WISE and Plate Tectonics

Feb. 10th

Gobert, Snyder and Houghton (2002) studied the effects of “What`s on Your Plate?“ in WISE (Web-Based Inquiry Science Education). WISE is an inquiry-based framework that allows users to create and edit science lessons for technology-enhanced learning experiences (TELEs). It encourages content knowledge as well as process and inquiry skills. Information and communication technology outcomes are to be embedded throughout curricula. WISE use accomplishes this as well while covers many specific science learning outcomes. According to Linn (1999), the WISE creator at UC-Berkeley, WISE is based on four principles:

1. Make science accessible for all students
2. Make thinking visibale
3. Provide social support so that students learn from each other
4. Promote autonomy and lifelong learning

WISE was chosen as a platform as it enables students to build models as well as its attempt to make learning visible (so it can be measured). Students from the east and west coast were asked to draw and explain a model of plate tectonics on their computers in the WISE program and then share their work with a partner from the opposite coast. Upon completion of the assignment they were to reflect on the use of models and learning. They were then given the opportunity to revise their models and share again, explaining their modifications. In general the exercise improved student knowledge on plate tectonics as well as model construction. I don`t know that the authors could conclude that the use of this one model shows a “deep understanding of the nature of models“ but I believe their knowledge of them improved. To show a deep understanding there would have to be more evidence than an edited drawing. There are many possible projects that could come out of an assignment like this and poor quality web-based drawings are only one option. I would lean towards using physical models instead of web (Paint) drawings to show the students understanding of plate tectonics as movement is involved as well as multiple effects.

I agree with Diana who wrote,”many of us connect with WISE as a teaching tool because it is continually evolving.” Teachers do not want to recreate the wheel on every assignment-there just is not enough time to do so. If we can have a collaborative evolution with best pedagogy in mind the WISE lessons will be current for years to come. I like how Berkeley has upgraded to newer versions of the program, as occasionally the supporting structure needs replacement, not just a fancy paint job. New buttons and affordances were evident in the newer versions mentioned. I can see WISE being used as a social platform for students to share their creations as well as discuss the concepts. I believe if we can use existing technology to create thoughtful discussion our students would benefit greatly from our efforts. The struggle is between having the time to properly construct knowledge, through real experiences, versus passive learning of facts and concepts by direct instruction or reading. Generally, there never seems to be enough time.

Gobert, J., Snyder, J., & Houghton, C. (2002). The influence of students’ understanding of models on model-based reasoning. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New Orleans, Louisiana.

Linn, M. C. (1999). Designing the knowledge integration environment: The partnership inquiry process. Created for International Journal of Science Education.

Linn, M.C.,Clark, D., Slotta, J.D. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

WISE: As a Valuable Tool

Create Your Own Video Game

According to Linn, Clark and Slotta WISE creates a “technology-enhanced, research-based, flexibly adaptive learning environment…incorporating things like modeling tools and hand-held devices.“ WISE was created in response for the need of more technology-enhanced learning experiences in science. It teaches as students click through the short lessons on multiple science topics. The library is expanding as teachers add features, resources and lessons to it, which I see as one of its great features. It will evolve as long as it is used and supported by the designers who created it, as open-source projects do. It is driven through a knowledge integration perspective where the user learns concepts and facts as they are immersed in the lesson. WISE teaches through reading and models and then applying the knowledge through reflection and questioning. The goal of WISE is make learners inquire about their surroundings long after they graduate from school.

WISE lessons unfold through clicking through a set of web pages as you might look through a textbook, but the textbook is somewhat interactive. There are videos to watch (like the Jasper project), graphs to manipulate (not just read) and activities to complete throughout which are embedded into the site. The Jasper series used technology strictly as information. You were shown a problem then sent off to solve it. WISE teaches concepts and builds on them throughout the lesson steps.

I found WISE to be quite sequential, which is actually my preferred way of learning. The knowledge and concepts are very visual and somewhat interactive. It feeds the learner passively through clicking through the lessons. Some knowledge is gleaned but may be soon forgotten, similar to watching television or viewing a YouTube video. I see the value in it as a direct teaching tool. If a student was struggling with a specific concept they could look it up in WISE and try to get a better understanding from another perspective before moving forward. I would like to see what my students have accomplished in WISE as well as where they struggle. Trial and error will get them through many of the assignments, but may not be the  best way to learn the concepts. I think WISE is a useful tool for teaching but would not build a science unit around it as it presents information and offers opportunities for reflection but does not complete the constructivist model of learning.



Linn, M.C.,Clark, D., Slotta, J.D. 2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

The Jasper Series 2.0

The Jasper series was responding to the need for inquiry-based anchored instruction in math by using audio-visual technological advances to frame the problems for the students. The series encouraged student engagement and active learning. The design addresses the problem to a certain degree by creating problem-embedded videos. The issue that arose was that students needed to rewind or pause the videos to record information and facts. With only one laserdisc in the classroom it would make it difficult for students to rewind or pause when they need to. The the discussion threads it was evident that this problem could now be solved with YouTube and iPods.

The technology enhances collaboration through group problem solving. Once the necessary facts and figures are recorded from the Jasper videos the groups work on solving the multi-step problems. There is more than one way to solve some of the problems and group discussion can explore the various solutions.

Professional development for the teachers seemed to be a bit of an issue for the program as the teachers undertook a 2-week training session before implementing the program and then did not always find time to use the resource in their lessons. This created a gap in the scaffolding as some videos were skipped throughout the unit.

If I was to create a math or science adventure similar to the Jasper series I would use a current technology available to students such as YouTube and Web tools. The videos loaded on YouTube could frame the problems as well as give suggestions for searching background knowledge. Web tools could be used to compose a rational and create group discussion on the topic. The students would have to show the rationale for their answers as a web-based presentation, available to the rest of the class. It would be constructivist, problem-based technology embedded learning.



Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development. 40(1). 65-80.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992b). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program description and assessment data. Educational Psychologist. 27(3). 291-315.

The Jasper Project- Initial Views

The Jasper Project is based on problem-based learning. Short videos are presented which teach math and science concepts and then present a problem using the lesson. Specific skills are taught, exemplified, and then tested. Videos accompany the problems, creating a visual for the students to identify with. As a visual learner, I appreciate the videos that accompany the problems as well as the options for problems solving. People face these real-life problems on a daily basis. These videos attempt to answer the frequent student question of “When am I ever going to use this?”

I see the value in presenting a lesson on concepts that assist the students in completing the problems, as any good constructivist learning should do.

The videos help a student visualize the “real-word” problem and allows for further and tangent questioning. For example, the video of Lindbergh raises some history curiosity and may invoke students to research more on their own about Lindbergh’s flight, plane, ideas and technology of the time.

Unfortunately, some of the videos seem to solve the problems right in front of the viewer, which is sometimes useful, but it does not allow the viewer to solve the problems for themselves. The theory seems to be learning by viewing (passive) instead of learning by doing (active). I believe widespread television use has created this learn by viewing attitude which is a blessing and curse. It allows us to see what others are doing all around the world as well as the many things that are out there without leaving the confines of our homes. On the other hand, it may not give us the entire picture of what is really happening as much of the footage we see on T.V. is staged. A television cannot replace real experiences with real places and real people.

As a course designer, I would want to figure out how to use real-world experiences meaningful to students to assist them in solving problems. How would I create these experiences so they can have similar ones in their learning? Computers have made great strides in effective teaching as they can now provide instant feedback and interaction with the user and between users. How can we use this technology to help students understand concepts and then experiment with them in a technology-enhanced learning experience?

My Ideal Technology-Enhanced Learning Environment

Kozma recommends that, “Designers should provide students with environments that restructure the discourse of …classrooms around collaborative knowledge building and the social construction of meaning” (Kozma, 2003, p.9).

Our computers

The ideal design of a technology-enhanced learning environment would include:

  • Unlimited, but supervised, access to technology hardware and software
  • Expert teacher knowledge with support for technology use and current professional development
  • Constructivist, project-based assignments linked to real-world problems with the ability to be marketed outside the classroom
  • Interchangeable working spaces which transform to fir the needs of the activities and students
  • Links to industry, high learning, and cutting edge development in the math and science fields

Through this technology enhanced learning environment students would be engaged, knowledgeable, current and excited about discovering and developing learning outcomes.


Kozma, R.  (2003). Technology, innovation, and educational change: A global perspective, (A report of the Second Information Technology in Education Study, Module 2). Eugene,OR: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, ISTE Publications.

My Technology Definition


I like how Roblyer (2004) simply describes technology as “us -our tools, our methods, and our own creative attempts to solve problems.” Technology’s evolution relies heavily on what was created in the past. History and archealogoy teach us about previous groups of people through their technology use and the tools unearthed over time. We are constatnly amazed at the complexity of knowledge of these people. The ancient Egyptians built massive pyramids for the pharoahs with elaborate and amazing intricacies. Roblyer makes sure to include that technology is not just the physical, but ideas that have evolved to make life easier and better. We live in a great technological time, with the invention of the internet and widespead ideas. Through this technology our world is becomming united and some would even say-smaller.

internet & tacos

Read more about the buildig of the pyramids in Science Daily:



Roblyer, M.D. (2004). Integrating educational technology into teaching, 3rd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Merrill/ Prentice Hall.

Interview Response

As I reflect on the question of how to engage science students through technology, the issues surrounding the topic are many and varied. The group interview process opened my eyes to many other issues that stand in the way of delivering effective constructive lessons integrated with technology. There were a number of recurring themes throughout the discussions and they are all connected to my topic of study.

Interview Themes

1.Training and Professional Development

Teacher Training Workshop Developing Critical Thinking Skills via Exploring Science, Technolgy, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education Concepts


John noted, “PD needs to be timely and at the level of the learner-not just ‘one size fits all’.” Schools should not prematurely push their staff into using a particular technology or program. The time and money will be wasted. A support network, including the board and administration, needs to be in place before expecting everyone to use the technology. Local support was a topic that surfaced a number of times. If there is a teacher close by, that can guide a learning teacher, it reduces frustration and encourages more technology use. This mentor teacher relationship is even more important to new teachers who do not have the experience coming out of university.

There is a need for consistent follow-up, not just a good presentation that stirs an initial excitement. Without a follow-up and regular support, the excitement turns to frustration and then a falling away, back to original patterns. It was suggested by, ________ that a 5-minute technology PD moment/training be presented at staff meetings to introduce what is new, what is working and what might need to we changed.

A reduced workweek came up a few times, which would allow time for teachers to collaborate, practice technology use and create new lessons. The general feel was that teachers and students would appreciate the time and effort but schools boards and parents would not support it.

2. Inequity of Resources

Unequal Citizenship

Some schools choose to make technology a required item on their school supply list and students BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).  Some of the devices may include smart phones, tablets, graphing calculators, or laptops. Of course there are issues surrounding the BYOD theory, which include, inequality among students, item repair and support, and remembering to bring the devices to class. Other schools choose to provide basic technology, signed out for in-class use. There seem to be a number of issues related to not having the technology readily available in the classroom. If it is not on-hand, it goes unused and students miss out. The cost seems to be the bottom line in this case. Can schools afford to buy the technology, have it installed, provide the appropriate training and professional development, and replace items that break, wear out, or become obsolete?

3. Direction


Educational technology has influenced our classrooms greatly, especially over the last few years with the introduction of the personal home computer and now the smart devices carried by many of our students. We cannot really predict what the best technology or computer programs will be in the next 5 years so we need to be cautious in our technology decision making. Darren mentioned that, “Maybe we need to be the anchor the holds the kids to the real, concrete world, as their digital world swirls around them.” I see no harm in this as the real world will always be there to greet them when they unplug. I believe that as we strive to find balance between concrete and virtual experiences we will find that the two can co-exist together to create a firmer understanding of concepts.

 Further Questioning

There is room for further insight into the topic of engaging students like:

  1. How do students view technology integration in their classrooms?
  2. What technology do students want to use throughout their educational experience?
  3. What specific strategies create an engaging technological experience for teachers and students?


I do not see any easy answers to the challenge of engaging students through technology as both teachers’ and students’ backgrounds and experiences with technology vary greatly. I look forward to researching effective and proven strategies that engage learners and sharing them with the rest of the class and colleagues.



Technology Interview Transcript and Analysis

Transcription Analysis
 Q1. What are some specific   examples of how you use technology to engage students?“I use the Smart Board for   checking prior knowledge, enhancing new concepts and metacognition. I find I   can use it to help the kids think about their learning, not just the content.”“I like to have the kids use   the laptops to make presentations like PowerPoint, Notebook and Animoto. They   love using them to present in front of the rest of the class.”




Q2. What technology would   you like to see implemented into your classroom teaching?


“I would really like to see   iPad and iPhone apps used in class. There are so many available that there   must be some good ones to use in science.”



Q3.  Can you think of some examples of how   technology has made a negative impact on students in your classroom?



“ Kids these days get   off-task so easily. When we use the laptops I find I have to really monitor   what pages they are on. That is why I have my desk at the back of the room. I   can see every screen when I am walking at the back.”



Q4. What challenges do you   face when implementing new technology into your teaching?



“There is so much information   to choose from that the kids get somewhat anxious as they start out. I guess   discerning quality information from trash would be the toughest part.”


“Detecting bias in technology   is also very difficult, especially when you don’t know who or how many   authors create something online.”



Q5. How do your colleagues   share technological knowledge with each other? How do you think this can be   improved?


It is mostly shared through our PD sessions throughout the year.”


“We could have a tech moment   during every staff meeting where we can share the most current educational   information.”



Q6. Describe the ideal   physical classroom setup for technology use.

-iPads, Smard Boards, laptops,   projectors, document cameras, cell phones, and gaming systems

 “If I had ready access to all of these there would be so much that I could in a science class. You know what? We do have most of this stuff. I guess it would be nice to have it here in my room all the time. To have it right here and pull it out when it makes sense to do so.”

This interview took place after school in LG’s classroom on Jan 18th, 2012.  She is a junior high science and language arts teacher with 8 years of teaching experience. The room is outfitted with a Smart Board and 32 student desks, in rows.




I found that LG is really   trying to use the technology that we have learned through PD in her   classroom. With the implementation of Smart Boards in the school, she uses what   has been shared but does not explore much beyond what others have taught her.LG tries to make the Smart   Board interactive for her students, not just a screen at the front.The school has recently   purchased laptop carts and a new computer lab, making a total of 4 class sets   of computers.  The programs that LG   uses have all been pushed heavily at the school in the past through PD activities.Question I have: How do teachers become explorers   of technology instead of mere users?


The use of smart phones has   been as hot topic lately and there have not been any definitive answers   whether they should be used in schools or not. I need to do some research on   studies that show the effects of smart phone use in class.





A common problem with   technology integration is distractibility. Our class has discussed where the   line should be drawn between tool and toy. It has come up that we use our   toys for tools after work, why can’t we use the tools for toys during work. The   whole balance of the private/public work relationship is changing. We are   always working, so why not play a little at work?





The information era and the   internet makes great amounts of information available to everyone but the   quality may be diminished as anyone can be an author.


What steps do educators need   to take to teach students about quality and choosing reliable sources.


What biases are evident in   technology use? Do they affect our use of technology and how?




As noted earlier, LG learns and   uses the technology presented during PD sessions and would like to learn more   but finds it difficult to do so on her own. Constant guidance and support   would be beneficial for many staff.



Great idea that would only   take 2 minutes every month in staff meetings.




Our school does have access   to most of the items listed but is not always to schedule with everyone else   who wants to use it. The librarian only works at the school 3 days a week,   which makes it even more difficult to coordinate. Access to the technology is key. I should be readily available in each department and ideally, in every classroom, depending on the teacher’s comfort level.

Unpacking Assumptions

What is a good use of technology in the math and science classroom?

I view technology as a teaching tool that engages students through access to information, inquiry based problem solving, and real-world applications.

Access to Information

With the internet as a tool, students have access to any information they need or want to assist them in their conceptual learning. It provides not just definitions and explanations, like a textbook, but pictures, videos, virtual tours, links, and interactive experiences with the content they are studying. The depth of a topic is not limited to what is printed on the page in front of them or the expertise of the instructor. It can go much deeper than either of these instructional tools allow. Access to this information is crucial in today’s learning environements.

Inquiry Based Problem Solving

With all the information available today there is a huge amount of personal choice for learners. They can pick what breadth and depth they want to learn about on any topic imaginable. Technology helps students embrace what they are passionate about and learn more about it. A good use of technology in math and science is to use it to motivate students to seek out their passions. It can be used as a reward for completing something they may not be so passionate about, as well.

Technology can be used as a collaboration tool to cut distance and time between learners and teachers. Online and blended learning is on the upswing, with more and more students choosing this route throughout their schooling. User-friendly applications can assist in group work and communication between students and teachers.

Real-World Applications

The internet provides students with real-world applications in visuals and text. They can complete virtual labs with little or no cost. They can observe live operations and communicate with astronauts in space. Technology opens the doors to the world if it is accessible in classrooms.

What would such a learning experience and environment look like?

An environment like this would need to have computer and internet access, one per child, to use as often as they see fit. The computer would have to be portable, as students may be in different groups at different times. The work would not end when they leave the class but continue at home or in the hall at lunch. I don’t envision the classroom setup as rows of desks but pods of tables or work stations where any number can join together to interact, share ideas, or work quietly on their own. There would still be the need to focus on a teacher as they instruct the whole class but this whole class instruction would be infrequent.

There are many things to consider when deciding on technology use in classrooms but in general, I believe there could be more technology integration in most classes. I see it as the way of the future, as force that will not be stopped.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog for ETEC 533:Technology in the Mathematics and Science Classroom. I will be posting my coursework and refelections throughout the Jan-April 2012 term.

Visit my welcome page for more info about me and this course.