By: Debbie Currie
Digital Media and Learning Research Hub: The Digital Media and Learning Research Hub is an international research center based at the University of California Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation, the DML Research Hub has three stated goals: to examine how digital technology has altered education (including formal and informal educational sites); to support innovations that use digital media to enhance education; and to research and promote best practices for facilitating education through digital media. The Hub is especially interested in how digital media can enhance civic participation. On its website, visitors can read about the team’s research and watch video presentations about how to incorporate digital media into instruction. Visitors will also find a curated set of free and open resources, culled from websites, webinars, publications, and blog posts. Entries from the collaborative blog, dmlcentral, are most prominent. Authored by a diverse group of academics, blog entries include reflections about online youth activism, disparities in access to digital media, and how digital media is shaping conceptions and experiences of adolescence. New digital media tools for educators are also regularly profiled.
Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Program: The Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems (ETE) Program, which is housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, works to understand the development of ecosystems over very long periods of time – hundreds of millions of years, in fact. Using fossil records, ETE scientists use paleoecological analyses to uncover a host of different patterns, evolutions, structures, and compositions of ecological communities and their ever changing dynamics. Readers may peruse the history of the ETE program, which dates back to 1990, as well as the fascinating people behind it, such as researcher A. Kay Behrensmeyer. Under the Research tab, readers will find a helpful Glossary, as well as additional information about ETE projects and research in Kenya, Central Asia, South Africa, Wyoming, and other locales. An extensive list of ETE Publications is also available, and while complete articles are not accessible from the site, the reference list offers a look at the range of research that has been conducted over the years.
Expii: Expii functions as an interactive series of math and science textbooks. Po-Shen Loh, a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University, created Expii with the aim of making math and science instruction more interactive and collaborative. The resource can be navigated in one of two ways: users may either search for a specific topic, such as “quadratic equations” or “Newton’s first law,” or they may use the Topic Map for game-like exploration. This second approach reveals the many connections between math and science and allows users to create their own journey through a variety of subjects, such as algebra, physics, astronomy, and calculus. Topics are accompanied by short explanations of concepts and often include complete practice problems. Notably, Expii is a crowdsourced learning site; contributors from around the globe can add their own definitions, create new problems, or update problem explanations.
SciStarter: Citizen science is the idea that anyone, any citizen, can volunteer their time for the good of scientific research and discovery without having to be formally trained. SciStarter is the place to find and participate in citizen science projects, whether that be an extension of one of your current hobbies, like collecting data while bird watching (The Great Backyard Bird Count), or a fun educational activity to do with a child, like collecting bugs (Urban Buzz). As a repository for citizen science projects, the SciStarter Project Finder lets users search for projects and opportunities by type of activity, such as something to do exclusively online, or by topic, such as animals, geography, or health and medicine. There are also ways to limit your search by location, by free or low cost projects, or by projects suitable for students. Each entry includes general information about the project and a link to more information about how to participate. If you’re looking to contribute a project to the database, the For Scientists section of the website offers an easy way to add suggestions, while the blog discusses news and outcomes of current citizen science fueled projects.