Using networked computers to help school students learn about science.
Michuez, Peter, Antonitsch, Peter and Mittermeir, Roland (eds.)
Innovative Concepts for Teaching Informatics.
Informatics in Secondary Schools
As computer ownership rises and as the cost of high-speed connection to the Internet falls, increasing numbers of young people are making use of the Internet for communication and for learning . Networked computers are also extensively used for teaching and learning in industry and in Higher Education, yet schools lag significantly in this respect, since both researchers  and school inspectors  find little use of networked computers used to support collaborative learning in schools. This paper reports the results of research carried out with three classes of 13/14 year-old science students. Working in an online environment, these students engaged in asynchronous and synchronous discussions relating to a practical science investigation, using these discussions to support their developing ideas and, later, to critique the research reports and associated knowledge claims produced by other students. Preliminary analysis of students’ online discussions was followed by group interviews. The outcomes of this research reveals that online discussions among students followed by group discussion of carefully selected extracts from logfiles may provide teachers with a powerful tool for developing students’ understanding of science through the discussion of practical work. A pedagogical framework for this process is proposed, based on the framework used in the research.
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