ONE GIANT LEAP FOR DIGITAL COURSEWARE? NASA wants to explore another strange, new world: digital courseware in science education. Today the organization’s Science Mission Directorate Education Community announced a five-year, $10 million grant to Arizona State University to develop “next-generation digital learning experiences” that incorporate NASA science content on the Smart Sparrow adaptive platform.
ASU teams—led by Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton and Deputy Principal Investigator Ariel Anbar of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration—will work with the university’s Center for Education Through eXploration (ETX) and the Inspark Science Network, a joint initiative of ETX and Smart Sparrow that is supported through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The teams will work to develop digital courseware designed to promote learning and teaching science through exploration. Their work will focus first on “independent self-learners of science” and will eventually expand to formal K-12 education, with the goal of reaching “millions of users,” according to ASU.
Anbar says the aim of the grant is “to help learners become problem-solvers capable of exploring the unknown, rather than just mastering what is already known. It is learning science as process and as a universe of questions rather than as a dusty collection of facts."