Mark Gaved, Michael Wright, 22 August 2008.
The Personal Inquiry project is making use of a range of technologies to enhance students' learning. We are exploring learning across formal and informal environments, supporting students in the classroom, at home, and on fieldtrips.
Asus Eee Ultra Mobile Personal Computers: A key aspect of the Personal Inquiry project is to explore how handheld computers can guide students through their activities. We are using the Asus Eee PC, a lightweight easy-to-use computer.
Sciencescope data loggers and sensors: one of the project partners, produces scientific data loggers and sensors for use in schools. We are using these to collect and measure data such as heart rate, wind speed, and air temperature.
Digital cameras: We're using point-and-shoot digital cameras to help students to collect rich observational data as part of their investigations. Images can be uploaded and integrated into the students work.
GPS receivers: Handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers help students to identify their location as they undertake fieldwork. Used alongside tools such as Google Maps, they can help students to produce annotated maps and geographical visualisations.
Other hardware may be employed as the project progresses.
A central concept for the Personal Inquiry project is the development of scripted inquiry learning, where a script is used to guide students and teachers through the inquiry process. The Personal Inquiry toolkit will use these scripts to orchestrate the students' activities and guide them through the inquiry process. The teacher will have authoring and reviewing tools to allow them to select, author and modify the scripts, and to help monitor and guide the students.
The toolkit will be accessed via a web browser. A single web server can be used as a central repository for an inquiry, collating and coordinating the students' work. The students' computers can either access the repository online or the students' can work offline on their computers and synchronise their work when they next connect to the internet.