Software Development (2010–present)

This interactive web site, developed under funding from the Spencer Foundation, provides a free and convenient way for any teacher or professor to quickly assess their own students’ metahistorical conceptions, in order to inform their course planning. At the heart of the site is a short, anonymous survey called the Historical Account Differences survey, developed and refined over several years with the assistance of history professors, teachers and students. The survey questions reveal how students think about the nature of historical knowledge by asking them to rate several different explanations for differences between historical accounts. Any teacher or professor can set up a free account on the site, and administer the survey to as many classes of students as they like as often as they like. Students’ responses are instantly scored and graphed.

Telementoring Orchestrator (2001–2003)

A successor to the CoVis Mentor Database, Telementoring Orchestrator is a server-side web application, designed to aid any sort of organization (a corporation, university, school or nonprofit society) in efficiently organizing and monitoring large numbers of on-line mentoring relationships. The system is easy to install, configure and customize, and has functional links with the Knowledge Forum groupware product to support telementoring relationships in a shared electronic workspace, as well as via private e-mail when desired. It is available free for non-commercial use.

The CoVis Mentor Database (1996–1997)

This was a World-Wide Web-based application which I designed and built to help volunteer scientists and K–12 teachers locate each other and arrange on-line mentoring relationships for primary and secondary students. Written in a dialect of Perl and using an Oracle database to store data, it provides services for instructors to petition volunteers for help with particular projects, set up and manage “matches” between volunteer mentors and teams of students, and also automatically routes and logs e-mail between registered mentors and mentees. To my knowledge,
the Mentor Database is currently the best-developed infrastructure to support continued research and development on telementoring. The system was conceived in the early stages of my dissertation research and designed along with Rory Wagner, a high school science teacher involved in the CoVis project. It continues to be refined with the support of other teachers and researchers.

The CoVis Collaboratory Notebook (1992–1995)

This was a unique Internet-based groupware system designed and built to support students' and teachers' work on long-term science projects. To my knowledge it was the first wide-area collaborative learning tool of its kind, and was first deployed only shortly after commercial products such as Lotus Notes became available. I designed this software with Daniel Edelson and Roy Pea as part of the Learning Through Collaborative Visualization (CoVis) Project at Northwestern. I produced the first prototype in Macintosh Common LISP, and along with CoVis Senior Programmer Myrland J. Gray, refined this prototype for classroom use. I had a large influence over the design and evolution of the system over the following three years through the conduct and analysis of field trials and curricular experiments with high school teachers. I have also contributed in a variety of ways, including the planning and conduct of teacher workshops, to the use of this software both inside and outside the CoVis Project.