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

The Whiteboard Report
October 2005, Issue #82



Four Pathways, Seven Services and Two Targeted Research Projects Share NSF- NSDL Awards for 2005
Four Pathways, Seven Services and Two Targeted Research Projects Share NSF- NSDL Awards for 2005 PATHWAYS

Pathway for K-Gray Engineering Education
The K-Gray Engineering Education Pathway is the engineering "wing" of the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). The Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado at Boulder, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Duke University, and University of California-Berkeley are collaborating to provide a comprehensive engineering portal for high-quality teaching and learning resources in engineering, computer science, information technology and engineering technology. Project goals are to: 1) merge NEEDS and TeachEngineering into a unified K-Gray engineering educational digital library, 2) significantly grow high quality resources in the NSDL Engineering Pathway in a sustainable way, 3) align the unified curricular materials with appropriate undergraduate and K-12 educational standards, 4) grow the participation of content providers and users, 5) enhance quality control and review protocols for Engineering Pathway content, and 6) create a nonprofit strategy and partnership for the sustainability of the Engineering Pathway. PI contacts: Michael Mooney, Jaquelyn Sullivan, Martha Cyr, Joseph Tront, and Alice Agogino.

ComPADRE Pathway to Physics and Astronomy Education
Through a partnership of authors and organizations ComPADRE acts as a steward for the educational resources in the NSDL used by broad communities in physics and astronomy by creating and sustaining a network of collections that provide learning resources and interactive learning environments. The ComPADRE Pathway supports teachers and learners by providing both the content and services needed to enhance physics and astronomy education on the Web. ComPADRE is a network of Web-based content collections serving specific communities in physics and astronomy, including teachers of introductory courses at the high school or college levels, undergraduate physics and astronomy majors, researchers in physics education, societies of minority physicists, teachers and students in upper-level courses, and life-long learners. These collections, built by and for the communities, provide links to high-quality learning resources available on the Web and host resources that would not otherwise have a reliable Web presence. Resources in the collections are approved by editors before becoming available, are organized specifically for each community, and undergo a formal peer review process for some collections. PI contact: Bruce Mason.

BiosciEdNet (BEN) Collaborative Pathway
The BiosciEdNet (BEN) Collaborative is expanding its stewardship role for professional societies and coalitions in the biological sciences through an NSDL Pathway project that provides resources, tools, and professional development for educators at the high school and undergraduate levels, including community colleges. BEN serves as a catalyst for professional societies or coalitions that seek to build their own education-focused digital libraries or contribute resources to the BEN portal, and that want to collaborate on effective pedagogy, authentic assessment, and development of multidisciplinary biological sciences resources. PI contact: Yolanda George.

Materials Digital Library Pathway: Hub for Materials Education and Research
In this project a consortium of organizations is building an information infrastructure on the foundation of the current Materials Science Digital Library collection (MatDL) and assuming stewardship of significant content and services to support the integration of education and research in materials science (MS). Additionally, this Pathways project is facilitating the dissemination of resources generated by government-funded MS collaborations. The MatDL partnership includes information/library scientists and materials scientists affiliated with government and research/teaching institutions: National Institute of Standards and Technology, Kent State University, MIT, University of Michigan, Iowa State University, and Purdue University. To multiply the impact of NSF-supported materials efforts, this network of collaborations is being extended to include several related NSF initiatives: Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Teams, Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers, and International Materials Institutes. PI contact: Laura Bartolo.


An NSDL Registry: Supporting Interoperable Metadata Distribution
This Services track project is a collaboration of investigators from the University of Washington and Cornell University who are developing and deploying a metadata registry service to complement the NSDL Central Metadata Repository. The registry is based on the open-source Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) Registry application and enables multiple diverse collection providers and other NSDL projects to identify, declare, and publish their metadata schemas (element/property sets) and schemes (controlled vocabularies). PI contact: Diane Hillmann.

Services to Link Opencourseware Repositories and the NSDL
This NSDL Services project is improving the discoverability of course materials that institutions are placing in "opencourseware" repositories. Located at Utah State University this project has three primary tasks: to enable federated searching across distributed institutional sites, to develop a portal to these repositories, and to facilitate harvesting of metadata and course materials by the NSDL. PI contact: Brandon Muramatsu.

Math Forum and would like to use it with their students but need support to do so; and (3) those who find a site like the Math Forum and need support to even think that they could make use of it in their classes. PI contact: Gene Klotz.

Facilitating K-12 Selection in an Annotated Rich Media Library of Animal Behavior
This services project is making the online Macaulay Library which hosts the world's largest collection of animal sounds and animal behavior videos more accessible to many segments of the public and is providing tools to K-12 teachers enabling them to readily incorporate these animal resources into the curriculum. The three principal items resulting from the project activities are: 1. geographic mapping tools overlaying the digital Macaulay Library collection; 2. a collection of voucher specimens that are facilitating teachers in choosing appropriate recordings for inclusion in classroom activities; 3. library users being able to link animal recordings with geographic locations. PI contact: Jack Bradbury.

Pedagogic Services for Digital Libraries
The National STEM Digital Library (NSDL) is providing a growing array of services to improve the effectiveness of its STEM teaching materials to users. This project connects pedagogic materials to teaching materials in digital library collections. It is helping teachers and faculty understand how to use STEM materials in ways that are engaging, interesting, and effective, embodying key principles of teaching and learning. The project is building on a successful example, the Starting Point Digital Library, a design that ensures that seekers of teaching materials also find pedagogic information, and vice versa. A new set of tools is being created to enable other digital libraries to link the pedagogic materials developed by this project to teaching materials in their library while establishing mechanisms for creating a much broader collection of pedagogic materials and examples. PI contact: Cathryn Manduca.

Earth Exploration Toolbook Workshops to Facilitate the Use of Earth Science Data in Education
The Earth Exploration Toolbook is an online resource for teachers and students. It is a collection of computer-based learning activities within the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE). Activities or "chapters" in the EET provide step-by-step instructions for accessing specific data and analyzing it with a software analysis tool to explore issues or concepts in science, technology, and mathematics. EET chapters use a variety of technology tools, including geographic information systems (GIS), image processing programs, spreadsheet applications, and others. EET chapters facilitate access to a wide range of datasets, including Landsat data from NASA, climate-modeling data from EOS-Webster, and earthquake data from the USGS, along with many others. In this project, the use of Earth science data by students is being facilitated through EET Data Analysis Workshops: two-hour professional development experiences for teachers on using the NSDL, DLESE, and an EET chapter. PI contact: Carla McAuliffe.

Professional Development Institutes to Increase Afterschool Educators' Use of the NSDL
In partnership with the California School-Age Consortium (CalSAC), an established statewide after-school leader-training network, this project makes use of new curricular modules and existing STEM resources found in the Exploratorium digital library and the NSDL to create and offer professional development institutes for use by state and regional after school organizations. Professional development institutes consist of four linked components: (1) workshops and seminars, (2) technical assistance, (3) a collegial community of practitioners, and (4) curricular modules that combine NSDL digital resources and tools with inquiry-based, hands-on science activities for after school audiences. Unlike many after school activities, the curricular modules are designed to be academically challenging, science-rich, and youth interest-driven. In addition to workshops for after school leaders and their teaching staff, the project documents the words used by youth and after school educators to search and access the Exploratorium Digital Library, mapping these to scientific vocabularies as metadata to help make NSDL more usable to educators and the underrepresented youth they serve. PI contact: Sherry Hsi.


Customizing Resources for NSDL
One promise of the Internet is educational "mass customization." Thanks to the National Science Digital Library, the opportunity exists to filter millions of resources and customize them for individual learners. This NSDL targeted research project is organizing digital libraries by dimensions that are important to teachers and learners--specifically, cognitive characteristics (cognitive development, spatial and math retrieval skills, reading level), affective characteristics (self-efficacy, motivation, beliefs/attitudes toward the subject), and social characteristics (gender, main language, ethnicity). The investigators hypothesize that customization of resources will result in visitors spending more time in NSDL and students achieving more in-depth learning. As a testbed, the investigators are creating a customized learning environment, "Customized MathForum," within the Math Forum Digital Library, which is one of the most popular instructional digital libraries and has one of the largest communities of users (over a million individuals). PI contact: Beverly Woolf.

Personalization of Content: Bridging the Gap Between NSDL and its Users Through the Course Website
This Targeted Research project aims to investigate and develop technology that allows a college-level course website to be the hub of activity for students and faculty who want access to the National STEM Education Digital Library (NSDL). The end product is a flexible and personalized information-seeking interface that customizes interactions for educators and learners using the NSDL. To provide this functionality seamlessly in the existing NSDL infrastructure and prevailing usage contexts, the project team is: 1. Conducting user studies to learn about student and faculty needs and activities with regard to course websites; 2. Evaluating the composition of context-sensitive services to determine the most common interaction sequences requested by users and to "factor out" the necessary NSDL services that should be composed; and 3. Developing an integrated personalization framework, exploiting the commonality of personalized interaction in various settings and reflecting this commonality in a factored software architecture. PI contact: Manuel Perez.
Related Link:

Coming Soon to Ready-To-Use Education Resources for Specific Audiences
Coming Soon to Ready-To-Use Education Resources for Specific Audiences's goal is to turn information into real knowledge by contextualizing resources for education in the areas of science, math, engineering and technology. The web site serves a broad audience that includes undergraduate, graduate, research, teachers, educators and students.'s "education for life audience" continues to be defined by users in surprising ways that include use cases from students and teachers as well as corporate executives.

In redeveloping the Core Integration team, consultants, and community members focused on improving the user experience by providing the shortest route to connect users with what they seek and offering multiple ways to find that information quickly.

The new will be released on Oct. 20. The web site:
-- Allows users to self identify by audience on the homepage in the following categories: K12 Teachers; Librarians; NSDL Library Builders; University Faculty, and; First Time Users.
-- Highlights "Top Picks," "Resources of Interest," "Using NSDL," "Research Articles," Newsfeeds," and an "Events Calendar"--exhibits crafted by editors for each audience group.
-- Provides a one-click connection to browse by science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics from the homepage.

Please contact Karen Henry ( for more information.
Related Link:

STEMEd Caucus Steering Committee Highlights NSDL Workforce Issues Presentation
NSDL Director Kaye Howe concluded the Sept. 7, 2005 presentation in Washington, D.C. by saying that, "STEM content is no longer scarce." The economic future of the nation is dependent on finding new ways to leverage educational content that will enable citizens to seize STEM work force opportunities. NSDL brings content together with educational context to deliver useful STEM materials to teachers that meet students' needs and inspire them to achieve. Press release here:
Related Link:

Sustainability Vignette: Federation of Earth Science Information Partners
Sustainability Vignette: Federation of Earth Science Information Partners By Dick Wertz (Foundation for Earth Science) and Howard Burrows (ESIP Federation)
The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (Federation) was established to build collaborative connections between data centers, science centers, and application centers in 1995. The 83 ESIP Federation Partners hold a major portion of the public and private remote sensing data and analysis tools now available in the Earth sciences. The Federation is developing a web-based portal, the Earth Information Exchange, to consolidate information resources in one place and provide users with basic GIS visualization tools. Read about ESIP's strategy of "Sustainability through federation" at
Related Link:

NSDL Featured on House Democratic Science Committee Web Site
House Democrats on the Science Committee have put a link on their Web site ( intended to help teachers and students access federal science and mathematics resources.

The link, "Science Education and You," takes visitors to model lesson plans organized by grade level. The plans and other resources come from the Department of Energy, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. NSDL and the NSDL Middle School Portal are listed here: AskNSDL is also listed:
Related Link:

NSDL iVia Project Wins IMLS Grant
Steve Mitchell, iVia/Data Fountains Projects Coordinator, has announced that University of California, Riverside, CA will receive a 1M grant from the Institute for Museums and Library Services (IMLS) for "iVia Research on Automated Metadata Generation Services and Tools." The IMLS announcement can be read here.

Libraries wish to provide users with searchable databases, catalogs, indexes, and other tools to enable information discovery, but using human labor to create these resources is not feasible on a large scale in today's vast online environment. The University of California Riverside Library will conduct research aimed at producing better machine-based, automatically generated metadata to improve the search and retrieval of online content. This project will refine and augment services and accompanying software tools supported with previous IMLS funding in order to expand their automated and semi-automated textual data mining, data extraction, and metadata generation capabilities. The project will create free open source software and will address organizational and sustainability issues relating to metadata generation service(s) for digital libraries. Contact Steve Mitchell for more information.
Related Link:

NSDL Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker Announced
NSDL Annual Meeting Keynote Speaker Announced Dr. Larry Johnson will open the NSDL Annual Meeting November 15-18 at the Westin Tabor Center Hotel in Denver, CO. Dr. Johnson is Chief Executive Officer of the New Media Consortium (NMC), an international consortium of some 200 colleges, universities, museums, research centers, and learning organizations dedicated to using new technologies to inspire, energize, stimulate, and support learning and creative expression. He is an acknowledged expert on the effective application of information technology in higher education, and has authored a number of books, monographs, and articles on that topic. Dr. Johnson has nearly 25 years of experience in the higher education arena, having served in roles from faculty to dean to senior executive and CEO. His last college position was as president and CEO of Fox Valley Community College, in Appleton, Wisconsin. Visit: for more information. A demonstration from San Francisco Museum of Modern Art can be viewed here:

All registrations must be received by October 14. Please note that the deadline for hotel reservations is also October 14. Rates and availability will not be guaranteed after this date. Participant and poster registration forms for the 2005 Annual Meeting: Examining NSDL's Impacts are available at the Annual Meeting website ( Contact Susan Van Gundy ( with questions.
Related Link:

Showcase Your Project: Call for NSDL Project Brochures and Fliers
Conference season is coming back into full swing and with that the need for brochures and fliers for NSDL Projects. Send your materials as soon as possible to: NSDL, attn: Robert Payo, 3300 Mitchell Lane, FL 4, Boulder, CO 80301. This is a great opportunity to showcase new features on your site and co-brand your materials with the NSDL logo. Check out the templates for fliers and posters that you can download off of the community page: For more information, contact Robert Payo (

Schedule of upcoming conferences where NSDL will be exhibiting:
Oct 15-17, Association of Science and Technology Centers (Richmond, VA)
Oct 26-28, National Science Board Association T + L2 (Denver)
Nov 10-12, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Regional Conference (Denver)
Related Link:



"Brevity is a Great Charm of Eloquence"
"Brevity is a Great Charm of Eloquence" presents their new feature "Amazon Shorts" in the "Books" section with the quote above from Marcus Tullius Cicero. Read Imagining Abrupt Climate Change: Terraforming Earth by Kim Stanley Robinson, or We Can Build You: Transplantation, Stem Cells, and the Future of Our Bodies: First in a series of articles on the 21st Century biomedical revolution by Gregory Benford and Michael Rose, for $.49 a pop, or contribute your own short fiction or non-fiction in six areas including science and science fiction.
Related Link:

If you found yourself needing an old biology textbook and couldn't locate your battered copy from college, you'd have a few options. You could go to a university bookstore and snag a used copy; you could drop a few dollars on a new one at; or you could track down some old college chums and ask for their copies. But if Jimmy Wales and his colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation have anything to say about it, you could have another way to go--the Wikibooks project. It's their attempt to create a comprehensive, kindergarten-to-college curriculum of textbooks that are free and freely distributable, based on an open-source development model. Created in the same mold as the Wikipedia project--the open-source encyclopedia that lets anyone create or edit an article and that now has nearly 747,000 entries in English alone--Wikibooks is still in its earliest stages. Cnet
Related Link:

Four Technologies that will Transform PR: The Strategic Use of Blogs Wikis, RSS, and Podcasts
Register for a teleconference that explains how new technologies of the "Social Web" are enabling communications and marketing professionals to engage with key constituencies as never before. Four senior PR practitioners discuss new-media strategies as they apply to blogs, wikis, RSS, and podcasts. Find out why you should make these new community-building tools an integral part of your communications program and learn how to implement them.
Related Link:

John Henrik Clarke Africana Library
The John Henrik Clarke Africana Library is a special library located within Cornell University's Africana Studies and Research Center offering many of its resources online. Its collection of [18,600] volumes focuses on the social and political dimensions of the history and culture of peoples of African ancestry. Included here are basic books, complete collections of works of important writers, and highly selective research materials that complement the collections housed in Cornell University's research libraries. The Africana Library's documentation collection contains valuable primary source materials, including copies of rare monographs, manuscripts, newspapers, and journal publications on microfilm and microfiche. Those resources focus on especially important material on the American civil rights and Black Power movements.
Related Link:

Nearly One in Three Web Users Visit Newspaper Sites - Report
Online newspaper readership continued to climb in the second quarter of 2005, reaching a peak audience of 43.7 million unique visitors during the month of May, representing nearly 30 percent of all adults online in that period-the highest monthly total in 18 months of tracking. For the second quarter, the audience of online newspapers represented a reach of nearly 29 percent, an increase of 0.15 percent over the previous quarter and a 2 percent rise over the same quarter in 2004, according to a Nielsen//NetRatings report for NAA. Compared with May, page views per person were up, averaging more than 40 for the quarter, the average monthly time spent per person averaged greater than 37 minutes. For comparison's sake, "current events and global news" from NetRatings' "News and Information" category averaged more than 79 minutes and 14 visits per person. Such news consumption fell behind only online gaming, stock trading and e-mail as the most engaging activity for Internet users. The Digital Edge, August 2005.
Related Link:


Guess How Many Pages Google Indexes?
Guess How Many Pages Google Indexes? You may have noticed that the number of Web pages Google is searching is missing from their home page. According to the Google Web log of Sept. 26, 2005 the, "Latest expansion of our index makes Google more than 3 times larger than any other search engine." Google would like users to weigh in on just how many pages that is. Guidelines to help users make comparisons are at Google's chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt suggests that users "do a little taste test," before guessing.
Related Link:

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