a site and key in a topic, age, any number of issues, and get the five or six things that are appropriate to that. ” The NSF's Katylee Hoover added, “If teachers are going to use it—pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, primary school teachers —it is going to have to be simple and quick. When I teach a lesson, I want to know the [students'] prior knowledge first. Who knows about this? What do they know? Then, if a teacher already knows about that concept, she should be able to go to the level that she needs quickly. ” 15 For additional consideration of this issue, see discussion under “Quality and Comprehensiveness, “ beginning on page 12.
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop Teachers also need incentives to place materials into a national digital library. Perhaps teachers who receive federal grants to develop curricular materials and other resources could be required to do so. More broadly, ways have to be found to involve significant parts of the pre-college science and mathematics communities. “If we want a national resource, we'd better get every teacher and administrator involved,” said Masullo. “If you don't give them ownership, they won't share that kind of enthusiasm.” Another element of an effective digital national library is what workshop participants referred to as ‘stability.' “Say I'm a teacher,” said Wattenberg, “and I spend a lot of time developing some classroom material that uses all these resources. Then, when I come back the next year, all the links are broken and the programs no longer work because I upgraded to Windows 2002. That's a lot of wasted effort. So I need stability.” Stability is related to another issue—that of overseers of a digital library deciding how long to maintain a link or a resource in an electronic database. Should resources automatically be replaced after a certain number of years? And who would make that decision? Sites also change their rules for access. For example, websites that were once free may begin charging for access as they become more popular. Teachers who depended on those websites for key information may no longer be able to obtain the resources they need. The organization of knowledge is also an issue. Many teachers want a national digital library to allow learners to achieve multidisciplinary perspectives on problems. Workshop participants indicated that the developers of a digital national library for science, mathematics, engineering, and technology need to concentrate on these disciplines. But the organization of knowledge also should reflect the structure used in other disciplines and at other grade levels so that resources can be combined. Specific Issues Beyond the general needs of the pre-college community, several issues attracted particular attention from workshop participants. Quality and Comprehensiveness Any collection of materials must draw a balance between the competing demands of comprehensiveness and selectivity. Furthermore, the developers and users of any such collection often have different preferences. Some want to include any document or other resource that might be useful. Others want to have available only the best things selected by someone else. The same considerations would apply in a digital national library. Some teachers want as many resources as possible and prefer to make their own decisions about which ones to use. Others want decisions about quality and usability (e.g., for the grade level they teach) to be made before they access a resource. “The feedback that I have received from teachers is that they are tired of mediocre resources and want materials that have worked for others, and therefore
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop will work for them in the classroom,” said Julie Ghent-Paolucci of Montgomery County Public Schools. A digital library is particularly susceptible to the dilution of quality resources. “The difference between a digital library and a ‘traditional' library is that in the traditional library all the junk that people publish doesn't make it to the library,” said James Stith of the American Institute of Physics. “In the electronic world, all I need is to type it in and hit send, and it's out there and people can find it…Is the function of the digital library to separate all the stuff that is published from all the stuff that gets in the library?” A possible compromise is to offer a comprehensive range of materials but to include reviews and recommendations with those resources. For example, one role of professional societies and organizations that represent teachers generally (e.g., National Science Teachers Association, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) or in specific disciplines (e.g., Association of Biology Teachers, American Chemical Society, American Association of Physics Teachers), might be to provide quality checks, just as many do today with printed materials (for an example of how scientific societies might become involved with such quality checks, see the reference to NSTA's new sciLINKS website in footnote 13 on page 10). Or, materials could be categorized and described by their developers, although the motives of the reviewer would have to be considered. “Are they going to describe things in terms that are descriptive or in terms that are advertising?” asked Stubbs. Materials also could be categorized according to the amount of review they have received. For example, materials that have been peer reviewed could be in one part of the library, with non-peer-reviewed material in another section. Perhaps another section could include material that has been reviewed by users who have improved upon that material. The obvious drawback of such a scheme is that reviewing inevitably takes time, whereas materials placed directly on the Internet can appear immediately. Decisions about what is placed into the DL ultimately would be the responsibility of the board of overseers for this resource (also see the Executive Summary from report of the first digital library conference, Appendix A, page 25). Finally, it is unrealistic to expect that everything will be available somewhere on the web. “You're not going to find everything that you need out there [on the Internet],” said Roempler. Some material will need to be added by the community of users in response to recognized needs. This need for users to add to the content of a NL also raises the issue of how users can most easily gain access to the kinds of tools needed to produce lessons, software, and other products that would be amenable to the digital format of this kind of resource. Would such tools be available through the NL itself? Would contributors be expected to develop products using only certain software authoring tools? Would technical assistance be available to people who wish to develop such tools or products? Who would be responsible for reviewing such products before the NL accepts them for dissemination? In addition, the hypertext/hyperlink architecture of the World Wide Web is very different in structure from the kinds of curricular materials that teachers have traditionally used for
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop teaching. Can new digital curricula be constructed that better match the needs and expectations of teachers and students? Or, will the digital revolution so permeate education that current notions of curriculum and other teaching and learning tools will yield to new paradigms? Articulation and Standards A national digital library could help address one important problem in education today—the lack of articulation between different parts of the educational system. The Advanced Placement classes offered in high schools are a case in point, according to Lee Jenkins. Classes for non-science majors in college are another example where articulation between high school and higher education needs improvement. The same kinds of experiences that will build interest in science and mathematics could be used with appropriate modification in both college and high school settings. Also, if students coming into college had a better idea of what was expected of them in science and mathematics, and if college faculty were more familiar about the level of science and mathematics taught in high schools, students who enter college would be more likely to succeed in their study of these disciplines. A digital national library could provide a mechanism for college faculty and teachers and administrators, especially in grades 9-12, to discuss such issues, with people from organizations like the College Board and the Educational Testing Service joining in. “We could think of a large number of topics where people who really need to talk with each other are not doing so,” said Labov. “We could make it [the digital national library] a forum for national and worldwide discussions of many of the things that we are not talking about in education.” Different communities could learn much from each other in this way. For example, the pre-college community is more accustomed to collaborative enterprises than is the higher education community. Could colleges and universities learn to work more collaboratively by having greater interactions with pre-college teachers? “I have spent my whole life in universities,” said Wattenberg. “There is no equivalent to teacher leaders in universities, at least none that I know. There may be some things that we can learn here for undergraduate education from [such models in grades] K through 12.” Another feature of a digital national library is that it could support the drive for educational standards. Virginia, for example, is providing links from its standards document on the web to sites that support those standards. Other states and professional organizations that are involved with standards have already made their documents available on the Internet16 or are likely to do so in the near future. This linkage between national and state standards and curriculum frameworks and educational resources could provide one approach to accountability. “As an administrator, you hold your teachers responsible for the syllabus and the curriculum and certain landmarks,” said Masullo. “By 16 E.g., National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 1995): 060;http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/enter2.cgi?ED.html>;Benchmarks for Science Literacy (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993): <http://project2061.aaas.org/tools/>; Mathematics Standards and the forthcoming Standards 2000 (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1988 and in preparation): < http://www.nctm.org>
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop linking standards to particular educational resources, administrators and the public could have more confidence that those standards were being achieved.” Teacher Education Modern information technology offers multiple avenues to teacher education. For example, teacher facilitators could be available electronically to interact with individual teachers or groups of teachers. The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse offers such a service focused specifically on teacher leaders within schools. The capabilities of the new technologies also may foster teacher education. For example, a national digital library could offer video clips of teachers delivering virtually any kind of lesson imaginable (e.g., such as those produced for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study). Teachers should be able “to click on something and watch a person teach that concept,” said Jenkins. “We have incredible talent in teaching. So many of the problems that we have in education, have been addressed or solved by someone. But, in too many cases, nobody else knows that a particular problem has been addressed someplace else.” Teacher education requires cultural and social changes as well as technological advances. For one thing, teacher education needs to become more coordinated. Today, professional development opportunities usually are disconnected, so that teacher education does not build on itself. The cultural assumptions surrounding teacher education also need to change. “We still have the old turn-of-the-century factory view —that of the teacher isolated in the classroom,” observed Kays. “Until we can get teachers who instead of teaching five or six or seven courses a day are only teaching four courses a day, or three courses a day, with time to collaborate, with time to go out and get this kind of information, very little will be done.” At this point, says Kays, the Internet “is a wonderful resource if you are willing to spend 12 or 14 hours a day dedicated to what you love to do.” However, even if a national digital library were available to pre-college teachers, it would have little effect on the education that students receive in schools if teachers do not know how to use it.17 The construction of such a library therefore highlights the importance of teacher education. Teachers need to know how to move from place to place within a library and gather information. If a particular hardware or software platform is needed to use a resource, they have to be able to accommodate those demands. “That's going to require training, ” said Labov, “and districts don't necessarily have the funds to do that.” 17 Two reports that were released several months after this workshop document the lack of training for both future (Moursund and Bielefeldt, 1999) and practicing teachers (CEO Forum on Education and Technology, 1999).
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop As in other professions, many current teachers are not comfortable with computer technologies and require much more than a list of directions to get started. As Roempler pointed out, “I've had people who don't even understand how a mouse works.” Some school districts are requiring that new teachers entering the system demonstrate competency in computer technologies. 18 Although more teachers are learning to use computers on their own, specific incentives offer one way to get teachers up to speed with a particular technology. Some programs offer teachers the continued use of a computer after completing a training session. In other cases, summer programs can get teachers started with computers. Requiring teachers to use computers also can get results. “Some teachers will resist and resist using e-mail until that's the only way they can get information,” Jenkins pointed out. “Maybe the bulletin doesn't appear on paper anymore—if teachers want it, they've got to open up their computer. Or teachers can 't turn in their attendance reports on a little slip anymore—they would have to turn on the computer and turn it in.” Once teachers do get started, they tend to increase their use of information technologies. “It's like anything else,” said Davis, “you use what you need. Once they become comfortable with email and other activities they will then begin to find uses for the technology in their classrooms.” According to Horn, “Teachers have to start someplace. If it's something that can grow and become helpful to one teacher, it eventually will become helpful to many teachers.” Participants acknowledged that education in the use of computers and electronic communications needs to span the entire career paths of teachers, from pre-service education to the continuing education of veteran teachers. In colleges and universities, schools of education as well as arts and science faculty need to consider how to better integrate computers into the education of future teachers. Alternative certification programs for teachers also need to incorporate computer training. Because of teacher shortages in many parts of the country, many people now are being hired into teaching without the formal background usually required of new teachers, yet both these teachers and their more senior colleagues may need to know how to use a national digital library. Funding and Control Workshop participants viewed the source of funding for a digital national library as a major uncertainty. “Accessing the volumes we 'd need for a good, intelligent, graphically rich environment takes a lot of money.” Masullo said. “Let me go farther than that. It requires a very large and steady infusion of dollars to sustain that kind of access.” One possibility is that a national digital library would be funded entirely from public sources. The danger of public funding is that project money could be discontinued after five to 18 For example, workshop participant Toby Horn pointed out that this requirement is now a part of the hiring record for teachers in the Fairfax County, VA school system.
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop ten years, leaving teachers without resources on which they may have come to depend. Support would therefore have to be ongoing, as, for example, is the case with government's support of the Smithsonian Institution. Workshop participants also discussed several business models that might provide continuing, stable funding for a digital national library. One model is to charge teachers or schools for use of the library, although teacher Ghent-Paolucci pointed out that teachers are unlikely to be willing to pay more than a modest amount for such services. Another would be to charge for connect time or use, as with current long-distance services. But such charges are not a customary way of providing public services such as library services in this country. Participants emphasized that even modest charges to individuals would discourage utilization and could further exacerbate inequities in access to such resources. Some participants suggested that a national digital library could very well establish its own model for continued support. “Nets can and frequently do encourage grassroots movements,” said Moses. “How? By allowing people to ‘end-run' around rigid institutions...Instead of looking through this little keyhole, people now have a whole new view of the world. ” The economics of digital services also will change as today's bandwidth limitations to schools, businesses, and homes ease. Already, some schools offer their teachers free Internet access at home to make it easier to use digital services. If bandwidth increases without concomitant increases in charges, such access will be even easier to provide. The issue of incentives for teachers to use and contribute to the library is an important one, according to several participants. For example, one way to encourage teachers to use a digital national library would be to link it to the credentialing process. “Right now the only ways to be able to improve your position that school districts recognize are: go through a university system and get credit, go to a conference, or publish a book or paper” said Horn. “If contributions to a digital national library were recognized and rewarded as professional accomplishments, teachers would have much greater involvement with the system.” Related to the issue of funding are a number of questions surrounding control over the contents and operations of a digital national library that were also raised at the 1997 NRC workshop. Would a library be governed by the government or by a board of directors? Or would control be distributed, as is the case with the Internet today? Who would dictate the system standards to guarantee interoperability? And who would make decisions concerning what the library would contain or how materials are reviewed and cataloged? VISIONS OF THE FUTURE To summarize their deliberations, workshop participants devised the following objective for a national digital library that could be used by the pre-college community: Such a system should provide comprehensive resources for quality teaching and learning in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. The participants also encapsulated their thinking
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop about what would contribute to such a resource (Figure 1, page 19). Among the considerations that should guide the design and content of the library are the following: Connections to classroom practice and classroom settings — Information technology should be designed to facilitate teaching and learning by taking into account current and future physical settings in schools and developing curricula (e.g., those based on national and state standards). Evidence of what works in improving science, mathematics, and technology education for the pre-college grades — Continual assessment of whether the materials, tools, and other resources available to various communities of users are actually improving student learning. Connections to professional development—Materials and other resources that enable teachers to expand their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of science, mathematics, and technology both for personal learning and for expanding their ability to teach these subjects effectively. Connections to educational standards and real world applications—Resources that enable teachers and students to explore the latest applications and implications of science, mathematics, and technology and to locate information about employing national and state standards of teaching and learning to their classrooms. Articulation among educational levels (such as between the content of AP courses and first-year college and university classes)—Resources that could be used by both high school and college faculty to make the transition between the pre-college and undergraduate years more seamless. Ties to student interests—Easy access to information that can be individualized to the interests and talents of different students while illustrating fundamental concepts in science, mathematics, or technology. Illustrations of best practice—Text, audio, video, and software tools that can demonstrate to new teachers and provide insight to practicing teachers about alternative ways to present information, concepts, and skills to students in a variety of learning settings and situations. Despite the many questions that continue to surround a digital national library, workshop participants were extremely optimistic when asked to envision what might be expected in the foreseeable future. Lessons could be clearly tied to standards while still being able to meet the needs of different groups of students. Information would be connected across disciplines, allowing teachers and students to range further across the curriculum. Resources would be embedded within the research base on teaching and learning, so that students and teachers could take advantage of current best practices that are informed by scholarly research on improving education. Teachers and faculty could communicate easily and quickly about issues of teaching and learning. Communities of teachers would form during pre-service education and remain intact throughout teachers' careers. Assessments would be available to measure students' increased
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Serving the Needs of Pre-College Science and Mathematics Education:: Impact of a Digital National Library on Teacher Education and Practice. Proceedings from a National Research Council Workshop interest and capabilities in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology as well as teachers' increased ability to produce those improvements. Figure 1: The primary objective of a digital national library for the K-12 community (to the right of arrow) and examples of the kinds of information, materials and tools that might be placed into this resource to reach the objective. The challenge facing a national digital library is immense, said Wattenberg. It is no less than, first, to improve the quality of education and, second, to ensure that the highest quality education reaches every student. Yet the potential of a digital national library to fundamentally change the ways that science, mathematics, and technology are taught in the nation's schools and postsecondary institutions is sufficiently great to meet that challenge. Workshop participants look forward to seeing this vision of a digital national library that provides resources, materials, and connections among the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology communities realized as quickly as possible.