What ASK systems and the Story Archive offer is a way to open up the walls of the classroom. They give teachers a way to bring in outside help. One of our systems contains clips from Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford. When a student develops a question concerning how a President might react to a proposal, such systems allow a President to give an answer. When a student wants to know about the implications of a historical movement, a world expert on history can suggest an answer.
Such resources have been available before, of course, in books and film strips. But they have not been accessible. Libraries can be seen as enormous passive buckets of content. They contain many answers but those answers are tough to get to. To find an answer, you first need to physically go to the library. Then, you need to state your questions in terms the library's systems understand, such as Dewey Decimal System. Using Dewey Decimal-ese you locate a number of "content units" that might contain what you want. The "content units" libraries deal in are complete works (books, movies, articles). So, you go to the stacks, pulling out these content units and thumbing through them. If you are lucky, you find what you need.
Small wonder few students are known for the depth of their library research. Librarians can help, of course, but only so much. They cannot know which parts of which books are relevant. They cannot have the stacks of the library immediately at their fingertips. Learning by exploring environments offer a different vision, one in which the place of research is no longer different than the place of activity. Rather than a passive library, they provide active accessible databases. When students are working through a problem in the classroom, they should be able to immediately access an ASK system, without interrupting what they are doing. They should be able to access the world's experts and have something like a conversation with them, trading off the experts' points of view while developing their own. With this possibility, the idea of a self-directed education becomes just that much more reasonable to consider. Why not have a collection of Nobel Prize winners as your own personal physics teachers? Technology makes this possible.
Schools and Students Goals
Where am I in the content of the book?