Jeremy Roschelle, SRI International
Chris DiGano, SRI International
Roy Pea, SRI International
Jim Kaput, UMass Dartmouth (Co-PI)
National Science Foundation
1998 - 2001
The Educational Software Components of Tomorrow (ESCOT) project investigated fundamental social, economic and technical issues which affect the ability of the National Science Foundation (and its extended community) to meet the need for software that supports systemic reform. The report of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST, 1997) highlights the failure of the marketplace to deliver enough "student-centered, constructivist" software, particularly with respect to the innovative curricula and national standards that are now entering implementation. PCAST calls for federal funding of "exploratory work focusing on the development and preliminary testing of innovative new approaches to the application of technology in education which are unlikely to originate from within the private sector." The REPP announcement likewise calls for research aimed at "discovering and examining the prerequisites for implementing sustainable reform on a national scale; untapped, appropriate, and efficient uses of technology."
ESCOT created a testbed for exploring an emerging convergence of powerful, but untapped forces: dynamic media, knowledge networks, and component software architectures. Together these forces have the potential to reshape the infrastructure for sustainable development of educational software, resulting in a new network economy. This network economy could meet national needs for educational software with greater efficiency, capacity for innovation, and competitive drive towards quality. In addition to forming the experimental testbed, ESCOT pursued three objectives: (a) developing a map for expressing the needs of standards-based reform efforts in relationship to conceivable software modules; (b) understanding how to use the internet to catalyze distributed, self-organizing authoring teams; and (c) analyzing mechanisms and design patterns for achieving interoperability among educational software components. Paralleling and extending the initial NSF curriculum development support strategy, the ESCOT testbed operated within a focussed scope, existing middle school mathematics curriculum and implementation projects, with the goal being to provide knowledge and exemplars that inform policy and practice more broadly in K-12 mathematics and science.