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Research News And Comment: The WWW And Classroom Research: What Path Should We Take?

Mark Windschitl

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Educators have developed many special classroom activities and collaborative projects based on the use of the World Wide Web. Critical attention to these initiatives is merited given the limited amount of substantive classroom research on learning derived from these projects. The vast majority of published work is descriptive of technology implementation in classrooms or tends to be intuitive analyses of what works and what doesn't work with students. The literature stops short of asking critical questions such as, “Are these practices helping students, and, if so, how?” or, “How is the introduction of this technology changing pedagogical practices?” I argue for a stronger research focus on aspects of learning and teaching as influenced by the use of the WWW and begin by describing salient characteristics of the Web regarding these issues. I also discuss three topics that can support a number of meaningful research questions about Web-supported learning: using the Web for student inquiry, student communication via the Web, and the potential for qualitative research perspectives to elucidate issues of Web-based learning.