by Jessica E. Zimmer
Visionlearning is a science education system that provides high-quality teaching lessons that can be used in college and high school classrooms. Our lessons are written by professional educators to meet and exceed the goals outlined in the National Science Education Standards (NSES). First outlined in the 1996 book “The National Science Education Standards” published by the National Research Council (NRC), a non-profit institution under the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, the standards set goals for K-12 science education and provide guidance for college education. They have shaped how science classes have developed since the late 1990s.
Visionlearning provides teaching material that meets and exceeds the goals of the NSES. We combine high-quality content written by professional educators and scientists, with links to current news stories and online experiments. Our lessons discuss the historical context and societal impacts of scientific principles while giving students opportunities to ask questions of research scientists, learn alongside their peers and better communicate with their teachers.
Visionlearning has designed content so that it fulfills the requirements of the NRC’s Science Content Standards. All of the modules in our Library are categorized by NSES-topics: life science, physical science, earth and space science, beyond the NSES and faculty development. The “Search by Standard” tool built into Visionlearning’s library allows you to quickly locate relevant lessons. You can locate a link to a listing of our modules by their National Science Education Standard equivalent in the second paragraph of our Library page or on right-side yellow menu of that page. These links will allow you to browse our modules according to which standard they meet.
A listing of the Visionlearning library by NSES standard.
Our modules are built to incorporate a number of concepts that have not been adequately addressed by textbooks: historical content, societal content, inquiry-based learning and technological comprehension (Slattery 1996). The history behind scientists and scientific discoveries is discussed within lessons and links to biographies, classic research papers and accounts of experiments. Histories and biographies help students to understand how scientific principles come to be developed and accepted (Hurd 1998: 411). An understanding of how science relates to society – societal content – is achieved through links to current news stories (in News & Events) and websites that talk about a discovery’s place in modern life. There is a place for students to do inquiry-based learning (interactive, question-driven use of material) in the animations and self-assessment quizzes in the module. Visionlearning’s modules also incorporate technological comprehension into lessons by encouraging students to use hyperlinks, audio, visual and animation programs (such as Real Audio, Quicktime and Flash) and a computer to find class notes and homework (in MyClassroom).
Visionlearning allows teachers to look at other online classrooms in the MyClassroom section to compare and evaluate different approaches, providing faculty development. Visionlearning’s method of establishing NSES standards for college classrooms is cost effective. Since the NRC’s recommendations ask that teachers incorporate scientific inquiry and teamwork into classes without extra funding or administrative or government guidance, we at Visionlearning worked to create free accessibility for teachers and students to the site. Published guides of Visionlearning’s lessons are also available and are inexpensive.
At Visionlearning, we believe in several core tenets that the NRC expressed in “The National Science Education Standards.” Teaching methods should be as excellent as lesson content. Teachers should individualize their lesson plans. Classes should be directed toward a diverse group of students rather than to the “mean.” We look forward to helping you bring your science teaching methods and content up to the goals of the Standards, as well as working with you to keep your lessons distinctive and exciting.
Jessica E. Zimmer "Visionlearning and the National Science Education Standards," Visionlearning Vol. HELP-1 (7), 2003.