WISE: The Web-based Inquiry Science Environment

Run by the University of California, Berkeley Supported by the NSF, it is a free online science learning environment

Students work on modules that are inquiry-based dealing with such topics as global warming, population genetics, alternative energy vehicles, and recycling.

Using the WISE system, students engage in learning about and responding to contemporary scientific issues by designing, debating, and critiquing solutions.

Working on a computer using a web browser, WISE software guides students through evidence and information pages that provide content, “notes”, “hints” and discussion tools. Students are encouraged to utilize these tools to reflect and collaborate, and use other tools that enable students to visualize data, develop causal models, simulations, and assessments.

Role of the Students Students work in pairs as they interact and collaborate on WISE modules. They are encouraged to share their ideas via this collaboration which WISE modules facilitate, leading to a greater depth of interactions among students and between teachers and students. This format allows students the opportunity for self-expression as they share ideas and it encourages constructive social interactions.

Role of the Teachers The interactive roles of the teachers are an essential part of the WISE modules. The teacher is free to walk among the groups, assessing their progress and discussing their ideas. The teacher will also facilitate whole-class discussions to address any findings, questions, and issues that need to be addressed. The teacher integrates the WISE modules over the course of a week into the existing science curriculum.

Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS) Another NSF funded program, TELS uses the WISE platform to create science curriculum modules that meet local and national science standards at both the middle and high school levels.

WISE Elements: A Process of Inquiry Students are supported in their inquiry of current science issues using the TELS modules and work on designing solutions to scientific problems. The unique and exciting TELS modules were jointly developed by WISE and TELS using online software and curriculum materials that they developed. TELS modules utilize web resources currently available as well as the data visualization and modeling tools developed by TELS partners. These resources support students as they engage in inquiry processes which include reflective notes and online discussions with others in their class.

WISE/TELS modules are divided into Activities and Steps. The Inquiry Map scaffolds students’ learning and guides their understanding. To help focus the students’ inquiry and uncover connections, the modules use “Hints.”

Another tool available to students is “Notes.” Notes allow students to reflect on their learning, integrate their ideas, and form predictions based on this integration.

Interactive Visualizations and Simulations in TELS TELS projects engage students in scientific inquiry through challenging collaborative activities that emphasize visualization, simulation, and investigations. Using simulations and visualizations that were designed and developed by the Concord Consortium and other TELS partners, students work is guided so that they learn to use scientific inquiry to investigate complex topics in science, by TELS interactive software and simulations.

WISE does not require the installation of any new software on school computers or servers. There has been a continued expansion of inquiry projects that are available to teachers, increasing the range of topics and student age groups.

From: John D. Slotta, The Web-based Inquiry Science. Internet environments for science education. Marcia C. Linn, and Elizabeth A. Davis and Philip Bell

WISE investigates: a. Effective designs for inquiry activities and assessments b. Technology supports for students and teachers c. Authoring partnerships to create a library of inquiry projects d. Professional Development programs to enable a wide audience of teachers to succeed with inquiry and technology

WISE is an internet-based platform for HS and MS science activities, Students work collaboratively on inquiry projects, using “evidence” from the Web. Projects are from 2 days to 4 weeks in duration Teachers in grades 4-14 Internet is fundamental to WISE and all projects make use of some content from the Web. Software tools include an inquiry map, note-taking and data-analysis tools, and electronic discussions. Each project includes a lesson plan, pre-assessments, links to National science standards, description of learning goals, ideas that students will likely bring to the project. Central project servers all student and teacher accounts to be coordinated Technology for the teachers include classroom management tools, grading environment, and capability to make comments for students Technology-based learning environments such as WISE encourage cohesive integrated science learning for students by providing models and explanations with varied representations, supporting peer-interactions, modeling inquiry with navigation systems, and prompting predictions and explanations (Linn and Slotta, 2000).

All WISE curriculum and assessments are authored collaboratively using Web-based authoring tools which are an integral part of WISE. Members of this collaborative include scientists, teachers, educational researchers, and technology specialists.

Authors create lesson plans and other resources to help teachers integrate WISE activities into their existing classroom practices.

WISE partners with NASA, NOAA, The National Geographic Society, professional organizations, like the American Physiology Society, and museums.

WISE has a global audience of teachers and students WISE provides innovative user supports and professional development programs to help teachers adopt WISE successfully

WISE is based on the scaffolded knowledge integration framework (SKI)

Teachers work closely with students as they work in pairs or small groups supporting autonomous investigations

Biggest challenge is that teachers must make for the inquiry project to fit well within his or her existing course

The theoretical basis for WISE is SKI or Scaffolded Knowledge Integration. Based on this framework, learners are seen adding ideas to their collection of models and reorganizing their knowledge. Through instruction, experience, and reflection, students and teachers are able to sort out their ideas (Williams et al 2004). The SKI framework is grounded in four philosophies: making thinking visible to students; making science accessible for students; providing social supports to students; and promoting autonomy for lifelong science learning (Williams et al 2004). WISE helps students connect scientific concepts to preexisting knowledge as well as build on their initial understandings.

Williams, Linn, Ammon, and Gearhart (2004) focus was on teachers making students’ scientific thinking visible by eliciting their science ideas and by encouraging them to expressly connect new and prior ideas and to use tech supports such as those represented through graphs, models, and illustrations.

The way teachers represent or formulate content knowledge to make it understandable to students and to promote student learning, was one component of pedagogical content knowledge that was particularly relevant to the study. Williams et al argue that teacher use multiple forms of pedagogical content knowledge to help students make their thinking visible. Such forms include personally relevant examples, investigations, hands-on experiments and metaphors.

Williams et al (2004) reported on the teachers’ challenges of understanding the discipline or content well enough to allow students to ask ill-defined questions, to use new representations of science content, new logistical practices such as managing small groups of students, and understanding the technical and network related issues. They looked at the teachers’ learning trajectory in order to make sense of new practices and suggest ways to design professional development programs.


Antibiotics: Will they work? See the project Lesson plan Learning Goals and Standards Run Project

This project integrated dialog boxes that prompted students to engage in discussion about the problem at that particular stage.

Embedded within the project were videos showing bacterial cells dividing. There were several open-ended questions “See the Project” contact information, appropriate grade level for project, applicable subjects; amount of class time project would take, brief description of the project, credits, and project history (when created and revised)

Vincent's First Post

Hey folks, Is KF down again? I couldn't get on yesterday, Tues or today, Wednesday. I'll put my thoughts here so we can keep the 'creative' feedback flowing.

First off, I thought this was a great article. His ideas (he is a he, isn't he?)about creativity functioning as a system makes so much sense. Especially when he compares it to evolution. The creative act or product has to possess the element of "fitness." The variation needs to match it's environment in order for it to survive. This process of "natural selection" works both ways: it can be positive or negative. Good ideas/traits thrive and are passes along; bad ones die off. What he writes on page 315 supports this idea: "Creativity occurs when a person makes a change in a domain, a change that will be transmitted through time."

In continuing with the biological metaphor, the notion of memes as being the 'genes' of culture, allows one to see how a culture can assimilate a new feature (a creative product) in the same manner as a species can assimilate a new trait. The comparison is extended by consideration of the idea that just as different species have different genes/traits, different cultures have different memes or practices/norms.

I feel compelled to make mention of Figure 16.3, the systems view of creativity. The triangle structure resembles the idea of Hawkin's "I-Thou-It" triad. Depending on the perspective or position one is referring to or is taking in the triad, you could be either the I or the Thou. But, Hawkin's I-thou-it can readily be superimposed on the creativity system with the "I" obviously being the Personal Background, the "Thou" taking the position of society, leaving the culture and the "It" to be paired up.

The "take-away" message from this reading is that the hypothesis of creativity existing as a system deserves a lot of attention. I, for one, am willing to whole-heartedly accept it as the correct theory. The systems model includes the three criteria for creativity: fluency, divergent thinking and uniqueness. On page 314, Csikszentmihalyi writes that "If creativity is to retain a useful meaning, it but refer to a process that results in a idea or product that is recognized and adopted by others." This relates to another property of creativity, its significance and acceptance by society.