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Colloquium - Sumner

Designing Libraries for Learning
Department of Computer Science
10/7/2004
3:30pm-4:30pm

Over the past decade, there have been a series of national reports documenting problems and challenges facing science education across the nation, ranging from lack of student interest in science and science careers, teachers' lack of scientific content knowledge, to lack of engaging, inquiry-oriented materials. One response to these problems is the emergence of a national digital library agenda, largely funded by the National Science Foundation, concerned with designing distributed library networks to support science, engineering, technology, and mathematics education, in formal and informal settings, at all educational levels. Within this arena, my research has focused on two strands:

  1. Understanding how teachers and learners comprehend and make use of digital resources and considering how library tools and interfaces can scaffold these sense-making interactions; i.e., "digital libraries as cognitive tools"

  2. Considering how such tools and interfaces can be architected and made available for use by library developers throughout library networks; i.e., "digital libraries as platforms for application development and innovation"

This research is being conducted in the context of the two largest national science education digital library networks: the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE). In this talk, I describe the current state-of-the-art in digital libraries for science education and discuss progress made over the last few years. The core of this talk focuses on the NSDL Strand Map Service, which illustrates the dual notions of digital libraries as cognitive tools and digital libraries as platforms for innovation. The Service provides interactive concept browsing interfaces that help K-12 teachers and learners to locate resources that support nationally recognized learning goals, and help users to explore the relationships between learning goals. These concept-browsing interfaces are dynamically generated based on rich models of the Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the Strand Maps developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Digital library developers can use a programmatic web service protocol provided by the NSDL Strand Map Service to embed concept-browsing interfaces into their own library environments. I will also reflect on the university-library partnership that we have established with DLESE and NSDL and discuss the opportunities for enhancing student research made possible by these partnerships.

Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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