Dibble is a versatile website and platform that hosts collaborative, user-friendly, participatory data collection and analysis projects. Dibble projects start with users' own questions, engaging users by building on their curiosity, goals and interests. While collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data within Dibble, users are also engaging in critical STEM-based skills. Dibble differs from other online project development efforts in at least three critical respects. First, Dibble will be a user-friendly platform that facilitates the creation of projects by participants themselves, based on their unique interests. Second, while all projects will include STEM processes and skills, the project content will not be predetermined and can include content from a range of disciplines and fields lending itself to better engage and retain the interest of individuals who aren't already predisposed to STEM. Third, Dibble will be more impactful on learning than typical citizen science projects because users' actions will be linked to regular, ongoing feedback from moderators and topical experts with a focus on guiding project development, recognizing user contributions, and further engagement in project content. By virtue of being web-based, Dibble will be broadly accessible. With future development supported by a range of collaborative partners and a well-designed dissemination and viral marketing plan, it has the potential for widespread, enduring growth, with the goal of creating a more STEM-literate society.
Dibble will take advantage of and contribute to the growing capabilities of digital technology, social networking, and mobile devices to explore new avenues for reaching user audiences. Typically, in order for audiences to take advantage of informal learning opportunities, they must have a predisposition to go to an informal learning setting to pursue an interest, hobby or find the answer to meet an acute need. Dibble seeks to reach those who aren't entering those typical informal learning settings by supporting the creation of STEM learning opportunities in projects that grow directly from the users' interests. Additionally, Dibble creates an opportunity to build on new understandings in the field of computer-supported collaborative learning as well as emerging understandings in participatory urbanism and participatory learning. Dibble operationalizes these theories in a way that capitalizes on new media, technology, design, STEM and STEM education to develop new ways to engage the public in STEM as well as new approaches to data collection and visualization.