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

The Whiteboard Report
April 2006, Issue #94



Introducing New Undergraduate Faculty to NSDL
An introduction to NSDL resources were featured as part of a workshop entitled "Using Computational Science in Biology and Chemistry Classrooms" given by Dr. Robert Panoff, PI Shodor Education Foundation, for SPIRE post-doctoral fellowship program participants. Typically SPIRE fellows are researchers and educators engaged in two years of research who serve as a visiting faculty members at minority serving universities where they teach and develop courses in the biology or natural science departments.

Panoff observed that the workshop was particularly well received by fellows who had already taught classes or were currently teaching classes. They could readily see how computational tools would help them explain concepts to their students. Participants who were seeing NSDL for the first time were asked, "How likely is it that you will use the resources available in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) in your classrooms?" 24 out of 25 participants expressed a very positive reaction and that they would likely use NSDL in the future.
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NSDL at NSF Lecture Series Features The FunWorks Collection
The FunWorks project from Education Development Center, Inc., was featured in a March talk at NSF about NSDL. The lecture series provides NSF program officers from a variety of NSF divisions and program areas with information about NSDL. FunWorks project director, Sarita Nair-Pillai, explained the FunWorks' role as a career exploration digital library for middle school aged youth, its user-centered design approach that involved working with over 300 young people across the country, ways in which the collection integrates content from the NSDL, and its plans for future expansion. For more information about the FunWorks go to, or contact
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Let's Talk About Sustainability at JCDL
At the Joint Conference for Digital Libraries (JCDL), June 11-15, the NSDL Sustainability Committee would like to engage digital library projects in a conversation on sustainability. Given the significance of sustainability to all funded projects, the Committee has been developing a Decision-Tree Exercise and identifying related resources for projects to use as a self-study guide to determine which of several possible directions and options for sustainability might best suit their particular needs and preferences.

The Committee would like to gather feedback from projects on this Decision-Tree Exercise prior to its full roll-out in targeted workshops and the NSDL Annual Meeting next October, so we will hold an informal walk-through and discussion of the Decision Tree at JCDL.

If your are going to JCDL in Chapel Hill and think you might like to join us, please send Liz Liddy, Co-Chair of the Sustainability Committee, an email at along with the title of your digital library project. More details will follow, but for now, we are looking for a sense of the level of interest among projects in taking part in this conversation.
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Shodor Makes Work, Work
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation understands that good things happen "When Work Works" which is why they sponsor awards in 16 communities for "Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility." The 2006 Durham, NC winners of this prestigious award that included NSDL computational science pathway the Shodor Education Foundation, not only represent companies that offer excellent workplace flexibility policies and practices, but they also represent organizations that use flexibility as a strategic business tool to benefit business and employees. From the description of Shodor's achievement:

"With almost universal connectivity, Shodor provides each staff member with a Mac PowerBook to enable them to work from home as needed. They strongly believe that just because someone is working doesn't mean they have to be in the office. All of Shodor's staff can take advantage of both flex-time and comp-time to balance family needs and other interests. The sharing staff rotate as needed to provide the office coverage needed to supervise interns and apprentices. Shodor works because the people at Shodor want it to work, and because it fits."
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Initiative Launched to Share NSDL Evaluation Techniques
NSDL Core Integration and the Evaluation and Educational Impact Standing Committee have launched an effort to document the amount and variety of evaluation that has taken place within NSDL projects in order to make available exemplar evaluation instruments and report excerpts, and to survey project PIs about evaluation in their projects. Both the survey, as well as submission of instruments and reports, will be online. The volume, variety, and barriers to evaluation, as well as access to exemplar instruments may be very useful information for individual projects, NSDL as a whole, and NSF. The results of this initiative will be presented at the NSDL Annual Meeting and other appropriate venues and be represented in the NSDL 2006 Annual Report.

After May 1 a general call by survey and by personal contact will go out asking NSDL projects to submit any evaluation instrument or report that has been developed or used, to a central web site by the end of May. The anonymity of projects and authors are guaranteed. Mick Khoo will prepare a summary of what, and how much has been received for a discussion about what might constitute exemplar evaluation materials at the EIESC meeting at JCDL on Sunday, June 11 at 7 pm. Please contact Chairperson Laura Bartolo if you are interested in attending this dinner meeting as soon as possible. The exemplar materials will be made available in time for the NSDL Annual Meeting in October after asking permission of the author(s)/project(s).
Related Link: Feature Watch--Pay Per Email?
Read "School District or Spammer--AOL, Yahoo Propose Pay-for-email Model" by James Burger at
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ArtStor Lessons Learned: Case Study in Digital Library Decision-Making
The Research Libraries Group (RGL) newsletter RLG DigiNews focuses on digital imaging and preservation issues. The April issue features an article about ArtStor, a digital library of images intended for educational and scholarly use founded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2004. Some of the lessons learned analyzed by author Max Marmor are also significant for NSDL digital libraries including: the importance, when it comes to digital images, of providing tools for teaching and research; the ramifications of such a resource for "buy vs. build" decisions on the part of libraries and other campus entities; the trade-offs entailed by building valued, "user-driven" collections while also striving to accommodate a strong interest in interoperability with other collections and services, and; the challenge represented by the lack of appropriate assessment metrics for online resources that support both research and classroom teaching.
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New in the Library: Hear About Earth Day On NSDL
This web site features a radio series exploring environmental issues of local, national, and global importance. Tune in to the origins of Earth Day.
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Contribute to AAAS Science Education Pages
AAAS Science magazine and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) are pleased to announce the creation of Science Education pages. This new addition to Science will focus on providing readers with innovative ideas and approaches to scientific education in each month of 2006 showcasing new approaches to teaching that work even in large lecture classes. Other goals are to bring other disciplines, such as physics and computer sciences, together with biology into a single course. Above all, Science Education pages will be designed to increase general interest in, and knowledge about, the subject of science.

As part of the process of creating the Education pages in Science researchers and practitioners are encouraged to participate by contributing innovative ideas and methods to teaching that they may have acquired. Contributors may also discuss aspects of education that they are interested in--science education, the science of education, or the scientific output from an educational project. Your submissions in turn, if accepted will be distributed and utilized via the Science Education pages. For further information regarding the Education pages and how to submit material please contact Aziz Yousuf at
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NSDL Takes Part in Cornell Teacher Professional Day
More than 1,400 educators from throughout central New York State representing pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade instruction came to the Cornell campus on March 24 to participate in more than 125 educational enhancement workshops. Susan Van Gundy in Boulder and Carol Minton Morris in Ithaca used Ready-Talk live web conferencing to explain how to use NSDL resources in classroom instruction to a group of teachers at Cornell Information Science.
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Science in School: Out of the Lab into the Classroom
Europe's first international, multidisciplinary journal for science teaching launched will be published by EIROforum, a partnership between Europe's seven largest intergovernmental research organizations. Science in School will bridge the gap between the worlds of research and schools. One extremely powerful tool to achieve this is the journal's web-based discussion forum that will establish a direct dialogue between science teachers and researchers across national and subject boundaries.

Science in School will appear quarterly online and in print and will feature news about the latest scientific discoveries, teaching materials, interviews with inspiring teachers and scientists, reviews of books, films and websites, suggestions for class trips, training opportunities and many other useful resources for science teachers. Contributors to the first issue include the world-renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sachs, and scientists and teachers from nine countries.
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Tree of Life Web Project
The Tree of Life Web Project (ToL) is a collaborative effort of biologists from around the world. On more than 4000 World Wide Web pages, the project provides information about the diversity of organisms on Earth, their evolutionary history (phylogeny), and characteristics.
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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