The differences between contemporary ITV (Instructional TV) and "Electronic Field Trips" are indeed significant. The programming is designed for instant response and feedback from all participants via two-way audio, video, and Internet traffic. Participants also gain a powerful participatory sense of audience. And what kid doesn't love an audience? When an audience is interested in what a young person has to say, the experience has an apparent and positive impact on learning. Additionally, the notion that a big production team is assembled for their learning is also important. (Think about what is usually being said by the structure of the school day and the limits of supply and resource.)
Via the Internet, materials that relate to a project branch out in easy-to-follow links in so many directions as to be firstly and practically infinite to the human mind. Secondly, these links and their connectedness provide opportunities for the individual to follow personal interests.
Beyond the reality of almost instant and expansive access to information lies another opportunity -- an opportunity to engage visual materials, tools, and techniques for the purpose of visualizing information (Edward R. Tufte, Envisioning Information and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Graphics Press, Box 430, Cheshire Conn. 06410). Cumulatively these factors yield a sense of ownership by the student lucky enough to be allowed the opportunity to construct personal meaning.
Current fundamental tenets of how learning takes place are expressed profoundly by a learner using electronic field trips. Electronic field trips are addressing a broader criterion of learning, more closely approximating the reality of successful learners.
The Science Framework for the State of California recognizes the need to "Demonstrate the enterprise and operation of science...examining the array of job prospects and interest areas...and describing how the products of science and technology change society."
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