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Content archived on 2024-06-16

Science Research - Education International Partnership --Technology-Based Collaboration among Scientists, Educators, Students and the Communities

Final Activity Report Summary - RE-ED-PARTNERSHIP (Science Research - Education International Partnership - Technology-Based Collaboration among Scientists, Educators, Students and the Communities)

This study was designed to respond to some of the urgent needs of our society, concerning in particular science education and the role it should play in our lives. Its main purpose was to explore alternative approaches of science teaching and the ways of new scientific innovations' communication to educators, students and the community.

MIGAL Galilee Technology Centre, a science research centre in Northern Israel, and its educational branch initiated a new paradigm of researchers and educators synergy, namely the REP model. It explored a technology-based system, which supported collaboration between scientists and other parties interested in science research. Using an internet-based system, students and teachers could work together on science projects while consulting each other as well as scientists around the world who had noticeable expertise in each specific research area.

The main project goal was to develop and explore a collaborative science research network between students, teachers and scientists in a global framework, utilising a Computer-supported collaborative learning environment (CSCLE). The target of the first phase, lasting for the first project year, was to explore the different components of the REP model including:
1. testing of the learning paradigm and the feasibility of the relevant theoretical assumptions;
2. searching for learning technologies that would fit the model;
3. designing of the working procedures for the collaborative network.

The second phase, i.e. the second year of the project, explored various aspects of the international framework implementation including:
1. the effect of the REP model on students, teachers and scientists;
2. problems of international implementation; and
3. methods and procedures.

The REP learning model enabled students from different regions or countries to work together on biotechnology research projects. The students and teachers collaborated with expert scientists. All components of knowledge-seeking inquiry, such as setting up goals, research questions and explanations or searching for scientific information, were shared using communication technology that allowed discussions and presentations of documents and resource information.

The REP model was evaluated as an effective tool in exposing students and teachers to advanced scientific research. The students developed independent thinking, collaborative learning skills and a scientific approach to learning. At the same time, it forged a strong linkage to their immediate learning environment, in the context of the mandatory school program on the one hand and the scientific community on the other. Conducting a research project within a 'real' setting, with 'real' scientists, increased the students' motivation and interest in science and research work.

Furthermore, the collaboration of teachers with scientists and their research had a positive effect on their scientific approach to teaching. This exposure introduced them to current scientific procedures and knowledge which was normally unavailable in schools. This allowed the teachers to stand aside and let the students occupy a more active role in the learning process.

On the other hand, scientists, who usually were remote from the learning communities, developed communication skills that allowed them to support the students and teachers. Even though this study aimed too high in expecting scientists to understand and become constructivist instructors, all the participating scientists developed a positive attitude towards communicating and supporting students and the educational community.

We estimated that the REP learning model and its effect on teachers, researchers and students was not limited to the field of implementation of this project and could be applied to additional fields of research. Hopefully, other future studies would also explore this use of technology as a vehicle for global learning, connecting students all over the world and creating a global learning community.