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NASATalk Contributes to Virtual Learning Communities Issue

Tue Jan 17 2012

The NASATalk team at the Center for Educational Technologies recently published "A Logical Approach to Supporting Professional Learning Communities." It is one of 11 articles featured in Creating, Supporting, Sustaining and Evaluating Virtual Learning Communities: A Special Issue of Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal.

The theme of this special issue is dedicated to creating, building, supporting, sustaining and evaluating virtual learning communities (VLCs) using emerging technologies. Authoring the article was Dr. Laurie Ruberg, associate director of the Center for Educational Technologies and leader of the NASATalk project; Dr. Meri Cummings, science resource teacher; Dr. Debbie Piecka, educational researcher and instructional designer; Chris Ruckman, computer programmer; and Ralph Seward, computer programmer.

According to the abstract of the article, "Collaborative knowledge sharing requires that dialogues successfully cross organizational barriers and information silos. Successful communication in person or in a virtual community involves a willingness to share ideas and consider diverse viewpoints. This research examines a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content management system called NASATalk, which offers public and private blog posts, file sharing, asynchronous discussion, and live chat services. The service is designed to provide a virtual environment where educators can share ideas, suggestions, successes, and innovations in STEM teaching and learning activities. This study features qualitative data from STEM education groups that helped extend the design of the NASATalk Web 2.0 collaborative tools and features. The analysis shows that the context, e-collaborative tools, integration strategies, and outcomes varied, but also contributed additional space, time, tools, integration strategies, and outcomes through the virtual collaborative learning environment. This study is designed to inform the STEM education community as well as those offering virtual community resources and tools of the added value of using virtual communities to help STEM educators work together in collaborative, virtual environments to discuss ways they can improve their instruction and student performance."

As Xun Ge, guest editor of this special issue, explains, "It is truly interesting and exciting to see such a collection with a wide range of topics and from a group of authors with diverse background and disciplines practicing and researching virtual learning communities."

The Table of Contents for the e-journal allows anyone to download individual articles contained in this special issue on virtual communities.

NASATalk is an online collaborative that highlights STEM opportunities available through NASA's Aerospace Education Services Project (AESP), Digital Learning Network (DLN), NASA Explorer Schools, and Electronic Professional Development Network (ePDN) projects.