Trajectories From Today’s WWW To A Powerful Educational Infrastructure


Roschelle, J., & Pea, R. (1999). Trajectories from today’s WWW to a powerful educational infrastructure. Educational Researcher, 8(5), 22-25.


Two previous Research News and Comment articles in Educational Researcher have examined the potential impact of the World Wide Web (web) in education. Owston (1997) offers a optimistic view of potential benefits of the today’s web, utilizing a framework that emphasizes: (a) making learning more accessible; (b) promoting improved learning; and (c) containing costs. Fetterman (1998) reviews the tools currently available on the web (such as search, video conferencing, and file sharing) and suggests potential uses among educational researchers. Although these articles offer valuable advice about today’s web capabilities, both authors acknowledge that the web is changing rapidly. They do not provide a sense of where the web is going, and how its trajectory of development may more fully meet educational needs. Such prospective information about emerging web technologies is important for the educational research community, and it is our intention to briefly highlight key trajectories of web development for learning communities.

We recently hosted a workshop on “Tools for Learning Communities” under the auspices of the NSF-funded Center for Innovative Learning Technologies (CILT, which is pronounced like “silt”), bringing together 125 leading researchers and developers from a balanced mix of 50 institutions, including universities, nonprofit organizations, corporations and schools. For example, corporate participants included IBM Global Education, Apple Computer, Netscape, Coopers-Lybrand, NetSchools, and Electric Schoolhouse, LLC as well as many smaller firms. Academic and non-profit participants included researchers from the four CILT partner institutions, SRI International, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, and Concord Consortium, as well as organizations, universities and high schools from all over North America. The innovative format of this workshop encouraged rapid information exchange, followed by brainstorming about educational issues and opportunities, and concluded with the formation of cross-institutional teams to seek joint innovation. Over the course of two days, the participants generated a wealth of ideas about the limitations of today’s web, its near-term trajectories, and potential educational advances. We share a summary of those ideas here.

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