NY, Utah educators get $1 mil NSF grant for OpenSim

Press release: NYIT Receives $1 Million Grant from the National Science Foundation

Project to Enable Teachers to Use Information and Communications Technologies in the Classroom

New York, N.Y.  – New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) was awarded with a grant for $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a collaborative, interdisciplinary project with Utah State University that will allow teachers in New York and Utah to use information and communications technologies (ICT) as cognitive tools for engaging students in scientific inquiry.

The purpose of this project, “Collaborative Research—Cyber-enabled Learning: Digital Natives in Integrated Scientific Inquiry Classrooms,” is to determine the professional development needed to make teachers comfortable with multi-user simulations and communications. Principal investigators at NYIT and Utah State University will lead comprehensive professional development programs to educate teachers in ways to use ICT tools effectively in classroom instruction to elevate learning experiences for students, diminish the gap between formal and informal learning, and improve student outcomes. The project is awarded under the NSF Discovery Research (DR K-12) Program, which was implemented for student and teacher learning of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.

Dr. Shiang-Kwei Wang, an associate professor in NYIT’s School of Education, will lead this project throughout New York with Dr. Hui-Yin Hsu, assistant professor of education, and Dr. Lisa Runco, professor of life sciences. Dr. David Todd Campbell, assistant professor of science education at Utah State University, will lead the project in Utah.

“This award supports us to practice research-based pedagogies in the K-12 classrooms, enhance New York City teachers’ science and technology literacy, and cultivate students’ 21st-century skills,” said Dr. Wang. “It is a great interdisciplinary collaboration between the education and science departments at NYIT, and with the science education department at Utah State University. We will work closely to develop learning activities that integrate scientific inquiry-based learning and new literacy skills through cognitive tools approach. Teachers will learn the technology that our digital natives are already familiar with, and integrate these technologies to motivate students’ learning in science classrooms.”

Within the first year of the five-year project, principle investigators will develop four modules that meet the science standards in New York and Utah and will educate teachers in both states to become teacher leaders and advisors, who will then develop additional modules. Then, cohorts of teachers will be provided with professional development using OpenSimulator 3D Application Server (OpenSim), an open source, modular, expandable platform used to create simulated 3-D spaces with customizable terrain, weather, and physics. This technology provides teachers with an opportunity to demonstrate the level of planning and preparation needed to create modules.

This five-year project, commencing in September 2010, has an expected total award of $1 million.

The NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science, and to advance national health, prosperity, and welfare. The NSF supports research conducted by America’s colleges and universities in many fields, including mathematics, computer science, and social sciences.

About NYIT
New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees in more than 90 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has more than 15,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, 85,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit nyit.edu.