Virtual Learning Experiences: Access to the NSDL for Middle School Youth


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This presentation was from the NSDL 2010 Annual Principal Investigator's Meeting, November 3, 2010 in Washington, DC and showcased SMARTR, the Middle School Portal 2 student site.

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  • EDC – educational research and development non-profit based just outside of boston, ma.
    Have had several NSDL projects….
    The last 3 of these have been youth-focused both in their process and products. Here to today to discuss our process for developing VLE for the MSP2 project
    In the last 2 NSDL projects and other non-NSDL projects we have worked closely with middle school aged youth in the creation of resources for them. This session will share some of our findings from our participatory design process as well as share some draft designs we are working on the MSP2 VLEs
  • Lit review – research related to project content/topic, on youth participation in TE and data collection with youth, and recent instruments for data collection and measurement with youth. Overall provides a context and framework for the planned work with youth, how best to engage them in both the content and design aspects of the project. Our work combines PD + LC-D + CI (a more recent paradigm for working with young learners to create new technologies)
    - Online surveys (what)
    Our largest source of data: types of websites youth are interested in, their preferences for internet use.
    - FGs (how/why)
    Offer a more detailed and nuanced exploration of how youth find educational information online as well as a greater explanation of visual and layout preferences for online information/websites.
    Youth co-design team: heart of this process, where project staff and youth work together for several months to craft a series of prototype designs
    While process is very youth-centric, each of these phases includes data collection and work with educators – just not the focus of this presentation (offering insight into online resources they most often use with youth, websites used in classroom, their perception of website features and content that engages their students, topics that would be most important to cover and why).
  • Online Survey
    440 middle school youth from across the nation
    617 middle school educators from across the nation
    Youth and Educator Focus Groups
    5 middle school youth from Boston, MA
    6 middle school educators (NSTA)
    Categories of Data
    Computer access and use
    Technology use and web design preferences
    Self-efficacy with technology
    STEM career perceptions
    Science/math topics
    Favorite websites
    Evaluating online information
  • In school – talk about how we chose the topics, that we surveyed youth and educators for topics that they find most challenging to teach and where they find the least STEM content online. Show them an MSP2 Resource Guide on a related topic (e.g., Plate Tectonics) and then go throu the Earthquake VLE and suggest how they could use both together with youth
    Out-of-school – can be used in afterschool settings to, in both STEM or non-STEM programs, as a supplemental set of activities
    Anytime/Anywhere – Do not need adult intervention to be used, can be used by youth and adults even in home settings. SMARTR site has a variety of ‘fun’ educational content for kids in addition to the VLEs.
  • Virtual Learning Experiences: Access to the NSDL for Middle School Youth

    1. 1. Virtual Learning Experiences: Access to the NSDL for Middle School Youth Kimberly Lucas Education Development Center, Inc. Kim Lightle Ohio State University
    2. 2. - Overview • Education Development Center, Inc. • NSDL Projects – Gender & Science Digital Library ( – Effective Access Research Project – The FunWorks ( – Middle School Portal 2: Math and Science Pathways ( • Youth Virtual Learning Experiences ( – NSDL Youth Resources Project
    3. 3. - MSP2: Virtual Learning Experiences • Part of the MSP2 Pathway Project (SMARTR) • SMARTR’s goals for youth: – Develop increased STEM content knowledge – Increase their ability to explore, discover, problem solve, think critically about STEM – Increase their awareness of the educational pathways that lead to STEM careers. – Increased awareness of new technological literacies and use technology in a productive and responsible manner.
    4. 4. - Youth-Centered Design Methodology
    5. 5. - Survey and Focus Group Analysis • Use online/resources in science class (vs. math class) —youth would like to see more technology incorporated into their classes • Most youth are online consumers and some are online producers, find value in both consuming content and creating it • Mastery of basic computer functions (report writing, Internet searches) • Approximately 25% of the sample used online social networking sites at least once a day
    6. 6. - Survey and Focus Group Analysis • Science topics of interest include life science and chemistry; math topics of interest include arithmetic & fractions • Identify trustworthy sites through adult recommendations, site URL stem, .org url • Prefer multiple methods of finding these things, dislike when too many/too few options are presented to them • Direct answers, limited text, videos, and interactivity • Dislike ads, not enough original information, childish look and feel
    7. 7. - Youth Co-Design Team
    8. 8. - Youth Co-Design Team
    9. 9. - End Product: SMARTR
    10. 10. - End Product: SMARTR
    11. 11. - End Product: SMARTR
    12. 12. - Contexts for Use • In school – Related to important science/math topics – For use with existing STEM curricular content or MSP2 Resource Guides • Out-of-school time – Supplement STEM activities in existing programs • Anytime/Anywhere learning – Can be used by youth on their own in any setting – Related activities on the site include – tech tools for kids, games, science news for kids RSS feed, etc.
    13. 13. - Thank you! Kimberly Lucas Education Development Center, Inc. 617.618.2745