Stanford: K-12 Internet Resource Center
This is the text of a talk given April 19, 2001 at Stanford University by Dr. Bonnie Tenenbaum, the K12IRC Librarian.
Lobby Page -- (follow along with these "slides")
Work In Progress
Goal of this Site
Create a tool to stimulate professional development which could be intertwined with school reform via new technologies.
The K-12 Internet Resource Center is designed as an immersive, systemic environment from the perspective of a classroom teacher: it focuses on interactive telecommunications activities within and among schools; stakeholder involvement, such as parents and businesses; and collaboration with affinity and professional networks for research and curriculum development online.
This resource site was launched as an outcome of participation in an NSF testbed project with TERC. In the mid-90's TERC had been advised by NSF to partner with a cutting edge Web company; it lit on my husband's group. I had been searching for a partner, meanwhile, to foster the exchange of ideas alongside the same channel as the commercial capabilities, in development at my husband's company.
Today, about 5 years later, we would like to engage the SUSE in a partnership along 2 dimensions. First, the actual content could serve as a portal for SUSE's site; most ed school site's contain institutional information rather than knowledge about education. Secondly, via the administrative functionality at the site, educational research data from all over the globe can be collected easily. Altogether, Stanford would be distinguished by the best use of these new tools.
A key decision in the site's design was the selection of an authentic, graphical interface. Most educational resource sites are merely laundry lists, A to Z listings of favorites-links or Java applets. Some metaphorical site maps include roadmaps (NCREL), villages like Computertown, city spaces with the Right and Left Banks, or university facilities such as departments (Women in Technology), a conference center like TAPPEDIN at SRI or a Dewey system library like Soloway's IPL.
I chose the Instructional Media Center, because such an environment is often the first REAL WORLD stop for teachers undertaking innovative projects. The site supports familiar resources and work practices and, then, extends them with new telecommunication capacities, like a workroom or links to external devices like PDA's.
The seed collection focuses broadly on Environmental Studies. Over 1500 annotated entries propel visitors into the center of networked subjects on the Web. Since the initial funding resources have been expanded to other sciences and liberal arts. These samplings were assembled to reflect many regions in the U.S., varied dimensions of telecommunications and integrated subject topics for a wide range in student age, interests and capability. A few valuable off-line resources are mentioned, too.
Administrative Area -- (special access required)
Underneath the resource bank, if you will, lay an administrative infra-structure which allows the site manager and contributors to modify its contents, track usage statistics, send targeted messages and customized assistance and organize discussions.
Now, let's take a quick tour of this IMC -- that is the best demonstration of the site's distinguishing features.
Visitors start at the Librarian's Desk. Here is a Bulletin Board: its headlines are changed regularly; notice that national news is placed alongside technology developments, typically unique to the online world. At the Information Sign are catalogue-like content listings. Web tools contains policy guidelines (copyright, for instance), research resources for librarian/media specialists, software ideas for Web site management, online tutorials -- enabling tools for teachers to design and customize their own sites. The Plan Book provides samples of curriculum and assessment frameworks for telecommunications activities.
This Area Map illustrates the junctions of systemic levels for school reform. In the Classroom are content-rich Treasures, such as project investigations, online collaborations, and virtual field trips around the world, Student Stuff -- reference works, notebook links like CSILE, and magazines for online publishing, and Multi-Media Authoring software-writing, music, graphics. An aside about that; for the first time students with certain creative bents like graphics are finding a home in school.
Just like a real IMC, professional development resources, such as subject matter listservs, tips for school reform, sources of funding, a Conference Center and sketch of a Work Room for online, remote collaboration are depicted.
Finally, in the Community Center are resources for school boards, case studies of school-community telecommunications networks, ideas for school-home partnering, and specialized career development networks.
Now, I want to take another cut at the site's resources -- its capacity to help teachers pursue reform----- both inside out and outside in! We look at five streams of professional development, proposed by Judith Warren Little in 1993.
1. Curriculum and Pedagogy.
We identified two objectives in harnessing the Web for reform in curriculum and pedagogy. First, I culled curricular exemplars by which the Web can enhance academic content and thinking. The GLOBE project probably epitomizes a few key contributions: student collaboration in science investigations on a global scale; in-gathering primary source data and direct observation of natural phenomena via virtual field trips and Webcams, here-to-fore not accessible to students, on an up-to-the-minute basis; some reliance on visualization and, in some cases, simulation or virtual modeling; and, publication of findings in a media which the whole world can view. The theory is that since students are exploring population rather than sampling statistics, so to speak, and rich primary sources, new and authentic insights into global environmental issues will be forged .
Some other examples: Younger students can study nanoworlds via tapping into electron microscopes at distant universities, while advanced students can participate in studies of dynamical systems. The TAPESTRY projects, sponsored by Toyota and the NSTA and developed by classroom teachers, reveal an ingenious array of hands-on and hypothetical investigations.
The Library of Congress has digitized some rare primary sources for American history research projects. Thanks to telecommunications, students can visit war-torn Bosnia or share literary critiques in the virtual world. One teacher in South Africa has set up an online exchange between her students and schools in Malaysia to discuss Nadine Gordimer's work.
The second objective in this stream is to absorb or infuse each key element--- research data, collaboration, modeling,-- into every curriculum project so its use becomes routine. Probably less than 20% of the models and lessons on the Web will alter our knowledge or the way we think in SPECIFIC ways. Ideally, we want these tools to be viewed as mundane just like computers or Palm pilots so the focus will remain fixed on the EMPOWERING capacity of the Web for professional development, not the glitz.
This site helps promote equity, again, along several dimensions. Educators and policy-makers usually focus on the importance of affordable costs and universal access. Plenty of funds are available now for plugging the so-called digital divide among schools, but such a gap is still wide in out-of-school environments, especially at home, as we know here in Silly Valley.
For the first time, however, de facto segregation in access to knowledge can be substantially reduced. Any teacher and student can visit museums, conduct research at university libraries or participate in, say, the human genome project, take classes at distant colleges or virtual high schools, join space, undersea and other farflung expeditions, find a mentor, and so on. Thus, learning communities can regulate and adapt their own environments easily, a capacity systems analysts regard as critical to any reforming effort.
Placed in every space in this IMC are resources to facilitate the special needs of diverse groups, such as the physically disabled, ESL, young women seeking careers in science, graphically talented. Such links are notably absent from most other educational databases with the exception of the DOE collection.
And another aside, thousands of JAVA applets are available for students who need visual, moving and manipulative learning environments. While fabulous resources are available on CD's like "How Things Work", certain principles in the physical sciences, for instance, might become more strongly embedded in long-term memory via JAVA applets than current methods. Interesting research tasks.
3.Nature, Extent and Uses of Standards and Assessment
The commitment of many teachers to integrating traditional and alternative assessment often exceeds the power of the tools, available to them -- not a good portent for reform. The Plan Book and Student Stuff spaces rectify that problem some; they contain subject matter benchmarks and recommended software for preparing project portfolios. Four resources merit special mention:
(1) SciLinks from NSTA, as it implies, connects standards and text/supplementary resources, and PALS at SRI generates complementary performance assessment tasks;
(2) Online, self-assessing student notebooks like KIE and CSILE may prove very valuable for both individualizing and promoting collaborative knowledge understanding;
(3) The full text of Noreen Webb's classic paper on small group assessment has been included on this site. The trend is towards 1 computer/student but most classrooms still rely on 1 computer for 4 students, say. Few teachers are really experienced with small group evaluation. I have visited some MMAP classrooms and the lack of teachers, adept at facilitating group tasks in the incredibly diverse classrooms in California, for instance, is sadly apparent.
(4) Guidelines are provided for transferring student work from offline to online and vice versa. Moving comfortably between the real and the online world is a hallmark of now and the future.
4.Professionalization of Teaching
Most K-12 professional development opportunities have been conducted outside the teacher's workplace -- away from the classroom and school -- until now. Time and funding constraints, also, have limited participation and dampened any sense of urgency.
Direct links to professional networks and many varieties of experts and online, individually paced tutorials, have been assembled in the Professional Development Room. Digests of successful results-driven strategies for school reform have been provided. Using "follow me" software, collegial interaction can be facilitated. Like other professionals, teachers need opportunities to publish; the Web provides this outlet close at hand.
Because this new technology offers both real-time and asynchronous collaboration around the world and both text and audio-video media, the role of teachers as researchers, long advocated here at Stanford, can easily be realized.
5. Organization of Schooling
The School-Home-Community rooms points to case studies of successful shared networks and initiatives for building learning communities. For about a year the Website for the Charlotte-Mecklenberg area in North Carolina focused on Haley's comet-history and current observations. Wouldn't it be exciting if a whole town joined in a virtual expedition around the canyons of Monterey Bay??
The potential impact of these partnerships is unbounded.
How do you think schooling might be changed in this "new" age?
Traditionally, professional development has been geared toward "outmuscling" the system-more money, more training, more technology. The real source of strength for effecting change via professional development, in my opinion, lay in applying pressure at critical points of control within systemic levels. We should view ourselves as the lighthouse in this fable, from the electronic frontier in Puget Sound.
Station #1: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.
Station #2: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Station #1: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Station #2: No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Station #1: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER ENTERPRISE. WE ARE A LARGE WARSHIP OF THE U.S. NAVY. DIVERT YOUR COURSE NOW!
Station #2: This is the Puget Sound Lighthouse. It's your call.
Some of the links in the talk point to pages in an earlier version of the web site that are no longer available.
They have been updated to equivalent pages where possible in the current version of the site.
Other Areas To Check Out...
• EdTech Leaders Online
• Ideas And Inspiration For The K-12 Community
• Marine Worlds
• National Academy of Science
• Ongoing Professional Development
• Patterns and Art
• Primary Source Document Collections
• Research Resources for Teachers and Librarians
• Support Networks
• TED and TEDx