Museums and the Web 2005

Reports and analyses from around the world are presented at MW2005.

Achievement of Student Cognitive Growth: Results of Integrating Interactive Museum Videoconferencing

Dianna L. Newman, University at Albany/SUNY, Albany, New York, Patricia Barbanell, John Falco, Schenectady City Schools, Schenectady, New York USA


Museums throughout the world are struggling to design strategies that will allow for interface with new technologies. At the same time, research-based outcomes in K-12 education have become increasingly important. This paper overviews the process designed by Project VIEW to develop and implement interactive videoconferencing experiences and summarizes methodologies and outcomes related to student learning. For the past five years, Project VIEW staff have collaborated with over 45 museums and over 500 school districts to develop, validate, and implement a template for creating and using interactive standards-based videoconferencing programs for use in K-12 classrooms. The core of the VIEW model is the role of collaborative partnerships between museum providers and teachers in selecting and developing curricula and supporting materials that stress inquiry-based learning, higher-level thinking, and application of skills. Validation of the outcomes has utilized a multi-prong approach involving input from multiple stakeholders across multiple settings and times. Findings indicate that students who are involved in interactive, inquiry-based videoconferencing with external providers evidence improved inquiry, application skills, and higher levels of cognition.

Keywords: videoconferencing, K-12 settings, cognitive outcomes, student learning, curriculum development

The Need for Videoconferencing

With the expanding availability of broadband technologies, the technological readiness of K-12 schools has developed rapidly (Schutte, 1998; Wise, 2002). The availability of these resources has created a need for professional development that will ensure a cadre of teachers who are literate in the use and value of technologies and who can develop and implement standards-based curriculum that integrates technology into the learning process. As teachers are exposed to the capacities of new technologies, they have an increasing need for interactive curricula that support the inquiry-based and constructivist-based learning outcomes embedded in current national and state standards. This need, further fueled by NCLB mandates stressing higher levels of cognition and use of inquiry supported by external resources, has led to a widespread exploration of videoconferencing as a way to extend curriculum beyond the school walls.

Museums have been in the forefront of authentic providers who are responding to the K-12 teachers' needs. A confluence of events has motivated these institutions and organizations to seek and support methods that will allow them to expand their program offerings via digital technologies. Factors such as the rising costs of travel to museums, restrictions on field visits in schools due to '9/11' related security concerns, and budgetary restrictions resulting from increased testing mandates, as well as the expanding capacity of the technology, are driving efforts to find alternative means of sharing providers' resources and expertise with students and teachers.  As museums begin to engage in creating interactive video capacity, they have recognized two core needs: 1) for assistance in creating high quality programs to meet standards-based curriculum requirements that interface with providers' mission, and 2) for vehicles to market their programs to the schools.

In response to these overlapping needs of schools and providers, Project VIEW the Virtual Information Education Web sought and obtained a US Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant, and as a result has spent the past five years creating a context for sustainable use of point-to-point videoconferencing between external providers and K-12 classrooms. During this time, VIEW has created a model for development and implementation of curriculum, a means of training teachers to use and integrate videoconferences into standard curriculum, and a series of curriculum units and integration plans that are classroom ready. As part of this process, Project VIEW has supported an evaluation plan for validating the curriculum and the integration of videoconferencing and is conducting a series of studies documenting the outcome of the process for both providers and schools. This paper begins with an overview of the Project VIEW model of developing and implementing integrated interactive museum videoconferencing programs, emphasizing the roles of the contributing partners, and then presents methodologies and findings of research pertaining to student learning.

Developing Standards Based Videoconferences: The Project VIEW Model

The VIEW Model is designed to fulfill the promise of interactive technology in K-12 classrooms. It uses needs analysis, mission integration, and collaborative partnerships between K-12 educators and outside content providers to develop videoconference-supported curriculum that promotes higher cognitive functioning among students. The collaborative partnership formed in the development of this technology-integrated curriculum is the foundation of the VIEW Model. Partner members include school representatives – teachers (selected in school-based teams representing at least two to three academic areas) and their administrator(s), museum specialists – a museum educator and other museum experts (curator, director) as needed, technology support specialists, and a curriculum design/development facilitator.

The Role Of Partners In Project VIEW

According to Fullan (2001), the roles of partners in a collaborative process serve a variety of personal, organizational, and professional goals. Their inclusion may be to exchange resources, to serve their commercial and marketing goals, or to advocate for models and agendas that support their philosophy. Under Project VIEW, definitive partnerships are established such that the emphasis is on creating a Knowledge Community or a network of practitioners who  encompass, acknowledge, and respect multiple skills and competencies (Sallis and Jones, 2002). The inclusion of all stakeholders' views, values, and skills is based on a democratic philosophy of leadership and decision-making (McDonald, 1977; Rawls, 1971). Consequently, The Project VIEW Model seeks to create an environment that is aligned with the missions and educational goals of both museums and schools, and involves a constructivist approach in designing materials. The VIEW model assumes, and seeks to foster, an equal standing of, and mutual respect for, each participant's competencies and values and requires full participation and consideration of all viewpoints. As a result, an important component of the VIEW development process is the facilitation of partnerships between providers and educators in which participants understand and appreciate the knowledge and competencies that each brings to the project. For instance, while museums universally seek to serve the needs of the community, including students, they also have a responsibility to reflect the curatorial and interpretive mission of their institution. On the other hand, schools have a mission to ensure that all students achieve the learning standards, perform to their highest ability, and are exposed to the highest quality resources. Development of this mutual understanding and respect establishes a trust that each participant's contribution is important, valued, and appreciated, laying the groundwork for a shared vision of a product that will enhance the missions and goals of all involved. Use of a constructivist approach to curriculum design and instruction (Cole, John-Steiner, Scribner & Souberman, 1978; Woolfolk, 2004) supports the self-directed functioning of the partnerships. Using an interactive, participant-centered approach, the VIEW process allows all partners to contribute equally to all stages of development, thereby resulting in alignment of visions, delineation of a common sense of purpose, and shared dedication to the importance of the project. Establishment of these unique partnerships also lays the groundwork for long-term program sustainability by creating diversity in the program consumer base.

The Teachers' Role

According to Fullan (1999, 2001), several key elements must be present when assembling collaborative partnerships that have the capacity to create high quality curriculum. These include enthusiasm, energy, and hope, followed by commitment. Under the VIEW model, the presence of these elements translates into essential requirements that underlay the formation of the development team. First, and foremost, it is required that each team have a strong contingent of professional educators - teachers, content specialists and/or librarian media specialists -involved in development. The role of these stakeholders is to make sure that the needs of the teachers and students are met and that the curriculum and videoconference align with academic standards. It is essential that these school representatives perceive a need for and value the proposed curriculum, and that they posses the skills (technology literacy and curriculum development experience) required to assist in developing high-level educational materials. If possible, it is best if these key education participants are a building-based team of collaborating teachers who are already engaged in a cooperative relationship and who share a common knowledge base. The participants should represent natural school structures that reflect typical building level organizational patterns. If multi-disciplinary learning is a goal of the project, teachers should represent the intersecting content areas. It also is important that teachers are perceived to have referent and expert power by their peers (French and Raven, 1960). In other words, it is important that they have established track records of delivering high quality instruction to students, an acknowledged understanding of student developmental and learning theories, and experience with techniques for engaging students in advanced learning, as well as familiarity with established and required curricula and learning standards, and the respect of their peers and supervisors.

The School Administrators' Role

To be successful, the partnerships also need the support and involvement of school administrators. Their role is not only to support the involvement of teachers but also to ensure the necessary capacity to engage in the videoconference development and delivery. Key duties include assistance in selection and release of teachers, oversight of the installation and maintenance of technical equipment, support for the use of external resources as part of the educational process, and the leadership needed for school-wide dissemination of the programs. In addition, by engaging the administrator in the process, institutional support for systems change is strengthened. Administrators will be able to gauge the full impact of participation on the staffing and the delivery of instruction to students, and will be able to support resources that result in sustainability. Administrators also bring valuable content expertise related to standards-based learning and assessment to the actual development of videoconference programs and can articulate cross-classroom and building issues more clearly than can educators who focus on one grade or one content area.

The Museum Professionals' Role

Other fundamental members of the VIEW partnership include museum representatives such as educators, curators, and administrators. The museum educators are core partners in the development team. Their role is to bring the interpretive mission of the museum into the process and the resulting curriculum. Because these educators usually will be charged with delivery of the videoconference program and will work directly with schools, they should come to the partnership with an understanding of K-12 educational goals, the benefits of technology and videoconferencing, and, if possible, experience in the delivery of videoconferences. It is also helpful if the museum educators have experience partnering with schools because communication among the members of the partnership is crucial in creating effective videoconference products. Museum educators also need a working knowledge of the Museum's collections and the scope of their potential interpretive uses. This knowledge serves as the directional beacon as the program is developed.

Curators and museum administrators also are important to the partnership. Their role is to ensure that the program content is accurate and that the program is aligned with museum missions. Their oversight and support ensures enhanced delivery of materials and the presence of both content and technological resources necessary to ensure high quality programming. Administrators also provide an institutional context in which the programs can be delivered and convey the mission and resulting systemic changes to patrons and funders.

Technology Support Staff's Role

A structure of technical support is essential to creating and maintaining capacity for videoconferencing among schools and museums. The role of technical support staff is to provide transparent connectivity at both the school and the museum setting, such that the success of a project rests on the program content and the interactions of videoconference participants, not on the process of communication. To facilitate technical support, needs assessments of school and museum settings may be necessary to identify equipment and connectivity issues and the required support services. On-site technical staff at both the provider and school site also may need to receive training in videoconferencing and facilitation of connectivity. It is key that technical support staff be skilled enough to deal with multiple modes of connectivity and communication so that they can accommodate diverse methods of connectivity.

The Curriculum Specialist/Development Facilitator's Role

A curriculum specialist/development facilitator is key to bringing a videoconference-supported curriculum project to successful completion. The role of the facilitator is to guide the process through development and piloting by encouraging a collaborative partnership that allows for input from all members. The facilitator needs an understanding of school curriculum development so that programs use high quality curriculum and instructional practices and to ensure that instruction is in alignment with the state and national learning standards. In addition, facilitators need some knowledge of providers' missions, goals, and resources so that they can help bridge the gap between the diverse missions of the partners and can steer the group in creation of a common vision.

Moving The Program To The Classroom

The partnerships developed by the team members described above takes place using a structured development process, described in-depth in Falco, Barbanell, & Newman (2004) and Newman, Barbanell, & Falco (2004). In short, participants are immersed in the content and work together to find common ground and mission for the program that will be developed. Teachers research the content and design pre- and post- activities to support the videoconference while the museum representatives create the videoconference presentation. The resulting materials and the videoconference are merged and critiqued, and the program is piloted in the classrooms of the participating teachers.  After review and modification based on this formative pilot, teachers who are trained in videoconferencing also test the material and provide feedback. After final modification, including input from the development team and the piloting teachers, the product is declared ready for marketing and broad distribution and use. At this point, continued evaluation and modification rests in the hands of the museum educator delivering the videoconference and the teacher who is requesting the curriculum. 

To date, Project VIEW partnerships have produced a large number of products: a total of 100 sets of project resources and over 200 integration plans are available via In addition, there are 30 collaborating classrooms plans and 4 replication process plans that enhance delivery. Unit plans include pre- and post-conference activities for the classroom designed by teachers (e.g. Web quests, worksheets and hyper-linked resource lists) and references to the state and national learning standards served by the programs. The teacher-generated integration plans are roadmaps showing how an educator might integrate the videoconference project into classroom curriculum delivery in alternative settings and grades. Also included on the Web site are integration plans for collaborating classrooms projects that outline how students can interact with other geographically distant classrooms as part of a videoconference program.

Documenting the Impact of Provider Videoconferencing in K-12 Settings

A key component of Project VIEW has been the documentation and validation of processes and outcomes. A multiphase mixed methodology evaluation was designed and is being used to assess the impact of external content providers' point-to-point videoconferencing with K-12 classrooms. Overall documentation assessed three major constructs: 1) the process of designing and developing videoconferencing and the supporting curriculum, 2) the process of training teachers to integrate videoconferencing curriculum into standards-based curriculum, and 3) the resulting impact of videoconferencing on the K-12 setting. Summaries of procedures and outcomes related to the first two have been described elsewhere (Newman, 2003; Newman, Nolan, and Quinlan, 2004); the purpose of this paper is to describe methods used to document the third construct and to summarize outcomes specifically related to student learning. Three specific student outcomes were documented: 1) the utilization of videoconferencing, 2) program specific cognitive learning, and 3) systems change that would support higher-level student learning. A brief summary of the methods used for each is presented below.

Documenting Utilization Of Videoconferences

A purposive sample of 68 implementation settings, occurring during the course of the project, was selected for in-depth analysis of utilization issues. Selection of setting was based on a need to balance observations of use by grade level, content of curriculum, provider, type of school, and student demographics. For each of these settings, a series of sub constructs were assessed. These include the following.

Observation Of Use

Evaluators selected samples of observations as part of the documentation of videoconference use. In all cases, videoconferencing was integrated into the classroom curriculum; in most cases, prior to the videoconference the teacher had received materials that could be used before, during or after the program. Specific variables documented during the videoconference included type of interaction between student and provider and within the classroom, use of materials before, during or after the program, types of support materials, levels of questioning between teacher, provider, and students, and types of learning and instruction exhibited during the videoconference. To ensure reliability and validity of documentation, trained observers used a standard protocol to gather data.            

Teacher Perceptions

Teacher perceptions were assessed using paper-pencil self-report instruments and follow-up interviews. At the conclusion of each observation, teachers were asked to complete the paper-pencil document and return it to the evaluator. A selected sample, representing various buildings, grade levels, and the use of diverse providers, also were interviewed as part of follow-up assessment. Key constructs included teacher perceptions of questioning, level of learning, and support for standards-based curriculum provided by the provider as well as the teachers' perceptions of benefits to student long-term learning and their classroom/building goal of supporting standards-based instruction.

Student Perceptions and Products

Student perceptions of the process and learning were assessed via a self-report paper-pencil instrument completed after the videoconference. Over 1000 responses were obtained and analyzed. Students were queried as to the degree and types of interactions that occurred among providers, teachers, and students during the videoconference, the levels of involvement they had in the videoconference, and their perceptions of interest in the material, their desire for further learning in the area, and a self-report of level of learning. In addition, each student was asked to provide evidence of learning. The method of providing evidence varied by classroom, and  depended on teacher suggestion/requirements. A standard rubric, developed by the evaluator, was used to rate the products.

Provider Perceptions

A sub-sample of providers (n=10) who participated in the process also was assessed via in-person and phone interviews. Specific constructs assessed included perceptions of student and teacher involvement, amount of prior contact with the teacher, degree of modification required for the setting, and their perceptions of student outcomes.

Documenting Program-Specific Cognitive Outcomes

Thirteen case studies currently are underway as a means of documenting the impact of videoconferencing with external providers on program-specific cognitive outcomes. Each study utilizes a quasi-experimental post-test only comparison group design to assess impact. Six of the studies are investigating use of videoconferencing at the elementary level, five at the middle school level (grades 6-8), and two at grades 9-12. Provider programs include art museums, history museums, zoos, and community experts.

Study Designs

Teacher participation in the cognitive case studies was voluntary in nature. At the middle school and secondary level, one teacher was involved in each study; at the elementary level, two teachers were involved. After participating in Project VIEW training, teachers selected a standard curriculum topic for which providers had supplemental videoconferencing available and, in the majority of cases, additional supplemental materials. Units range from 3 days to two weeks in length; each uses one videoconference with an outside provider. Videoconferences vary in placement within the curriculum; in some settings, they serve as advance organizers, in some as a core instructional component, and in others as supplemental and summative materials. At the elementary level, comparison groups consist of students in a parallel classroom taught by another teacher; at the middle and secondary level, comparison groups consist of students enrolled in alternate sections of the course taught by the same teacher. Evaluators are observing instruction before, during, and after use of videoconferencing and validating that use of curriculum and instructional materials other than the use of the videoconference is equivalent for comparison and experimental classrooms.

Variables and Instrumentation

A series of variables is being collected for each case study. These include 1) teacher developed and scored content assessment, 2) covariates representing prior student knowledge, 3) classroom observations of student inquiry and problem solving, and  4) teachers' perceptions of student learning. Teacher-developed assessment includes essays, projects, presentations, and reports that reflected portions of state mandated testing or test preparation exercises. In all cases, standard rubrics reflecting state and national learning indicators are being used to score student responses. To control for prior student knowledge, a minimum of two covariates per student are being collected; these include each student's overall grade point average from the prior year, and the student's specific grade from the prior year for the content being taught. (For example, if the curriculum unit, and the videoconference are in seventh grade social studies, each student's grade six GPA and grade six social studies score serve as covariates for the teacher's score on the student project/essay.) Classroom observation variables are similar to those described above and include documentation of inquiry-related activities, use of questioning and responding according to Bloom's taxonomy of verbs (see Woolfolk, 2004), and involvement in problem solving/critical thinking activities. Teacher perceptions include generalized group assessment of critical thinking skills, involvement in problem solving, use of inquiry-based skills, and use of advanced questioning/research skills. Evaluator observations are used to validate teacher responses.

Documenting Systems Change That Supports Student Outcomes

A series of case studies also is being completed to document changes in support of student learning at the system level. Systems include the classroom and the building.

Classroom/Teacher Changes

Long-term changes in classroom curriculum development and instructional practices that result from availability of videoconferencing with external providers is being investigated via 8 case studies using a purposive sample of teachers representing lower and upper elementary classrooms, middle school classes, and secondary level courses. Content areas include the core subjects of math, science, English, and social studies, as well as art and music. All teachers received training in the use of videoconferencing technology and the design of curriculum and instruction integrating videoconferencing. In addition, all teachers had in-depth in-service training in the use of technology in K-12 classrooms. Teachers included in these studies utilize a series of videoconferences each year and are followed for at least two years. Variables studied include self-reported and documented changes in curriculum, changes in instructional practices, use of technology by teacher, use of technology and associated resources by the students, and involvement of students in external resources. Additional variables being documented include changes in teacher expectation of student learning styles and the use of non-classroom and non-building resources, and teacher use of external provider supported materials.

Building Changes

Long-term sustainable changes at the school building level encompass multi-teacher outcomes, either within or across grade levels, that reflect changes in curriculum design, instructional practices, use of resources, and student outcomes. Nine case studies of buildings are currently underway; again, a purposive sample is being used to balance for grade level (elementary, middle, and high school buildings) and type and setting of district (public/private and rural, suburban, urban). In all cases, the school has made a commitment to improve the use of technology and technology accessed resources in teaching and learning and has committed resources to professional development for teachers and administrators and support of hardware/software. The majority of schools had previous commitments to technology in the form of computers via Title III funding but had not included use of videoconferencing or external resources as part of their technology growth plan prior to involvement in Project VIEW.

Variables being studied include initiation of building change (creation of interest, allocation of resources, envisioning of outcomes, etc.), implementation of change (degree of actual inclusion in professional development, by whom, and in what sequence; actual use in the classroom, by whom, how frequently, and with what support; modifications that take place in use, instructional practices, and within and across grade curriculum plans; and internal formative changes needed for adoption), and finally, the long term change that is created, maintained, and ultimately integrated into the school's culture (changes in personnel requirements, resource allocation, required teacher/student interactions, expectations of parents and community of student exposure to diverse resources, etc.).

A Summary Of The Impact Of Videoconferencing On Student Learning

Triangulation and synthesis of the findings across the studies described above indicate a positive impact of point-to-point videoconferencing between external content providers and K-12 students. A summary of the outcomes indicates impact in several major areas; these include:

  • Students' ability to use inquiry-based learning,
  • Students' use of alternative/external resources,
  • Students' ability to collaborate with others,
  • Students' motivation to learn,
  • Teacher inclusion of and student ability in critical thinking and problem solving,
  • Teacher-based assessment of cognition at higher levels and student ability to respond to this request
  • Higher levels of teacher expectations of student learning.

Support for State and National Standards

Teachers reported videoconferencing allowed them to teach state and national standards-related constructs in ways that enhanced both depth and breadth of instruction and assessment. As noted in Table 1, 90% of the teachers indicated that the materials delivered by the external content providers was aligned with learning standards, and 71% noted that the involvement facilitated standards-supported learning methods and outcomes. In addition, 90% of the teachers perceived that use of the specific videoconference would increase student academic performance. This finding was supported by observations of classrooms and case study results. The majority of the videoconferences observed utilized multiple modes of instruction, including direct instruction (47%), guided inquiry via structured discussion (60%), demonstrations (13%), student centered inquiry based learning (30%) and cooperative learning (17%).

Outcome %

Videoconferencing was a beneficial tool for teaching the concepts that it addressed 87
The program successfully contributed to meeting the objectives that I had set out for the use of the time in which it was utilized 81
The concepts presented and activities advocated by the videoconference were aligned with established state and national learning standards 90
The format of the videoconference facilitated the integration of active learning and inquiry based teaching within the lesson and promoted literacy, critical thinking, and inquiry and analytical skills 71
The videoconference was interactive in nature 79
This videoconference and similar museum-based programs have the potential to expand teachers’ resources for self-directed curriculum development and learning 79
The videoconference format increases or has the potential to increase student achievement in academics 90

Table 1:  Teacher Perceptions of Videoconferencing

Support For Inquiry-Based Learning

The types of questions posed during the videoconferencing experience support attainment of higher levels of cognition. Approximately two thirds (69%) of the time during videoconferencing questions posed were by content provider to students; 24% were posed by students to the provider, and the remaining 7% by teachers to students.  As noted in Table 2, both provider and student questions included all levels of Blooms Taxonomy; over half of the questions posed by providers were at the comprehension or higher levels while over two thirds of the students reflected upper levels of questioning and reflection. 

Blooms’ Taxonomy Cognition Level Provider Questions Student Questions
Level 1: Knowledge (Identifying, describing, defining, recalling 63 81
Level 2: Comprehension (Summarizing, interpreting, and differentiating 50 69
Level 3: Application (Using information in new contexts and for problem solving 38 35
Level 4:  Analysis (Recognizing patterns, organizing information into components, analyzing data) 20 19
Level 5:  Synthesis (Generalizing from facts, predicting, drawing conclusions, creating products) 10 15
Level 6:  Evaluation (Making decisions, comparing principles, recognizing sublevels; judging value 9 4

Table 2:  Level of Cognitive Processing Reported

Activities utilized during the videoconferencing also evidence higher levels of student learning and cognition. Both student- and teacher-reported activities, as well as evaluator observations, noted use of multiple instructional aides to facilitate active learning. These included use of provider specific artifacts (33%), maps and charts (7%) pictures (10%), video streaming (7%) and provider-led experiments (3%). As reported in Table 3, a variety of grouping formats were used to facilitate transfer of knowledge and skills. Most providers began with conversations or discussions that relayed facts to the entire class and then facilitated, via distance, student work that involved the teacher, a partner, or a group of students.

Type of Interaction during videoconference % Reported
Entire class worked together with the provider 35
Student worked with teacher assistance 24
Student worked with a small group 18
Student worked with a partner 17
Student worked alone 23

Table 3:  Types of provider/student interactions during the videoconference

Students' self-reported involvement in activities supports this finding. When queried individually, over half of all students reported that they were involved in asking and answering questions, while 44% were directly participating in a provider-led activity. This guided inquiry methodology was further supported through classroom based discussions (27%), direct problem solving (21%), working with the teacher on a provider-supplied problem (20%) or other inquiry based activities such as writing, note taking, and working on an experiment. Only 6% of the students indicated that they were not actively involved with the provider.  When queried during interviews, teachers reported that the greatest benefit of videoconferencing was the interactivity between the provider and students and the program's support for inquiry based or higher levels of learning. This level of interaction was noted to be even more important than access to outside materials; teachers noted that providers' ability to keep students engaged in learning was very important for encouraging active learning and constructivist thinking.

Student activity % reported
Watching the program 87
Answering questions 60
Asking questions 53
Participating in an activity with the provider 44
Discussing the topic with classmates 27
Solving problems with the provider 21
Participating in an activity with the teacher 20
Designing or making something 12
Taking notes 11
Working on an experiment 9
Writing 8
Solving a problem with teacher assistance 8
Non-videoconference/curriculum related activities 6

Table 4:  Summary of student activities occurring during a videoconference

When queried as to their learning, students were overwhelmingly positive about perceived outcomes. Over 80% indicated that they learned a lot, would like to learn more on the topic, and that the material matched the curriculum/content being taught in the classroom by their teacher.

Student reported outcome % Agreement
I learned a lot from the program 88
I would like to learn more about what I saw or learned during the program 80
I learned more about the topic through the program than I would have in an ordinary class. 78
The topic of the program fit in with what I am learning in school right now 82
The program made me more interested in the topic 76

Table 5:  Student reported outcomes of videoconferencing

This finding was further supported via evaluator observations in classroom case studies and teacher interviews; in both it was reported that students were exposed to additional resources that were beyond the scope of the regular classroom, and, over time, began to expect higher levels of resources and greater self-direction in learning. Teachers, parents, and administrators involved in settings where videoconferencing was an on-going part of instruction also reported higher use of cognitive processing and a subsequent increase in teachers' expectations that students could and should exhibit these outcomes. Case studies of individual school buildings also evidence changes reflective of student outcomes and subsequent increases in the allocation of resources that support higher levels of inquiry (e.g. more materials that support guided inquiry and student centered learning and less direct instruction).

Support For Student Retention Of Knowledge

As part of both case studies and the utilization study, evaluators collected and reviewed a selection of student products. These products consisted of essays, lists, poems, written summaries of activities, pictures, tests, presentations, and individually developed materials reflective of student learning. The evaluators, using the following categories, rated a total of 207 products: high (reflected major points of the content; used vivid, well defined expressions), medium (reflected at least one major point but evidenced few details) or low (lacked evidence of knowledge of at least one major point, very few details of retention or application provided). A summary of the findings by grade is presented in Table 6. 

  Type of Outcome
  Student Product Written Material
  Low Medium High Low Medium High
Student Grade Level            
   Lower Elementary (1,2,3) 0 68 31 6 44 50
   Upper Elementary (4,5) 12 56 32 8 53 38
   Middle School (6, 7,8) 18 51 31 8 31 62
   Secondary (9 through 12 25 50 25 11 78 11

Table 6:  Analysis of Student Learning

As noted in the table, the majority of student products evidenced retention of at least one major concept delivered by the external provider while approximately two thirds were rated as high. Evidence via written exercises tended to produce the highest levels of outcomes especially at the elementary and middle school level. This is noteworthy in that state and national standards are now emphasizing the need to improve English and Language Arts skills at grades 3 through 8. When these outcomes were further examined for level of cognition using Bloom's taxonomy, at least half indicated comprehension, application or analysis in addition to knowledge. When student products requiring application (e.g. use of the content in an applied setting above and beyond writing about it—transfer of knowledge) were reviewed, it was found that approximately half exhibited at least one major point included in the provider presentation. As noted in Table 6, as grade level increased, and complexity of material delivered by the provider evolved, attainment of this outcome decreased. No students in lower elementary classes received ratings of low outcomes for products while approximately 25% of secondary students did. The attainment of high ratings, however, was generally in the 25-30% across all grade levels.

Summary and Conclusions

External providers are of growing importance in K-12 education. In the past, geographical distance, financial exigencies, and security issues have made it difficult for schools to access and utilize the wealth of resources that are available off-site. The use of external resources has been limited to local providers or experts who can bring archival material to the classroom in person. As a result, many schools have not been able to provide their students with the opportunity to explore and study with experts who can supplement, enhance, and facilitate student learning.

With the growing access of technology, however, many content providers are eager to develop methods that will allow them break down the invisible barriers to learning and are not only seeking ways to become more involved in sharing their knowledge, resources, and experiences, but also looking for ways to aid teachers in developing and strengthening curriculum. While the use of computers and Web sites does facilitate this process, the advent of technology-supported videoconferencing is taking the interaction to new levels. The use of videoconferencing to support, supplement, and expand instruction in the K-12 setting is now allowing students who, for geographical or financial reasons, are not able to visit providers to have access to key information. In addition, providers who in the past only had access to students who were in close proximity to their physical setting, or to schools that could fund limited field trips, now have the ability to share their materials with learners around the globe.

This cooperative approach to instruction and learning is resulting in multiple outcomes that are changing students' views of the learning process; their knowledge and appreciation of external, expert resources; and their desire for and value of alternative sources of knowledge. The current series of studies documenting the impact of Project VIEW indicates that students who are exposed to external provider information and resources have an increased desire to learn, want additional resources on a more regular basis, retain the knowledge and skills supported via videoconferencing, and exhibit higher levels of application and problem solving. Teachers and schools that support videoconferencing have been shown to have higher expectations of student learning, report greater use of problem solving across all grades, and report a positive and high benefit ratio in terms of student learning and instructional time.


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Cite as:

Newman, D., P. Barbanell and J. Falcon, Achievement of Student Cognitive Growth: Results of Integrating Interactive Museum Videoconferencing, in J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds.). Museums and the Web 2005: Proceedings, Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 31, 2005 at