A blueprint to inform educators, researchers and policymakers about the effective use of interpersonal, collaborative media in science education.
Most K-12 science education consists of teaching well-established facts, an approach that bears little or no resemblance to the question-centered, collaborative work of real scientists. With the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, along with a group of academic and corporate partners (for example, the Exploratorium, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Aldus Software, Ameritech, Apple Computer, Sony, and Sun Microsystems), Northwestern University is trying to change all of that with the CoVis (collaborative visualization) project.
In the first-ever educational use of wideband ISDN networks, Northwestern enables high schools students to join with peers at remote locations in collaborative work groups. Students can also communicate with university researchers and other scientists. They study atmospheric and environmental sciences through special projects, using state-of-the-art scientific visualization software, specially modified to their learning environment. These students actually have access to the same research tools and data sets used by cutting-edge scientists in the field.
The CoVis project provides students with a "collaboratory" workbench that includes desktop video teleconferencing; shared software environments for remote, real-time collaboration; access to the resources of Internet; a multimedia scientist's "notebook;" and scientific visualization software. The CoVis team also works with teachers in participating schools to develop new curricula and teaching approaches. CoVis is, in many ways, a blueprint to inform educators, researchers, and policymakers about the effective use of interpersonal, collaborative media in science education.
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School of Education and Social Policy
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