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Title:Democratizing Bioinformatics Research in a High School Biology Classroom
Author(s):Bruce, Bertram C.; Jakobsson, Eric G.; Thakkar, Umesh; Williamson, Jo E.; Lock, Paul
Biology Student Workbench
High School
Inquiry Page
inquiry-based learning
John Dewey
Abstract:John Dewey’s idea for a philosophy of experience has long challenged us to consider how to democratize education and scientific research practices so that students can have a variety of everyday opportunities to participate in discoveries and create new knowledge instead of passively receiving it. According to Dewey, such democratic learning requires four dimensions, which are aligned to the intrinsic interests of the learner: (1) communication (e.g., the opportunity to discuss); (2) inquiry (e.g., the opportunity to ask questions); (3) construction (e.g., the opportunity to create things); and (4) artistic expression (e.g., the opportunity to express) (Dewey, 1990, p. 47). In pursuing Dewey’s challenge in more recent years, many educators have considered how information technology can contribute to democratization. For example, Bruce and Levin’s (1997) taxonomy classifies a variety of modern technology uses that align with Dewey’s four-interest framework. In this taxonomy, Bruce and Levin’s stated purposes were to explore the ways in which applications currently supported integrated, inquiry-based learning and teaching and to highlight potential uses of technology, as well. In addition, Hill (1999) provides a general overview of open-ended information systems, such as the World Wide Web, which allow users access to an ever-expanding, vast amount of data that could be used to solve a variety of problems. According to Hill, open-ended information systems are also characterized by shared authorship. Thus, users are not only consumers of information, but also creators of the system. Although open-ended information systems may be moderated for quality control purposes, users have opportunities to add content, data, or tools as they participate in the open-ended information systems. In this paper, we attempt to move beyond descriptions of how such technologies might be useful to enact Dewey’s principles to providing a concrete example of how one high school biology class actually did so using Biology Workbench.[2] As expected, the story illustrates how information technology can help realize democracy in education on a level that would be very difficult to achieve without it. However, the case also illustrates how educators need to work with inquiry-based approaches to help students realize the potential of these open systems. Environments such as the Inquiry Page[3] help to contextualize the use of tools such as Biology Workbench.
Issue Date:2003-04-21
Citation Info:Bruce, Bertram C.: Jakobsson, Eric G.; Thakkar, Umesh; Williamson, Jo E., & Lock, Paul R. (2003, April 21-25). Democratizing bioinformatics research in a high school biology classroom. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL.
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Publication Status:unpublished
Peer Reviewed:is peer reviewed
Date Available in IDEALS:2009-08-03

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