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Grant Title: Learning on Demand--Using Networks for Integrating School and Workplace Learning
Sponsor: National Science Foundation
Gerhard Fischer, Michael Eisenberg, and Hal Eden
Period of Support: August 1994 - August 1995
Supplement to:
Mastering High-Functionality Computer Systems by Supporting Learning on Demand



Since we submitted the original proposal in January 1992, numerous exciting new research opportunities have developed. In the last two years,

  1. our focus on learning on demand has gained widespread attention and initial research efforts have generated a variety of new research questions,
  2. we have created a strong working relationship with the Science and Technology Laboratory of NYNEX allowing us to explore the Integration of School and Workplace Learning , and
  3. the College of Engineering at CU Boulder has created plans for the development of the Integrated Teaching Laboratory (a $10 million facility financed by the State of Colorado, student fees, and private donors) to fundamentally revitalize undergraduate education emphasizing a learning-on-demand approach.

Goal and Objectives of this NIE supplement

We received additional funds to explore the following conjectures:

The research for this supplement exploring (1) the reconceptualization of learning as a life-long process, (2) the integration of school and workplace learning, (3) the development of conceptual frameworks and support mechanisms for communities of users having different knowledge and skills and being separated in time and space, and (4) the exploitation of the unique potential of networking infrastructures to achieve these objectives.

The technical focus of the project is on the creation of instrumental versions of computationally based learning environments that are simultaneously open enough to allow workers and learners to pursue their own tasks and the same time provide support in the cases of breakdowns and opportunities for learning new things relevant to the task at hand. In doing so, we seek to establish the right mix between prescriptive (e.g., curricula, intelligent tutoring systems, structured communication) and permissive technology (e.g., learning on demand, self-exploration, learning on the job).

Application Domain

The application domain of our research is the creation and use of high-functionality software applications that can be mastered (as argued in detail in the original proposal) only by a learning-on-demand approach supporting the incremental acquisition of expertise. This supplement will extend our exploration to the value added by the right kind of distributed expertise made accessible through a tele-infrastructure. The technological infrastructure in support of learning on demand will be extended by a human back-up structure (community of users, distant learning, and distant mentoring, as explored by our partner in the DIME (Distributed Intelligent Multimedia Education) project). Software activities are ideally suited for NIE investigations because the artifacts already "live" inside the electronic world.

Expected Results

In addition to the exploration of the two conjectures C[1] and C[2], the proposed research is working to (1) demonstrate the importance of "learning on demand" in a workplace environment, (2) scale-up and broaden our effort substantially by extending our working relationship with the Science and Technology Center of NYNEX, and (3) frame future work by ourselves and others for the NIE program.

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