• Digital Libraries in the Science Classroom: An Opportunity for Inquiry

      Wallace, Raven; Krajcik, Joseph; Soloway, Elliot (1996-09)
      Digital libraries offer a unique and unprecedented resource through which teachers can facilitate student inquiry. In the recent National Research Council publication quoted above, National Science Education Standards, emphasis on inquiry is pervasive. Yet, when it comes to textbooks and curricula as they exist today, the clear emphasis is on learning science content disconnected from experience. Although digital libraries can't change pedagogy or textbooks, they can make it possible for students to have access to scientific information and data which interests them, a fundamental requirement for authentic inquiry. Digital libraries can provide teachers with a feasible way to let students pursue their own interests within the bounds of the curriculum and without creating an enormous amount of extra work in providing students with materials to support their investigations. This article will explore the ways in which digital libraries can support inquiry learning. We are looking at the benefits of digital libraries in high schools and middle schools through our experiences with implementation of University of Michigan's Digital Library (UMDL). In particular, we will focus here on students asking their own questions, and learning through sustained inquiry. This article will address the following questions: Why is it important for students to ask their own questions and how does it contribute to inquiry based learning? How do digital libraries help make inquiry learning possible? How is UMDL supporting sustained inquiry? What is our research telling us about tools and techniques needed to make it happen?