- Why is NetAdventure® a valuable way to learn?
The Web itself is too open-ended for effective learning for most kids. The problem is to provide the right level of structure so you are guided to learn but not limited in what is learned. NetAdventure represents a new paradigm for the use of Web resources in learning that supports the best kind of learning: guided inquiry. In our approach, the path you take is more important than the final destination. This is just the opposite of most courses which attempt to get you from A to B with the least pain.
People who have learned through difficult puzzles and significant challenges of this sort that the knowledge constructed in finding the solution lasts a lifetime. Many adults who were puzzle-solvers in their youth can easily recount the details of dozens of puzzles and their solutions from decades earlier and can testify that the ideas they introduced created a love of math and science and provided the basis of many important concepts. The Web is an excellent resource for providing stimulating problems, puzzles, projects, and challenges that combine structure and open-endedness in a way that could lead to significant learning for learners everywhere.
- How do I know if I am qualified to take a NetAdventure?
We have made every NetAdventure easy to start. We know that no single challenge will appeal to everyone, so we have made a rich collection of different kinds of challenges. By providing a stimulating, interesting environment, with a plethora of intellectual adventures, you will find at least one to pursue. You don't have to solve all the challenges; it is more important that you find one to get deeply involved with. We have made every adventure with an easy entrance into a profound area, so that everyone can find an area they find interesting and want to explore at length. This can appeal to a cross-section of kids, not just those schools recognize as smart.
- Am I all alone in a NetAdventure?
No. Each of the three challenges on each day will have its own electronic discussion area to which participants submit responses, and attach files of their work. It will be less important to submit the right answer than to get involved in the conversation about some of the interesting ramifications of the challenge. As soon as you submit, you can see what others have submitted and begin electronic conversations. One of our staff will also read all submissions and provide commentary. The host will continue to interact with participants for four weeks; the discussion areas will stay open as long as there is interest. This way, we use the Web to help kids learn together, through collaboration.
- What is the NetAdventure structure?
On the first of each month we will post an invitation to explore a new, challenging topic such as Fibonacci numbers or Monarch Migrations. NetAdventure is currently 6 months with an "adventure" occurring on each month. Each adventure will have three interesting challenges, starting with one most upper elementary students who can concentrate on a problem could master in an hour called the "Starter Challenge." After the Starter, there is a "Super Challenge." The most difficult challenges are tough for most adults and are named "Mega Challenges." All kinds of additional resources will be provided, such as clues, extra information, and pointers to places on the Web with related information.
- What are the advantages of the NetAdventure structure?
This structure gives every kid something new and interesting each month with the excitement of trying to be the first to post an good answer. The three questions provide challenges to learners at very different levels and capacity. The variety of topics maximizes the chance of matching each students interests. Keeping each "month's" topic active for four weeks and open indefinitely, provides a medium for extended exploration by interested learners. The threaded discussion group structure permits asynchronous conversations across time zones and borders. Its ability to support arbitrary enclosures makes it possible for participants to "publish" their work to the world on our servers. Doing this also in the summer seems appropriate to the distinct style of learning we are attempting that is quite contrary to most formal learning. We imagine kids trapped in cross-country car trips, stuck in a hot city, or starting school in August, will find these intellectual challenges welcomed and exciting. Any one of the challenges could lead to a lifetime interest in an important area.
- What happens each month in NetAdventures?
Each month will have either a numerical problem, a science challenge, a social science investigation, or a design problem. These correspond with the disciplines of mathematics, science, social science, and engineering, respectively, and should help participants understand which of these areas are most interesting for them. Other projects will be an interdisciplinary challenge titled "connections." You are also able to post your own adventures related to the theme which can be posted anytime throughout the month. Technically, the months will get more sophisticated starting with basic browser functionality, and, later, requiring plug-ins, Java, and a knowledge of tool applications. Within the first 6 months, participants should become familiar with spreadsheets, graphers, statistics, and a variety of data analysis functions all obtained from the Web.
- Can everyone in my group or family participate?
This is up to you. Each password gives you and your family one identity in NetAdventure. If three kids in one family want to share that one identity, that is fine. You can give yourselves a collective name like "the Park Street Family". Inside your messages each member can even identify himself or herself. On the other hand, if you want your identity to come through in the discussions, if you want credit for solving a difficult challenge, you should identify yourself within the message.
- How do I know that NetAdventure will be high quality?
NetAdventure is being developed by outstanding educational groups. The Concord Consortium is a non-profit, research and development organization and KidSolve®, Inc. dedicated to improving education through the increased use of new technologies.