DLESE Teaching Boxes and Web Services: A learning context for using data in the classroom

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Tuesday, 31 January 2006: 3:30 PM
DLESE Teaching Boxes and Web Services: A learning context for using data in the classroom
A402 (Georgia World Congress Center)
Lynne K. Davis, UCAR, Boulder, CO; and J. Weatherley


This session will discuss the DLESE Teaching Box concept, explain the pilot program, and describe how DLESE Teaching Boxes and other science education web sites can enhance the use of data in the classroom by leveraging the free web services offered by the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE). 

DLESE is a free, NSF-supported, online library (www.dlese.org) providing a flexible way to search more than 10,000 web resources for teaching and learning about the Earth as a system. Providing a classroom environment for students to discover and connect important science concepts takes careful preparation. It takes teaching experience and scientific guidance. It takes having ready access to relevant, online teaching and learning resources and support services such as those DLESE offers, and it takes time when time is scarce. It was this need that inspired the DLESE Teaching Boxes.

A teaching box is a metaphor for a ready-to-use, online assembly of elements that foster learning: interrelated, level-appropriate scientifically sound concepts; online educational resources hand-selected to encourage discovery and learning; and cohesive narration that helps teachers bridge the gap between discrete resources and broader understanding by students.

 Within a DLESE Teaching Box, an instructor or student can pick a topic and see the concepts that build an understanding of that topic, explore online resources that support teaching and learning those concepts, and benefit from the narration (the glue) that weaves concepts, activities, and background information together into a complete teaching/learning story.


DLESE and Teaching Boxes

At DLESE, a visitor can begin a search for educational resources by entering nothing more than a keyword. But visitors can also select specific options to narrow the search to find, for example, remote data and/or a classroom activity appropriate for a middle school student researching a weather project.

Through its Web Service and Javascript-based searching, DLESE has made it a simple matter of “copy and paste” to add a bit of code to anyone's web page to let visitors begin a customized search of DLESE and see the results on their page. Using the DLESE Web and JavaScript-based Search in a Teaching Box means that the most relevant search criteria can be pre-set to search specifically for teacher background materials and classroom activities that are well-suited to, for example, a specific grade range.

In this session, we will demonstrate two new prototype Teaching Boxes: Ocean Upwelling and Sea Level Change, both of which are taught from an Earth system perspective.

 We will show how Teaching Boxes—using technologies like web services— can incorporate dynamic information such as current weather as it relates to climate, other Earth events, emerging research, and real-time data into one learning environment.

The following services will be described and demonstrated in the context of Teaching Boxes and in other learning contexts:

DLESE Web Services provide a programmatic interface that allows the Teaching Box (or any web page) to have the same DLESE search, bookmarking features, and data management that are found at the DLESE web site.

DLESE Smart Links are hyperlinks that can be created by anyone and implemented as easily as defining a specific search query. Clicking a Smart Link displays a list of resources that corresponds to the specific query. We'll show examples of how this service can help to bridge the gap between vocabularies and disciplines and the interesting possibilities it presents for contextualizing searches and building custom topical menus.

The Really Simple Syndication (RSS) service delivers online information immediately, and allows end-users to subscribe to receive regular news, events, and data on a given Teaching Box topic. This opens the door to event-based learning.

Strand Maps, developed by the AAAS, are diagrams of interconnected learning concepts across a range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The University of Colorado and its project partners are developing the Strand Map Service (SMS) to provide an interactive interface to interrelated learning goals, content knowledge (including student misconceptions), and educational resources in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and DLESE.

SciNews Online is a prototype online environment for guiding students in doing scientific research. It delivers current news articles and scientific publications chronicling recent Earth events and gives access to digital libraries like the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and DLESE for quality resources.

Further, the web services that are built into the library to enable access to classroom resources for the Teaching Boxes are also available for use within any web site wishing to leverage the resources in DLESE for custom contexts. We will show examples in which DLESE Web Services are being used to support learning in other contexts.

One such example is the Florida COSEE (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence) that has included a search page on their site designed with their particular audience in mind. People who come to their site have a special interest in the oceans and marine science around Florida. We will illustrate a user's search for educational resources about, for example, Ekman Transport for high school students. The search parameters are made available via the DLESE search service and are enabled or not by the COSEE web page developer.

When the user clicks “Search” a request is sent from COSEE to the search services at www.dlese.org where the query is processed and the results are returned to the COSEE page where they are displayed.

This conference session will be a time for mutual exploration of possibilities using teaching boxes and web services to facilitate the use of data in the classroom. Please join us.

Participants in the pilot:

-   Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE)

-   University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

-   University of California, Berkeley Museum of Paleontology

-   San Francisco State University

-   US Geological Survey

-   Teams of teachers who teach Earth Science from San Francisco area middle and high schools