Technology Integration  

Technology can provide many of the tools needed to form an authentic learning community of teachers and students. One task for this community is knowledge assembly, which according to Gilster (Pool, 1997, p. 10), "is an activist way of gathering and evaluating materials, integrating network materials with traditional materials and then creating a finished project." In creating a model, students gather and evaluate information about a system and put it together to simulate the system's behavior over time. Unlike other methods of knowledge assembly, a computer model can be executed. Model output can be compared to the physical system's output to validate the simulation, the mental model, and "theory" behind it. Certainly, the Internet is an important resource in gathering information for modeling projects. For the alcohol-tailgating project, students can find information about car braking rates and the factors that influence blood alcohol level through the Internet. In addition, network collaboration with experts and other classes enhances the project. Team developed interactive web pages that teach others about their system may be used in assessing what the students have learned.

The CoreModels classroom-centered paradigm stresses that teachers can effectively learn to integrate the Internet into their instructional practice by observing other teachers use it, by co-developing with peers activities using the network, and then by carrying out such activities. CoreModels teachers collaborate within specific science areas and across centers to co-develop modeling materials that meet course requirements, test those materials in their classrooms, and suggest revisions. Teachers learn most about an innovation by enacting it in the classroom (Marx, Freeman, Krajcik, & Blumenfeld, 1997).

CoreModels teachers have already used a mailing list to share observations on common activities and to send models back and forth. During the original MVHS project, leaders learned that developing a mailing list into a reflective community is a difficult, ongoing process. Although teachers prefer face-to-face interactions for substantive conversations, they appreciate email for its document-sharing and message capabilities.

Videotape is often overlooked as a tool for professional development. The CoreModels project used video to document classroom practice, student learning, and teacher conversations in professional development workshops. Others have found that reviewing videotapes has been a particularly effective way to help teachers see themselves acting out conflict between prior beliefs and the practices they were trying to adopt (Krajcik, et al., 1994; Ladewski, Krajcik, & Harvey, 1994; Marx, Freeman, et al., 1997).

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