Education and Technology:
Serendip's Experiences 1994-2004

Synthesized by Paul Grobstein and Jody Cohen

Serendip was founded ten years ago in part as "a continually developing set of resources to explore and support intellectual and social change in education ...". Over the past decade, Serendip has been involved in an extended (and continuing) process of "trying out things" to see how the web can be used in education.

The Issue

Think for a bit about what have been your own richest and most meaningful learning experiences, and/or about what you have seen work best in classrooms and other environments. Are they all occasions on which you have read something, or heard something, or been shown something? Or are at least some of them occasions on which you were playing with something yourself and discovered you knew how to do something you didn't know how to do or figured out something you hadn't known before? Even when you're reading/hearing/being shown something, doesn't it help if you can actually see what it is that what you're reading/hearing/being show is actually about? if you can actually experience it yourself? The web is an information provider of course; could it actually be an experience provider as well?

Theory

The Web makes possible a revolution in "education" in the broadest sense, by making available to all human beings not only information/ideas/perspectives, but also "experiences", of a kind which individuals can themselves learn from, rather than being told about.

(More Theory)

Examples, Exercises, and Additional Resources on Serendip

Further Questions

What are the pros and cons of trying to make education exploration based?

Is "play" a legitimate educational activity?

What are the pros and cons of playing on the web? on computers? in comparison to less "virtual" explorations/playing?

How can one intersect web exploration with other kinds of exploration? of teaching/learning?

How We Use the Web:
II. Interactive Educational Experiences

Experiences from Serendip

  • It's hard to find the wherewithal for having experiences in libraries, textbooks, magazines, and the like. One consequence is that classrooms tend to make one kind of learning (the kind where one reads/hears/is shown) seem like the only or at least the only important kind. Good teachers can try and offset this in their own classrooms but it takes substantial investment in planning and materials that needs to be done and redone individually in each case.

  • The web is not only an information resource, it is also an experience resource. Because the web is computer based, one can create not only information resources but also experiences, things that people can play with and learn from on their own and/or learn from by watching other people play with them.

  • Discovering this web potential and becoming familiar with its use encourages substantial rethinking of classroom practices to encourage/support more hands on, student centered learning, whether it is done using the web or in other ways.


Commentary on Serendip's Experiences

The web has the potential to substantially contribute to a broader recognition of the importance of "multiple intelligences" in education, and to a transition from a more directive and narrowly focused educational environment to one that has a broader base and is more exploratory/playful.

Serendip's Pedagogical Musings

Conceiving of educational environments as a place to have "experiences" rather than a place to convey information/ perspectives/ skills is a significant step for many teachers. It means to some extent abandoning a desired predictability in what will occur in classrooms and raises interesting questions about content-coverage as well as assessment. These are, however, issues that probably deserve serious consideration in any case, and so the availability of web "experiences" highlights important educational issues rather than creating them de novo.

Web "experiences" are somewhat more difficult to create than are web-based information resources but need not be greatly so. The educational potential is, in any case, large enough to warrant teachers developing increased sophistication in generating such materials. Like information resources, they can be created in ways that make them usable by wide audiences so the time investment can be readily justified.

| Forum | Science and Education | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip
© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Friday, 09-Nov-2007 12:27:26 EST