Having worked through the MyWorld program along with the literature background on it (Edelson, 2001; Edelson, Salierno, Matese, Pitts, & Sherin, 2002), I am not convinced this software is the right tool for the goals of Learning for Use program. For example, he Planetary Forecaster is an impressive document, which seems to do a good job working within the strategies of LfU, including motivating, constructing and refining knowledge (Edelson, 2001). However, the preliminary results from Edelson (2002) do not inspire a lot of confidence in the program achieving the desired academic outcomes. While students were able to discard misconceptions, they either picked up new misconceptions or were not entirely clear on the actual reasoning behind their new content knowledge.
In terms of earth science, the top student misconceptions are arguably based on seasons, moon phases, rock cycle and earthquakes (Bulunuz & Jarrett, 2010). From this list, I don’t see MyWorld as being an important part of the solution to addressing these misconceptions. Seasons and moon phases in particular have explanations that are rooted in a 3D spatial representation that MyWorld cannot represent. Furthermore, I don’t see how MyWorld plays a significant role in rock cycles and earthquakes, although I can see it as being part of an active learning process for providing support in the process of discovery.
The question then remains as to exactly what non-domain specific technologies are available that can support the LfU cycle. For this, I would look towards WISE. It’s structure and tools can definitely follow the cycle of motivation, construction and refinement, and appropriate java simulations can be inserted or used to help deal with topics that require a 3D spatial environment, such as seasons and moon phases. MyWorld could possibly be added to WISE in some fashion as a useful tool, but its focus as a primary technology used in the design of inquiry project is limited.
Bulunuz, N., & Jarrett, O. S. (2010). The Effects of Hands-On Learning Stations on Building American Elementary Teachers’ Understanding about Earth and Space Science Concepts. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education, 6(2), 85–99.
Edelson, D. C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(3), 355–385.
Edelson, D. C., Salierno, C., Matese, G., Pitts, V., & Sherin, B. (2002). Learning-for-Use in Earth science: Kids as climate modelers. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, New Orleans, Louisiana.