This SBIR Phase II project defines and implements a new class of technology-enabled science and environmental health science (EHS) grade 6-12 teacher support environment. The proposed innovation is called Teacher's iPod or TiP. The goals of the Phase II TiP study are to: (1) prepare teachers to be more effective, knowledgeable, and professional in delivering specific lessons, content, and/or activities in the classroom resulting in improved learning outcomes, (2) overcome teachers'residual resistance to adopting and effectively using new learning technologies, and (3) be of low-cost, robust, and supported with a viable commercialization plan. The need for TiP is reflected in the fact that US science education is at a crossroads. National and international assessments indicate a number of systemic weaknesses in the 6-12 science (including EHS) educational delivery system. Historically, the in-class teacher has been the primary learning enabler, but today many 6-12 science teachers have limited formal training and credentials in scientific and technical fields, especially EHS. TiP will use a recent technological innovation, called podcasting, to automatically deliver just-in-time focused instruction that prepare teachers to be more effect in-class learning agents on a lesson-by-lesson basis. TiP podcasts are designed to provide teachers with a core understanding of the topical material to be presented in-class, along with suggested lecturer enhancements, supporting activities, and recommended assessment strategies. The on-demand delivery of the TiP podcasts is automated under teacher control, and can be transacted anytime and anywhere (e.g., morning commute). The Phase II TiP study will plan, design, and implement a feature-filled collection of course-specific podcasts for multiple 6-12 science courses. TiP podcasts will be scripted to enrich the entire science learning experience with an added EHS-awareness. A rigorous assessment program will involved 120 Orange County Public School (Orlando, FL) and Leon County Schools (Tallahassee, FL) science teachers, engaging around 4,500 students. Data on TiP's efficacy, efficiency, comparability, required skill set, actual usage in authentic lesson-specific instances, and learning outcomes will be measured and analyzed. The Phase II study will result in an attractive and viable commercial product that is supported with an innovative production and marketing plan.
The proposed TiP teacher support environment advances the cause of public health in that it can improve the quality of 6-12 science education. The project is expected to result in more enlightened graduates and an expanded the pool of those qualified to pursue public health careers.