CAP: Mobile Pathways for 21st Century Learning

PIs: Debra Socia, Deborah Boisvert, Sousan Arafeh, Blair Reich, Yvonne Spicer

Open Air Boston (OAB) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bridge the digital divide so that low-income, under-served populations in the City of Boston have access to digital communications technology and the Internet. The OAB Technology Goes Home (TGH) Program is an 11-year-old, award-winning City initiative that gives under-served residents the opportunity to access the tools and education required for 21st century skills development. The next step in this initiative has been conceptualized as a collaboration with local informal education organizations to design game-like community learning experiences that use mobile technologies to engage students and their parents in scientific reasoning and exploration that will help them learn STEM content and practices and perhaps become interested in STEM careers. This Cyberlearning Capacity-Building Project (CAP) is for the purpose of building the research capacity of this already-strong team so that they have the capacity to develop an approach that is based on the best that the literature has to tell us about how people learn and how people learn with technology and so that they can use their efforts as an infrastructure for carrying out research that will advance what is known about engaging low-income, under-served populations of teens in STEM endeavors in beneficial ways. The team is undertaking three capacity-building sub-goals to help them incorporate state-of-the-art knowledge and findings into their approach: (1) further developing the project team, partnerships, and collaboration activities of the team so that they can successfully achieve those goals; (2) synthesizing the research literature on the use of a social-mobile learning applications to engage students in informal STEM learning; and (3) synthesizing the research literature on engaging under-represented, under-served middle school students and their parents in technology-based collaborative educational activities. Experts on how people learn and how people learn with technology are collaborating with the already-existing team to conceptualize an approach to using mobile devices to engage middle schoolers and their families in STEM exploration and investigation in their community that has foundations in what is known about how people learn and engaging adolescents in science and that has good potential to lead to STEM learning and interest in STEM-related careers.