Network Science, a Decade Later: The Internet and Classroom Learning

Network Science, a Decade Later: The Internet and Classroom Learning

Network Science, a Decade Later: The Internet and Classroom Learning

Network Science, a Decade Later: The Internet and Classroom Learning


Network Science, A Decade Later --the result of NSF-funded research that looked at the experiences of a set of science projects which use the Internet--offers an understanding of how the Internet can be used effectively by science teachers and students to support inquiry-based teaching and learning. The book emphasizes theoretical and critical perspectives and is intended to raise questions about the goals of education and the ways that technology helps reach those goals and ways that it cannot. The theoretical perspective of inquiry-based teaching and learning in which the book is grounded is consistent with the current discipline-based curriculum standards and frameworks.

The chapters in Part I, "State of the Art," describe the history and current practice of network science. Those in Part II, "Looking Deeply," extend the inquiry into network science by examining discourse and data in depth, using both empirical data and theoretical perspectives.

In Part III, "Looking Forward," the authors step back from the issues of network science to take a broader view, focusing on the question: How should the Internet be used--and not used--to support student learning? The book concludes with a reminder that technology will not replace teachers. Rather, the power of new technologies to give students both an overwhelming access to resources--experts, peers, teachers, texts, images, and data--and the opportunity to pursue questions of their own design, increases the need for highly skilled teachers and forward-looking administrators. This is a book for them, and for all educators, policymakers, students involved in science and technology education.

For more information about the authors, an archived discussions space, a few chapters that can be downloaded as PDF files, and ordering information, visit


Educators are developing a variety of ways to utilize the powerful capabilities of the Internet to improve science teaching and learning for elementary, middle, and high school students. One of the best known and earliest of these efforts is National Geographic Kids Network--a curriculum that was initially developed by TERC and the National Geographic Society in the late 1980s with funding from the National Science Foundation. Since then, many other efforts have emerged that are similar enough that we refer to them collectively as network science curricula. Although each network science curriculum has its distinctive features, they all make use of online communities and shared sets of data to support students learning science. Whether the topic is acid rain (NGS Kids Network), environmental science (Global Lab), or butterfly migrations (Journey North), network science curricula have sought to enhance student learning through telecommunications.

Two research projects are responsible for the work reported here. Testbed for Telecollaboration (active from 1994-1998) and its predecessor, Alice/Collaborative Inquiry Testbed (active from 1992-1994), were funded by the National Science Foundation to support and research the implementation of network science curricula. As testbeds, these projects were designed to mesh with the efforts of partner organizations and develop common models and test conjectures about uses of technology in science education. Both Testbed projects were located at TERC, an educational . . .

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