WISE 101: A Brief Introduction to a TELE

  • What is WISE?

    • Web-based Inquiry Science Environment
    • Created in 1996 at The University of Calfornia, and Berkeley; has been expanded on from various researchers, educators and scientists worldwide
  • What was the motivation to create WISE?

    • Developers recognized that learners share a variety of misconceptions about every scientific phenomena and that learners also “deliberately” learn about science in order to expand on their own views of the world around them.
    • Developers hoped to create a platform that supported inquiry projects that lead to cohesive, sensical and thoughtful scientific reasoning
    • Utilizing the affordances of the internet, more realistic approaches could be weaved into the projects (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2002)
  • In what ways does SKI promote knowledge integration through its technological and curriculum design?

    • SKI: Scaffolded Knowledge Integration
    • There are four tenets to the SKI framework:
      • 1. Learners should have opportunities to “make their thinking visible”.
      • 2. Learners should be provided with opportunities that facilitate science being accessible to them.
      • 3. Learners should be provided with collaborative opportunities.  
      • 4. The design of the learning model should promote lifelong learning.
    • There are four types of “Knowledge Integration” prompts within SKI:
      • 1. Overarching: the process of connecting views across the entire project
      • 2. Critique: prompts that require learners to assess the scientific content
      • 3. Interpretation: to reinterpret evidence in a new context
      • 4. Explanation: learners are required explain evidence in their own words. (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2002)
  • Describe a typical process for developing a WISE project.

    • Should an educator wish to develop their own WISE project, creating a free account would be the first step. Although I have limited experience with the design process, in the first two hours that I spent with WISE, I was easily able to copy an existing project, then alter it to my own needs. My recommendation would be to tinker with pre-existing projects before starting one from scratch.  Overall, I would predict that the platform would be very user-friendly for those with a moderate amount of technological courage and experience, or more.
    • When developing an inquiry WISE project, researchers have narrowed down a few general strategies for problem-based learning and inquiry design:
      • 1. Ensure that disciplinary thinking and strategies are explicit
      • 2. Expert guidance (scaffolding) should be embedded throughout the project
      • 3. Complex tasks should be structured/scaffolded, thus reducing the “cognitive load” on the learners. (Lee & Chen, 2009)
    • Research has determined that reflections and explanations are more effective than procedural prompts
    • Although not too many studies have been done on how much scaffolding is needed within projects, educators should be mindful of the “Situated Knowledge Paradox”— when learners lack sufficient prior knowledge during an inquiry, thus their naivety misinforms and creates resilient misconceptions. (Kim & Hannafin, 2010)
  • How does this design process compare with the Jasper Adventures?

    • Compared to the Jasper Series, WISE is by far the more adaptable platform. In WISE, educators can choose to embed a vast array of tasks within the lesson, in addition to what Jasper can offer.  Students can effortlessly navigate from task to task, watching videos, performing experiments, reflecting on their learning, collaborating with others, visiting other simulations, and more.
    • Knowing what I now know about WISE, I would have rather spent two weeks investigating it as opposed to one week on Jasper and one week on WISE.  WISE “wins” by a landslide, as far as I am concerned!
  • How could you use a WISE project in your school or another learning environment?

    • From a senior Physics perspective, I would utilize WISE in a unit such as Gravitation or Modern Physics, where I lack the ability to demonstrate or conduct labs with my limited equipment. As a proponent of “hands on” learning, in units that I can bring into the classroom, I would be more reluctant to have students on screens.
    • I could also see the benefit of conducting an Earth Science 11 or a Science and Technology 11 course purely on WISE, as the students who mostly take these courses are not moving on to science related post-secondary programs.  I think more of our “reluctant learners” who just need a Science 11 credit to graduate, would have more buy-in with a format that was focused on learning fewer outcomes, but more in-depth. In courses like these, Final Exams could be eliminated entirely, in exchange for a Final Inquiry Project of their choosing.
  • What about WISE would you customize?

    • Everything.
    • Because I can.
    • “I like my teacher, but he never teaches us anything.” “We read a novel, did a project and moved onto the next novel without discussion.  I really wanted to talk about the first novel, but that wasn’t part of the process.” These are two comments from the daughter of a friend of mine who came out of an inquiry middle school model. Although she enjoyed picking her own projects, she also wished that her teacher had actually ran the show at times.  I believe that students want to have confidence in their teachers’ knowledge. Should teachers choose to run inquiry delivery models, they need to keep their essence in their lessons. Personalizing lessons within WISE, conducting class discussions, pushing students to think outside of their comfort zones and acting as the MKO (More Knowledgeable Other) at times, are all important actions and roles for educators to adopt.
    • As far as I am concerned, it is wise to keep our wisdom in WISE!

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Lee, C. -Y., & Chen, M. -P. (2009). A computer game as a context for non-routine mathematical problem solving: the effects of type of question prompt and level of prior knowledge. Computers & Education, 52, 530–542.

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

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