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Issues and Challenges in Science Education Research

pp 263-280

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Challenging Opportunities: Integrating ICT in School Science Education

  • Julie CroughAffiliated withResearch Institute for Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University Email author 
  • , Louise FoggAffiliated withNorthern Territory Department of Education and Training, Curriculum Teaching and Phases of Learning
  • , Jenni WebberAffiliated withNorthern Territory Department of Education and Training

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Abstract

Recent advances in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) offer significant opportunities to engage students in science education that is relevant to their everyday lives. Northern Australia is one of the most sparsely settled regions of the world with a population density of 0.3 people per square kilometre. In this region lies the Northern Territory, where 47% of students live in remote areas. Access to resources, including qualified science teachers, science centres and scientists, that are freely available to their student counterparts in other parts of Australia and developed nations, are not readily available. Thus, ICT has the potential to play a fundamental role in science education for remote northern Australia. While northern Australia is relatively intact ecologically and its biodiversity richness is internationally significant, this ecological value has been largely unrecognised and absent in school education. In response, the Tropical Savannas Cooperative Research Centre, in partnership with the Northern Territory Department of Education and Training, has developed a range of online, integrated resources that focus on valuing and sustaining the northern environments of Australia. EnviroNorth: Living Sustainably in Australia’s Savannas (http://​environorth.​org.​au) helps bridge the identified gap that exists between the scientific research conducted in northern Australia and science education that is taught in schools. The design-based research that underpins EnviroNorth provides a relevant context for learning in these regions. It also provides a window for engaging learning opportunities in other parts of Australia and the rest of the world. However, despite schools throughout northern Australia embracing ICT, its integration into science education poses a challenge for many teachers. This chapter discusses the affordances of adopted educational technologies in designing and developing these teaching and learning resources, along with the enablers and barriers to adopting ICT and these resources in schools.