NetStat: EAGER: A Representation and Communication Infrastructure for Classroom Collaboration in Data Modeling and Statistics

PI: Corey Brady
Vanderbilt University
Award Details

This project aims to enhance collaborative and participatory learning in classrooms, an important and enduring theme across both research and practice. The project will use design-based research to build and study NetStat, a classroom network system for supporting collaborative activities in data modeling and statistics. This project’s approach to creating collaborative systems on the basis of single-user software has the potential to impact large numbers of teachers and their classrooms. As a classroom network, NetStat will integrate two core types of components: 1) a representation infrastructure, consisting of tools to generate, aggregate, visualize, and analyze data; and 2) a communication infrastructure that enables teachers to orchestrate activities that distribute these representational tools to participants (individual students or groups) to fulfill roles in collaborative activities. The software components the project will integrate have extremely wide acceptance, facilitating adoption of NetStat by their respective user communities. By constructing Netstat from powerful, freely-available, and open-source platforms, classrooms, the classroom networking tools developed through the product can be readily accessed and flexibly implemented in classrooms worldwide. Moreover, the group-centered technologies developed through this project and the novel and authentic forms of participation in mathematics practices they are aimed at supporting offer the potential to provide rich learning experiences for students who may not have experienced success in more traditional mathematics classrooms. The project is supported by the Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies Program, which funds efforts that will help envision the next generation of learning technologies and advance what we know about how people learn in technology-rich environments. Cyberlearning Exploration (EXP) Projects explore the viability of new kinds of learning technologies by designing and building new kinds of learning technologies and studying their possibilities for fostering learning and challenges to using them effectively.

Given trends in software architecture and the move toward open-source, web-based software, there is an opportunity for collaborative, group-centered software to gain enormous leverage from the accumulated wisdom encoded in research-based software created for individual use. By using the widespread Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern, the project will be able to use components of these powerful individual-user tools to construct the multi-user, collaborative representation infrastructure of NetStat. If successful, this approach will yield enormous benefits that extend beyond NetStat and help to establish the genre of classroom network systems, making it dramatically easier in the future to create such systems across many subject areas. The project will test this hypothesis in the area of statistics and data modeling, using CODAP, GeoGebra, and NetLogo as tools for NetStat?s representation infrastructure, and constructing the communication infrastructure on the basis of classroom collaboration patterns and activity structures that have emerged in the classroom network literature. Classroom studies with NetStat will explore the broad terrain of collaborative activities in statistics (a domain where part-whole relations are fundamental), engaging with concepts of aggregation, sampling, description, and inference. Building on a rich tradition of recent research and development projects focused on classroom networks and on an extensive literature on the design of mathematics learning environments developed over the last 25 years, the project, if successful, will enhance the genre of classroom-level collaboration, and contribute important new insights into the potential and the critical features of next-generation mathematics classroom technology that integrates and extends existing software environments.

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