Remote Exploratoriums: Combining Network Media and Design Environments

James Ambach, Corrina Perrone, Alexander Repenning
Center for LifeLong Learning and Design, Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder. {ambach, corrina, ralex} Phone: (303) 492-1503 Fax: (303) 492-2844


In an educational context, World Wide Web clients such as NCSA Mosaic® are of limited value because they put learners in the role of information absorbers. Drawing on a museum analogy, learners using Mosaic can be perceived, similar to museum visitors, as passive observers of exhibits. Despite the richness of exhibits in terms of the amount of information as well as the use of multimedia, activity is restricted to navigation through real (museum) or hyper (Mosaic) spaces. More effective learning would include constructive activities that are more engaging than just browsing information spaces. Distance education could be improved by augmenting network media with design environments to create remote exploratoriums that encourage highly interactive, engaged learning experiences. In contrast to classical museums, exploratoriums, such as the one in San Francisco and several children's museums, feature hands-on learning exhibits that are not only observed but can be actively manipulated. The Agentsheets Remote Exploratorium is a mechanism to facilitate the easy exchange and distribution of interactive educational exhibits through the Internet. Agentsheets is a programming substrate to create design environments. In this paper, we discuss the implications of combining a network medium and a design environment in order to support distance education.