Concord Consortium is an internationally recognized leader in the development of mathematics, science, and technology education that exploits the power of information technologies. We combine research and development with services that stimulate change in formal and informal learning settings, particularly in institutions serving less-advantaged populations. A common thread of technology, innovations, social need, and potential impact runs through all our work. To be able to generate innovations and support their implementation, we have assembled a creative staff with a variety of specialties giving us the capacity to undertake large, complex projects requiring interdisciplinary expertise.
In our view, the greatest impacts of information technologies on education will come through the combination of new technology-based learning tools as applied to re-engineering education, new distribution mechanisms that benefit from the potential of interactive multimedia and data bases, online courses that help teachers and decision makers participate in a lifelong and collaborative learning experience, and innovative curricula that use these technologies. The Concord Consortium maintains ongoing programs in each of these areas and all have international applicability. The Concord Consortium has laboratory, office and accounting facilities needed for educational research and development.
Courses for Teachers and Students: The Concord Consortium is a leader in online courses for students and teachers, using both inquiry-based learning and netseminars. We entered the online education field seven years ago with the NSF-funded International Netcourse Teacher Enhancement Consortium (INTEC), which delivered a graduate-level professional development course to an international audience of 800 secondary teachers. We currently have a major grant to develop and evaluate interactive, online video case studies for professional development in elementary mathematics.
The Virtual High School
Five years ago, Concord created the Virtual High School, an online cooperative that currently offers over 150 high-quality courses to students throughout the world. The VHS is a particularly low-cost model for online courses of interest in developing countries, because it is designed as a cooperative to which each school contributes as much as it uses. Current courses are mostly in English. Because of its international importance, the VHS was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Challenge for education in the 2001 global contest.
To share our expertise in online courses, we have developed a series of "metacourses": online courses for the designers of virtual learning environments and for the facilitators of collaborative and inquiry-based learning. Because these are offered internationally, they are made available both in English and Spanish. We have associated facilitators trained in our approach in the US and in other countries.
Teaching Science and Mathematics
Science Modeling: CC staff has been funded for over 20 years by the National Science Foundation to develop new ways to teach science. The most recently funded projects include the Molecular Workbench, in which students are helped to see the connection between their "macro" world and the micro molecular world, illuminated by a use of computational models, and Biologica and Modeling Across the Curriculum. All of these projects employ both models and "hypermodels." The "hypermodel", which embeds curriculum and assessment functions within a computer-based manipulable model, is a powerful tool for the development of educational activities that embody a model-based learning approach.
The CC's Seeing Math Telecommunications project is developing a series of online interactive video case studies linked to NCTM 2000 standards content and process. To use the resources, online courses are being developed for elementary education teachers, using a strategy that involves administrators, technology coordinators, and staff developers. The project will provide over 10,000 teachers with free access to professional development materials over the next five years.
We are deeply involved with curriculum development in areas that exploit technologies. CC Staff have developed the Kids Network and the Global Laboratory Project and Global Laboratory Curriculum, published in 2001 by Kendall-Hunt, and advised the GLOBE program. The Global Laboratory Project alone was tested for more than 5 years in more than 30 countries and at one point had 120 schools around the world. The curricula all feature student collaboration around network-based data sharing and analysis. We have developed extensive curricula on sustainable development. All these materials have involved students globally and contribute to a better understanding of global interdependence.
CC's Center for Sustainable Futures, under a grant from the Department of Education, has worked intensively with teachers to help them develop teaching materials on issues related to sustainability. This center also works intensively with businesses planning for a sustainable future, and with other countries developing sustainability education.
Technical Development Capacity
Concord Consortium has exceptionally strong technical capacity, including an extensive engineering and software development capacity that has a history of innovation. We have the capacity for digital video production, as well as state of the art web production, both supported by numerous servers and computer operations personnel.
The Concord Consortium has an outstanding team of programmers creating sophisticated educational models, tools, and also control software that has the ability to teach fundamental science concepts through guided exploration while providing embedded assessment of student progress. The software and associated educational materials are being made open source, so that it will be available free internationally for use and regional adaptations.
Key staff at CC has provided international leadership in the use of probeware in support of student inquiry based learning since 1976. CC staff have engineering expertise in electronics, development of probes, interface design, handheld software development, wireless technologies, Internet-based system design, and server functions. We also have extensive educational research capacity, curriculum development expertise, and project management experience. Concord Consortium began a program focused on small portable computers six years ago with the NSF-funded Student Learning in Context (SLiC) project, one of the first large-scale efforts to explore the educational potential of small computers equipped with probeware.
The Concord Consortium currently has several grants underway that involve probes and handheld computers in SMET (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology) education. When used with handheld computers, probeware can give learners unparalleled opportunities for learning through exploration and discovery. The low-cost, portability, and ruggedness of these devices makes them very attractive in developing countries. We have expertise adapting these devices for educational purposes; we produce and adapt SMET curricula that benefits from probeware.
Capacity Through Collaborations
Concord has extensive contacts throughout the educational research and development community that represents deep human and programmatic resources that can be drawn upon for international programs.
HighWired.com is an online educational service provider that Concord now operates. This service provides free tool-based software and dissemination services to over 14,000 high school teachers in member schools.
Concord is a founding member of the NSF Center for Innovation in Learning Technologies, a large, decentralized research and development effort that also includes SRI, Berkeley, and Vanderbilt. Through this Center, Concord is developing and studying the educational impact of the latest developments in collaboration netware, ubiquitous computing, and network-based evaluation.
Concord is also a founding member of the Center for Assessment and Evaluation of Science Learning, together with WestEd, UCLA, Stanford, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Lab. This is a decentralized, NSF-funded center focused on innovations in evaluation.