Research news and notes from the National Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Education
Digital Library (NSDL) Program [Back Issues]

The Whiteboard Report
November 2006, Issue #105



NSDL Selected as RefDesk's "Site of the Day"
On November 13, 2006, "The Single Best Source of Facts," selected NSDL as their Site of the Day calling attention to the high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. PC World,114725-page,3/article.html
described in its Best Reference and News Resource section as being, "Full of facts and figures, updated news, and links to sources from phone books to world clocks. The site virtually speed-dials the answers to you." You may suggest that your site be selected as Site of the Day here:

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Classroom Multimedia: WGBH Teachers' Domain
WGBH Teachers' Domain and Thinkronize, developer of netTrekker educational search products, have partnered to provide netTrekker subscribers with access to high quality, multimedia content for teachers and students. Teachers' Domain is a digital library of nearly 1,000 multimedia resources for classroom use and independent study, and offers teachers media-rich tools to present science concepts to students in high-impact, engaging and interactive ways.

"Today's classrooms demand visual materials characterized by relatively short length, limited use of lectures, interactivity, vivid graphics, and contemporary sound," says Denise Blumenthal, Executive Director of Educational Programs at WGBH. Currently 9.3 million students in 16,000 schools across the country use netTrekker. They now have access to materials from Teachers' Domain--NSDL's Pathway to Multimedia Resources for the Classroom.

Teachers' Domain classroom-ready resources include video clips, interactive activities, and images from educational public television shows such as NOVA, ZOOM, and A Science Odyssey. Curricula are aligned and referenced online to state standards in science content. Registration is required.

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Realizing the Role of Digital Repositories in Educational Applications: Supporting Content and Conte
DLESE Teaching Boxes are customizable, digital replicas of the traditional collections that most educators create, store (in boxes), re-use and improve on during their years of teaching. Huda Khan and Keith Maull from DLESE: Digital Library for Earth System Education,
will review development of the Teaching Box Builder application and discuss questions raised with respect to repository integration with real-time Web 2.0 technologies as well as how this application design provides support for educators' creation and adaptation of pedagogical content and context during the Open Repositories 2007 plenary program scheduled for January 23-26, 2007 in San Antonio, Texas.

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Evaluation Practices Vary Across NSDL
In May 2006 NSDL's Core Integration (CI) team and the Educational Impact and Evaluation Standing Committee (EIESC) conducted an online survey of the Principle Investigators of the 204 NSDL projects funded by the NSF since 2000. The two main objectives of the survey were:
--to document the amount and variety of evaluation within NSDL projects
--to make available exemplar evaluation instruments and report excerpts to NSDL projects

The CI/EIESC report on the results of the survey on NSDL projects' evaluation practices has been posted to the NSDL evaluation website at:

The survey found that NSDL projects have good evaluation intentions, and access to evaluation resources, but that many still experience difficulty in carrying out evaluation. It is difficult to identify with precision any one simple barrier to evaluation, with the open-ended responses indicating that evaluation barriers differ significantly between projects, and arise out of complex local interactions between evaluation questions, resources and expertise. The survey thus emphasizes the difficulty in identifying a 'one-size-fits-all' evaluation strategy for NSDL projects.

The survey also emphasized the ongoing need to develop evaluation capacity in NSDL, particularly with regard to developing centralized evaluation resources and services that are easy to find and easy to use for the wider NSDL community. This latter finding is currently shaping ongoing evaluation work by NSDL Core Integration and the EIESC. This work includes: the redesign of the NSDL evaluation wiki to focus on substantive evaluation reports and links to online evaluation resources; providing strategic financial support for the focused development of specific evaluation capacities which can then be made available to the wider NSDL community (including webmetrics and user panels for interviews and usability testing); building partnerships with organizations with substantial evaluation capacity, such Project Tomorrow;
supporting opportunities for regular face-to-face interaction and network-building amongst NSDL evaluators (e.g. at workshops, meetings, etc.); and initiating and supporting evaluation discussions on the EIESC mailing list.

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Add Your Vocabulary to the NSDL Registry
The NSDL Registry provides support for human and machine use and re-use of vocabularies at several levels. Currently, registration of controlled value vocabularies is open. The Registry supports the creation and maintenance of unambiguous URIs for those vocabularies and associated concepts, and provides machine and human readable output for support of vocabulary maintenance in metadata, using the W3C Simple Knowledge Organisation System (SKOS) standard for encoding.

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Listen to NSDL Annual Meeting Presentations
You may download selected NSDL presentations from the Annual Meeting Oct. 18-20, 2007 using iTunes. Contact Sharon Clark
if you encounter any problems.

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Morocco Workshop on Digital Libraries
Government of Morocco, UNESCO, NSF and others on a three-day workshop that addresses the creation of a digital library and digital library infrastructure for North Africa--focusing on digital information for education, science & culture. The workshop will be in Rabat on January 25-27, 2007 (Thurs-Sat).

Organizers are looking for some great case studies--innovative applications of the digital information for education and science. Additional information is on the Fulbright Academy website at
The Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology is a fairly new organization established by alumni of the Fulbright Exchange Program and others interested in science and technology innovation with individual and institutional members worldwide.

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High Tech High
Microsoft has helped build a high-tech high school in a Philadelphia community that serves low-income families. Students at this state-of-the art facility incorporate the latest technologies throughout their curriculum. For example, the classrooms don't have blackboards. They have electronic displays instead, for Internet access, videos, connecting with other classrooms around the world. The school opened with great fanfare on September 7th, when the first students entered the building: 170 West Philadelphia freshmen selected by a lottery from a pool of over 1,500 applicants. A new set of ninth graders will be added each year until the building reaches its capacity of 750.--Online NewsHour: Report,"High School Integrates Technology," November 14, 2006. PBS

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Two New Ways to Find NSDL Resources
The NSDL Searchbox gadget makes it easy to search for NSDL resources directly from your personalized Google homepage. A syndicated NSDL searchbox is also available for inclusion in your own website that will enable your visitors to easily search for quality NSDL science resources.

Published from 2000 to September 2009, NSDL Whiteboard Report Archives provide access to prior issues of the bi-weekly newsletter published by NSDL. To subscribe to current news and information about NSDL, go to the NSDL Community Network site, register as a user, subscribe to and participate in selected features found there. For more information contact Eileen McIlvain