Roschelle, J., & DiGiano, C. (2004). ESCOT: Coordinating the influence of R&D and classroom practice to produce educational software from reusable components. Interactive Learning Environments, 12 (1-2), 73-107.
In a 3-year project, a consortium of university, nonprofit and commercial educational software developers formed a testbed for the rapid assembly of educational software from reusable component tools. This testbed incorporated interactive learning tools from a variety of university, nonprofit, and commercial developers, and hosted decentralized authoring teams consisting of teachers, developers and educational technologists. Within its testbed, the Educational Software Components of Tomorrow (ESCOT) project achieved notable success in (a) producing a large collection of technology-rich learning activities with reuse rates estimated at 90% and (b) scaffolding authoring teams in successful and rewarding collaborative development experiences. Fortunately, since ESCOT was funded as a National Science Foundation research project, we have had time to reflect on the conditions that led to our achievements. In this article, we reflect on the three activities of the project that we believe were most responsible for its success: (1) the selection of a unit of software production (2) the development of a strategy to allow reuse of interoperable software components and (3) the structuring of a distributed, team-based authoring process. We observe that a common characteristic across these activities was reciprocal influence from both the fields of research-based software development and teaching practice.