Women and Science: Opportunity in a Changing Landscape
National Symposium at Bryn Mawr College
26-27 October 2001

Second Session - Discussion Notes

Picking up from the first session discussion: Recognizing that "female/male differences" are not predictive for any individual, there appeared still to be a sense that existing materials might be more appealing to males than females on a population basis and that it was important to try and understand/correct this.

Learning style issues:

Most existing "educational" materials emphasize (a) type activities, though there are clear examples of (b) type materials, such as graphics packages and the Sims type of computer games.

A major challenge for the future is the development of "educational" materials which combine in a more balanced way (a) and (b) activities, so that all students, irrespective of learning style preference, feel invited in to such materials and can learn from them both in terms of experiences they naturally seek and experiences they might not otherwise be inclined to explore.

While movement in these more sophisticated directions is important, it should also be recognized that the movement toward technology use has its own dynamics, independent of sophisticated pedagogical considerations. It is important that students and educators acquire basic "technological literacy", without which more sophisticated materials will not be successfully developed or used. It is important as well to recognize that some existing technology uses replicate existing educational models (rote learning, lack of dynamic social interaction) rather than encourage new directions in education. While perhaps inevitable along the evolutionary path of "educational technology" development, we hope the potential of technology to transform the educational process in desireable ways will increasingly be recognized.

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