Driver et al. (1994) present the idea that scientific knowledge is created in a way that is more than a constructivist foundation and requires acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of a variety of factors that include personal experiences, language, and socialization. Secondly, they notice that it is not the teaching of specific scientific knowledge but rather the “constructs that are advanced by the scientific community to interpret nature.” (Driver et al., 1994) They continue to demonstrate that the widely held scientific principles that we hold to be true are “constructed and communicated through the culture and social institutions of science.” (Driver et al., 1994) They return to Piagetian foundations and the need to challenge existing schema to create conflict and cause students to move to a state of disequilibrium and develop new schemes to understand their experience. It is the social component that is key in knowledge acquisition.
This led me to read two articles about field trips and can we replace them with virtual field trips. Both articles seem to support the conclusions about the importance of the social component to learning that was missing from the virtual field trip. In their study Spicer and Stratford (2001) found that field trips develop more than just scientific knowledge and that “[t]hese experiences involve the ability to take responsibility and be responsible for yourself and colleagues, to work and cooperate with other people and to make friends and win trust.” (Spicer and Stratford, 2001) Again we find a return to the ideas raised by Driver et al. that there is a social component to learning.
Lastly, I looked at a number of the networked communities, including GLOBE, Exploratorium, and Discovery Education. Each site offered great amount of resources to create allow students to be more interactive in their learning of science. I can see tremendous value in students measuring rain fall and relaying it to the team at GLOBE and then for my students to be able to interact with that data and compare to other regions. It supports Driver et al. ideas of a making the classroom part of a larger scientific community. I think that Adedokun et al, (2012) summarize it best in their study when they identified that “they are viable alternatives for providing students with learning opportunities and experiences that would have otherwise been unavailable to them.” (Adedokun et. al, 2012) It returns to our discussions around PCK and that if the experience brings something new to the classroom then it is probably hitting the sweet spot where pedagogy, content and technology interconnect to build knowledge. If it is just replacing then there may be less value to both the time and the students.
Adedokun, O. A., Hetzel, K., Parker, L. C., Loizzo, J., Burgess, W. D., & Paul Robinson, J. (2012). Using Virtual Field Trips to Connect Students with University Scientists: Core Elements and Evaluation of zipTrips™. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(5), 1-12.
Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Scott, P., & Mortimer, E. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational researcher, 23(7), 5-12.
Spicer, J., & Stratford, J. (2001). Student perceptions of a virtual field trip to replace a real field trip. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 17, 345-354.