Technology Enhanced Learning

Carrie Heeter
Michigan State University
Department of Telecommunication


      2.4 Special collections/Online resources

      Digital libraries are a special kind of online resource. Millions of others exist, on all manner of topics, with widely varied depth and authority. These range from major institutions such as museums, NASA and other government agencies to sites run by individuals.

      Major institutions with an education outreach mission should implement live curators to help teachers and students use their site. They should co-develop, accumulate, and disseminate curriculum ideas and lesson plans and they could provide referrals to other resources when others better answer constituent questions. Participation in learning portals with other online resources of parallel authority and depth may help connect learners to learning experiences. Research should be conducted on how individual learners and classrooms use these online service.

      Digital Video Portals provide windows to the world. Again the same recommendations apply. With I2ās added bandwidth, it should be possible to create "I-Windows" ö flat screen displays posted like picture frames dedicated to a particular (selectable, changeable) digital video portal. One I-Window might be open to a watering hole in Africa. Another I-Window might be focused on a pond in a childrenās garden. The I-Windows could be open all the time, like a window. Automated capture tools allow time-lapse retrieval of still frames throughout a defined measurement period.

      In this way, a class could meet inside the textbook. Or at NASA headquarters. Situated learning takes on new meaning, and the pedagogical challenge is how to manage the richness of resources.

      Subject matter portals such as The Math Forum (http://forum/ are essential to informing teachers about online resources. The Math Forumās mission is to build an online community of teachers, students, researchers, parents, educators, and citizens with an interest in math and math education. They encourage communication throughout the mathematical community, make math-related web resources more accessible, provide high-quality math and math education content; offer model interactive projects, and "grow the web" by encouraging new sites.

      Portals typically provide a brief description and link to a site. Experts could develop metadata, commentary and annotations to sites in their domain of expertise, and serve as an information resource to schools; even about sites they did not create and are not associated with. Software tools such as Third Voice allow annotation of third party web sites to happen today ( but the tool is not well suited for expert commentary and K-12 learners. Common standards would make the time investment more worthwhile.

      The One Sky, Many Voices Project ( is an exemplary online resource specifically targeted to K-12 inquiry-based learning about current weather and air quality. More than 10,000 children from around the world have participated in Kids as Global Scientists, four-week and eight-week programs around environmental themes. Students, teachers, parents and scientists can participate from classrooms, homes, after-school programs or other educational settings.


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