eThemes Saves Time, Lowers Cost, and Improves Student Learning
The eMINTS National Center and the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies provide eThemes—a free, online database of carefully selected, child-safe learning materials, bringing media-rich content to classrooms across the country. eThemes includes thousands of websites grouped into over 2,500 thematic areas ranging from “advertising” to “zoos”. Aligned with the educational standards of Missouri and eight other states, teachers use eThemes materials because they are age appropriate and up-to-date. By saving teachers from the time-intensive task of finding high-quality instructional websites and reducing the need for expensive print materials, conservative estimates are that eThemes lowers the annual cost of K–12 education by millions. The eThemes website receives over 6,000,000 hits annually.
Learning Support Systems Help Students with Learning Disabilities and Emotional/Behavioral Disorders
Through KidTools and StrategyTools, the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies is providing educators with free computer-based performance support tools for children and adolescents with learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders. Project director Gail Fitzgerald and her colleagues designed the tools to enable students to succeed in school and to help them transition to post-school settings. The U.S. Department of Education has provided $2.8 million in funding since 1998 to support the development of this software and to establish its efficacy in public school classrooms. The software is being disseminated to teachers and parents throughout Missouri and the nation.
Digital Support and Resources for the Truman Presidential Library
Launched with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 1996, Project Whistlestop provides online support and digital library services for the Truman Presidential Library & Museum. Lead by Tom Kochtanek in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, the Project Whistlestop website (http://www.trumanlibrary.org) receives more than 77 million hits a year, providing immediate access to Truman resources for researchers, students, and other online visitors.
Online Learning Resources Help Improve Boating Safety and Law Enforcement
Software designers in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies are working to improve boating safety. A team lead by Joi Moore is working with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to evaluate and improve the organization’s online learning resources. NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories, affecting the lives of over 83 million American boaters.
Open Source Software Improves eLearning
Jim Laffey and a team of software designers from the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies are working to create open source software to enhance learning and improve the function of on-line resources. The team has created CANS (Context-aware Activity Notification System), an activity monitoring system designed for use in open source information and course management systems such as Sakai. CANS is made available to educators for free so they can better monitor and assist student progress and their students can benefit from the social nature of learning in online settings.
Virtual Environments Help Individuals with Autism
The iSocial project is a partnership between the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies and MU’s Thompson Center for Autism & Neuro Developmental Disorders. Under the direction of Jim Laffey, the iSocial team is creating a 3D Virtual Learning Environment to help develop social competence for individuals with autism. According to the Center for Disease Control, from 1994 to 2005 the number of children and youth ages 6–21 years receiving services for ASD increased from approximately 20,000 to 200,000.
Department of Labor Grant Improves Radiation Safety Training
David Jonassen and Rose Marra from the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies are partnering with Bill Miller from Nuclear Engineering on a $2.3 million project that will help increase the pool of well-trained Radiation Protection Technicians at nuclear power plants. The Radiation Protection Curriculum Project is developing courses and learning resources that will be implemented at 6 community colleges across the country, helping meet the projected need for roughly 90,000 new nuclear employees in the next 10 years, on top of additional needs resulting from new nuclear power plant construction.
Assessment Tools Help Engineering Programs Recruit and Retain Female Students
The School of Information Science & Learning Technologies is working to develop performance tools that assess the effectiveness of engineering and science programs to recruit and retain women. Partnering with Penn State University, Rose Marra is working with the National Girls Collaborative Project, Assessing Women in Engineering (AWE) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to build capacity in reaching female engineering students and to distribute a comprehensive set of assessment tools to help recruitment efforts and to measure retention rates. The need for this work is supported by the continued low enrollment of women in undergraduate engineering programs where percentages remain at approximately 20% in spite of over two decades of efforts to increase enrollments.
IE Lab Helps Improve Websites
Operated by the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, the Information Experiences Laboratory (IE Lab) helps clients across Missouri improve the usability and impact of their website and other digital resources. IE Lab clients range from small start-up companies to large, multi-national corporations, as well as several libraries and other non-profit organizations in Missouri. After implementing IE Lab recommendations, two clients have won national awards for their improved websites.
IE Lab Global Network
Faculty in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies are working with colleagues in Taiwan, China, Thailand, and Singapore to create the IE Lab Global Network, a consortium of usability testing facilities. The lab in Taiwan is currently assisting the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Asia Office to create a website in Chinese for Missouri’s agribusiness presence in the Pacific Rim.
MU Prepares Librarians
A federal grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services is helping MU faculty meet the growing demand for professional librarians in Missouri. MU has Missouri’s only Library Science program that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). With access points in Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia, St. Louis, and Omaha, NE, the Library Science program produces approximately 100 librarians a year, helping meet a growing demand for these information specialists across the State and region.