Curriculum Customization Service: Results of a Pilot Study and Future Enhancements
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Digital libraries are a powerful tool for delivering educational resources to the classroom. We have been investigating ways to enable the use and repurposing of educational resources to support student-centered differentiated instruction. The Curriculum Customization Service (CCS) is being developed in partnership with the Denver Public Schools (DPS). It provides an on-line environment that delivers digitized curricular materials such as classroom activities, assessments and teacher support materials, and interactive digital library resources in the context of district learning goals. In this poster we will (1) describe the technical underpinnings of the service (2) highlight the results of a pilot study that was conducted in the fall of 2008 and (3) describe new features that are being developed for an expanded DPS field trial scheduled to begin in fall 2009. The CCS software is built using the open source EduPak digital library infrastructure available through the NSF-funded National Science Digital Library (NSDL) program. The EduPak components include the NSDL Collection System, the Digital Discovery System (DDS) and the NSDL Data Repository. Curricula are described using a linked data model that includes objects such as units, district standards, activities, educational resources and assessments. These curricula are cataloged and managed using the Collection System, and for the fall 2009 trials, user-contributed content will be saved to and retrieved from the Discovery System and Data Repository. Each of the EduPak components provides Web service APIs, which are used to generate rich user interfaces in the CCS. In addition, DDS services are being used to automatically pull in digital resources from the Digital Library for Earth System Education and link them to district learning goals in the curriculum. Ten middle and high school teachers participated in a user-center design process to produce a prototype system for pilot testing. During a 10 week period the CCS was used in place of paper-based student texts and teacher guides for planning and teaching. Our research focused on teacher use of tool features, and impacts on teachers' efforts to improve student engagement and learning. Teachers' use of the system was tracked through Web logs and Google Analytics, and data on individual experiences were gathered using surveys, phone interviews, and reflective essays. Analysis showed that integrating curricular materials, instructional guides and digital resources in a single interface and in the context of learning goals supported teachers' instructional practice efficiently. Access to interactive resources to improve student engagement and capture their interest was reported as the primary use of the system. In the fall of 2009 an expanded field trial including all 110 Earth Science teachers from DPS is scheduled. With continued input from the teachers, the system is being enhanced with additional customization and collaboration features. Teachers will be able to save, annotate and tag digital library resources and upload and save files to a personal workspace, and tie them directly to the district learning goals and activities in the curriculum. Social networking features will enable sharing and discovery of others' contributions and make visible aggregated activity trends within the system, such as the most popular digital library resources selected by the teachers. Use tracking and survey instruments similar to the previous study will be collected and an analysis and report is expected to follow in the spring of 2010.