This project is expanding Interactive Groundwater (IGW), a comprehensive, combined research and educational software environment, into a complete digital learning environment. This is being accomplished by coupling the existing digital laboratory to a comprehensive digital library that consists of a groundwater science library, a visualization library, a spatial data library, a documentation library, and a library of related problems and exercises. The resulting digital learning environment has the following innovative characteristics: 1) An active library that is larger than its collection - The digital laboratory and library interact intelligently. This two-way interaction makes the library larger than its physical collections and the laboratory more than just an experimental facility. While the digital laboratory provides hands-on theme dynamics to learn around, the digital library provides instant situational support on the implementation and science. It provides ideas, interpretations, theories, examples, literatures, applications, and background. This integrated learning environment provides a place for students to access information as well as to consume and to create information. It allows students to learn, to practice, to explore, and to discover. 2) High impact contents that capitalize on the advantages of digital media - The digital library presents such information in a non-conventional way. It takes advantage of the digital media and capitalizes on the power of visualizations and the power of interactions. In particular, it provides dynamic, engaging, and interactive learning materials in ways that substantially improve knowledge assimilation and retention and promote active learning. The digital library utilizes a unique and systematic collection of interactive visualizations to illustrate difficult groundwater concepts, processes, dynamics, theories, solution techniques, and applications. The library allows students to see the unseen and understand the invisible. The creation of this unique groundwater visualization library is made possible by the innovative IGW digital laboratory. 3) A powerful content organization and delivery paradigm that supports problem-based learning - The digital library shares the same interface as the digital laboratory, allowing a student to rapidly find the information at the time it is needed. The coupled interface to information access and exploration is highly effective for situated or problem-based learning and allows students to singularly focus on the exploration and problem solving. 4) An adaptable learning environment that supports students of different levels - The digital laboratory-library system provides a unique and adaptable framework for learning. Students determine their own learning routes and control the degree of difficulty or sophistication. As such, the new learning environment allows accommodating students of different levels and of different backgrounds. Depending on the level and focus of a course, the digital learning environment can be used in a variety of ways: for real-time demonstration and visualization of basic concepts and processes; to visualize and better understand solution techniques and procedures; or to provide integrated modeling exercises or a virtual field experience. The extension of IGW into a digital learning environment impacts the entire groundwater educational community. It benefits researchers by giving them a tool for in-depth and collaborative research. It benefits instructors by providing a means for them to present active and innovative learning techniques in the classroom. Most importantly, it benefits students by allowing them to construct knowledge in ways that help them to become self-sufficient learners and thinkers. Significant co-funding of this project is being provided by the Division of Earth Sciences in the NSF Directorate for Geosciences in recognition of the importance that this project has on the development of a digital learning environment supporting problem solving associated with groundwater education and research.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Jill K. Singer
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Michigan State University
East Lansing
United States
Zip Code