We plan to offer the first of WellesleyX courses in fall 2013, with others to follow in spring 2014 or thereafter. These offerings will not only provide opportunities to those who might not otherwise be able to afford or access a liberal arts education, but will also benefit on-campus students and alumnae. By partnering with other education leaders, Wellesley hopes to help shape the rapidly evolving online learning environment, as well as to explore ways to incorporate technology creatively and effectively in the classroom.
Can gaming and robotics be used to teach computational thinking skills to middle school students in culturally sensitive ways?
A multidisciplinary University of Wyoming research team will explore that and related questions with the support of a three-year, $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program.
UW’s project will engage middle schools in at least 10 Wyoming school districts. UW Science and Mathematics Teaching Center (SMTC) Director Jacqueline Leonard has drawn together a multidisciplinary team from the UW Colleges of Education, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences to research a question that has been part of her research agenda for several years.
During the multiphase project, team members will train teachers to develop mathematical and scientific lessons that are culturally relevant to their students. Leonard says they will support educators as they implement those lessons. They will work with the teachers to analyze the impact on students’ overall learning. Finally, the research team will work with participants interested in becoming peer trainers, extending the project’s reach after the grant period ends.
The path to funding hasn’t been an easy one, Leonard says, noting that eight rejected versions, from three different NSF programs, preceded the successful UW proposal.
“It took nine iterations, in all of those different programs, to really flesh those ideas out,” Leonard says.
That long path led Leonard to UW and, ultimately, the environment with the biggest potential impact.
“It would not look the way it looks, it would not have the team that it has, it wouldn’t be in the place where I think it can make the most difference, if this hadn’t been the journey that I took,” she says. “I think it’s absolutely the right time, the right place and the right people.”
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