Phrases like “Let’s Google it” and “Text me” are familiar to the youth of today. Though simple, the phrases speak to a greater reality—the use of computing technology and high-speed communication is ubiquitous. The pervasive use of technology opens up new opportunities for undergraduate STEM education. The NSF Task force on Cyberlearning defines cyberlearning as“the use of networked computing and communications technologies to support learning” (2008,p5). Since the full potential of cyberlearning has not been fully realized in undergraduate education, Program Officers in the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) are interested in exploring the possibilities of cyberlearning. Such interest is the impetus for this study. The goal of this project was to explore ways in which cyberlearning might be used to promote excellence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.The following research questions guided this study: (1) How is the concept of cyberlearning described in the scholarly literature? (2) What funding has DUE provided for cyberlearning projects over the past 10 years? What types of cyberlearning awards has DUE made over the past 10 years? (3) What are the perceptions of cyberlearning among a subset of NSF Program Officers? (4) What are possible directions DUE could take with its support for cyberlearning? Initially, a literature review was conducted in order to determine how the concept of cyberlearning appears in scholarly literature. Secondly, over 800 unique DUE awards were pulled from the NSF awards database using 50 keywords to determine the amount of funding;and a statistical sample of abstracts was reviewed. Descriptive statistics were used to explain the types of cyberlearning awards that have been funded over the past 10 years and their outcomes.Third, eighteen Program Officers and Directors were interviewed and the data were coded for themes. This paper will present the findings of the awards analysis and interviews; along with there commendations that were provided to the DUE program officers.
2012, ASEE, cyberlearning
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