LabNet: Toward a community of practice
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It is common currency that science education in America isn't working well enough. We are failing to excite the curiosity of young minds in the great questions of the physical universe. LabNet—a prototype teacher-support project developed by TERC, and funded by the National Science Foundation, is dedicated to addressing this issue. The first three year phase of LabNet began in January 1989 and ended in mid-1992. During that time, some 562 high school teachers of physics in 37 states were involved. Three interconnected threads are woven through the fabric of LabNet. The first, and most vivid, is the use of projects to enhance students' science learning. LabNet's second thread is building a community of practice among LabNet teachers. The third thread woven into LabNet is promoting the use of new technologies in science teaching and learning. The most notable use of new technology in the LabNet project is telecommunications—computer-to-computer communication via telephone lines. A dedicated network has been created and made available to all participants. As the first national network designed for high school teachers of physical science, the LabNetwork is a dynamic medium for building and sustaining a community of practice for physics teachers separated by many thousands of miles. In recommendations directed at teachers, scientists, and particularly the National Science Foundation, steps are outlined that can be taken to strengthen the community and the teaching of science in both the secondary and elementary grades.
Key wordsScience education science projects community of practice telecommunication educational technology
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