Udomprasert P, Goodman A, Ladd E, Offner S, Houghton H, Johnson E, Sunbury S, Plummer JD, Wright E, Sadler P, et al.WorldWide Telescope in Education. In: Impey C, Buxner S Astronomy Education - A Practitioner’s Guide to the Research. Bristol, UK: IOP Publishing ; In Press.
The American Astronomical Society’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT) project enables terabytes of astronomical images, data, and stories to be viewed and shared among researchers, exhibited in science museums, projected into full-dome immersive planetariums and virtual reality headsets, and taught in classrooms, from middle school to college. We review the WWT ecosystem, how WWT has been used in the astronomical community, and comment on future directions.
When teaching science topics in which objects are too large or too small to observe laboratory settings—as is the case for astrophysics—how do you convey complex and intangible relationships in a meaningful way? Studies have shown that interactive visualization models that address common misconceptions can be powerful learning experiences. This article examines how the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) Ambassadors program has utilized the dynamic environment of the WWT platform to build meaningful representations of complex topics, and effectively address these teaching needs.
Educational technology has attained significant importance as a mechanism for supporting experiential learning of science concepts. However, the growth of this mechanism is limited by the significant time and technical expertise needed to develop such products, particularly in specialized fields of science. We sought to test whether interactive, educational, online software modules can be developed effectively by students as a curriculum compo- nent of an advanced science course. We discuss a set of 15 such modules developed by Harvard University graduate students to demonstrate various concepts related to astronomy and physics. Their successful development of these modules demonstrates that online software tools for education and outreach on specialized topics can be pro- duced while simultaneously fulfilling project-based learn- ing objectives. We describe a set of technologies suitable for module development and present in detail four exam- ples of modules developed by the students. We offer rec- ommendations for incorporating educational software development within a graduate curriculum and conclude by discussing the relevance of this novel approach to new online learning environments like edX.
We give a brief overview of some key features of WorldWide Telescope and its Ambassadors Program, and we describe two goals for expanding the program in the coming year: scaling up training efforts; and developing “plug and play” Visualization Lab modules that teach key Earth and Space Science concepts to students while emphasizing important scientific processes and skills. We discuss several different ways that members of the astronomy education and outreach community can incorporate WWT-based materials into their work.