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DigiCULT
.
Info
19
LESTER
(L
EARNING
S
CIENCE AND
T
ECHNOLOGY
R
EPOSITORY
) B
Y
L
ISA
S
PIRO
I n a fast-growing sector it is often
useful for projects, researchers, organ-
isations and communities to be able
to communicate with one another.
Unfortunately, the speeds at which
innovative technologies change some-
times make it difficult to quickly get
an accurate overview of the field in
question. Project Director Lisa Spiro
describes the Learning Science and
Technology Repository (http://lester.
rice.edu), a gateway to events, discus-
sions and information about the
development of learning technologies.
T
racking and facilitating innovation
in learning technologies - The lack
of a forum focused on ongoing research in
learning science and technology hampers
efforts to (1) track innovations, (2) identify
areas requiring further research, and (3)
implement new learning technologies.
LESTER fills this gap.
D
eveloped by Rice University's
ETRAC (Educational Technology
Research and Assessment Cooperative,
http://antioch.rice.edu/etrac/about.html),
and sponsored by Microsoft Research,
LESTER serves as an information gateway
to support the creation and implementa-
tion of innovative learning technologies as
well as the dissemination of new research
about learning. LESTER features a robust,
Web-accessible database inventorying lead-
ing learning science and technology (LST)
projects, researchers, research organisations,
and funding agencies around the world.
Through this continuously updated
resource, users can discover valuable infor-
mation about significant LST initiatives,
such as their research priorities, timelines,
funding sources, personnel and sponsoring
organisations.
J
ust as online educational resource com-
munities such as the Multimedia
Educational Resource for Learning and
Online Teaching (MERLOT,
http://www.merlot.org) provide extensive,
carefully catalogued records about educa-
tional content in a range of disciplines, so
LESTER serves as a dynamic portal to
innovative educational technologies and
research projects, as well as the researchers
and organisations developing them.
LESTER can be searched, analysed and
updated by researchers, and is based on a
robust, extensible data model that captures
the relationships among LST entities and
activities. LESTER provides the basis for a
composite portrait of ongoing research in
learning science and technology, highlight-
ing new technologies and their application
to teaching and learning.
Goals
The specific goals of LESTER are:
- To improve educational practice and
research by making available detailed,
current information about significant
learning science and technology (LST)
organisations, projects and researchers.
- To facilitate collaboration among LST
researchers.
- To make visible research paths and
reveal gaps in current research priorities.
- To serve as a community space for
learning science and technology.
- To address the gap between innovation
and implementation.
Approach
To achieve these goals,
LESTER's approach is to:
- Build an active, engaged user
community.
- Design LESTER so that it can be scaled,
extended and federated with similar
databases.
- Actively collect information.
- Develop an LST Taxonomy and
Thesaurus to be used in creating
records.
KEY FEATURES OF LESTER
Offers high-quality, useful informa-
tion about new technologies for
education
LESTER makes visible otherwise hard-to-
find information about the state of the art
in learning science and technology by
aggregating data culled from journal arti-
cles, conference presentations,Websites and
other sources, as well as data contributed
by the researchers themselves.When
LESTER was released on 2 December
2002, it contained information on more
than 265 projects, 290 researchers, 180
research organisations and 110 funding
organisations throughout the United
States and Europe.
Constructs a collaborative and
inclusive community
Through LESTER, researchers can discov-
er potential partners, and instructors and
instructional technologists can identify
promising technologies and methodolo-
gies. Not only does LESTER provide a
window into the LST community, it also
enables the members of this community to
add new records and edit existing ones
about their projects and organisations.
Provides language for describing
emerging technologies
To facilitate accurate searches and provide
a precise descriptive language, LESTER
employs a set of keywords that is based
upon the ERIC Thesaurus, a standard
vocabulary in the field of education, but