Reflection: High Quality Task Digital Science Notebook - Section 1: Engage

 

The digital science notebook could revolutionize the notebook for 21st Century scientists. While I recognize many great opportunities associated with the digital science notebook, there are certainly limitations too. For some background on digital science notebooks, try these Online Science Notebook Resources. One caveat I would like to note is that I believe the digital science notebook could completely replace a traditional science notebook. However, I have reservations due to the following limitations. Rather than creating this list as a "Debbie Downer" list of reasons why not to try digital science notebooks, I mean it as a reflection of possible problems that can be solved with creative strategic thinking.

A few of the limitations I've recognized are:

1) Technology constraints: online digital notebooks work best when the classroom is equipped with one-to-one technology that can support web-site editing. Tablets and smartphones are limited in this capacity, as are i Pads. Wireless internet bandwidth has also been a limiting factor for me when attempting to have 30 students accessing online resources simultaneously.

2) Freedom of expression: online digital notebooks rely on typed text or computer-generated drawings. While these factors are not necessarily bad - in fact, typing as a replacement is a great thing for many students - there is a cognitive lapse when students are not writing and drawing on paper. It it possible to maintain hand-written and hand-drawn work by scanning documents into the notebook. Unfortunately, this reminds me of that part of the traditional science notebook that drove me away - wasting time cutting and pasting!

3) Gaps in access: students have a vast array of experience with online tools and access to online tools at home. For these reasons, the online digital notebook has become a class-time activity rather than homework in my class. Because some students are less tech-savvy, the completion rate of notebook work is reduced due to the steep learning curve. I'm exploring peer mentoring and partner writing as strategies that may help alleviate this challenge.

4) Resource availability: when student resources are online, the resources are not quick and ready for reference. The suggestion to, "Quick, check your notes" is now, "Get your Chrome book, sign on, navigate to your site, find the resource, and check your notes". These additional steps get faster with practice, but there are times (like when the wireless internet isn't working), where instruction can get totally frozen by the inability to access necessary resources.

5) Upfront investment: the upfront time investment when setting up sites, setting up technology norms, learning how to edit sites and how to use technology as a form of self-expression is high. The initial learning sessions can be high-anxiety affairs for teacher and students. One way I am dealing with this limitation is by concrete reminders to students and myself, that this is authentic and timely scientific work that will help students live and work in a digital world.

  High Quality Task: Opportunities and Limitations of Digital Science Notebooks
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Digital Science Notebook

Unit 1: Communicating Scientifically
Lesson 4 of 6

Objective: SWBAT create and manage an online science notebook.

Big Idea: Scientists communicate in many ways - including through their online presence. Students join the scientific community online!

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Standards:
Subject(s):
Science, Physical Science, questioning, science notebook, writing, communication, technology, web site
  50 minutes
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