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Cognitive Affordances of the Cyberinfrastructure for Science and Math Learning


Educational Media International Volume 48, Number 1, ISSN 0952-3987


The "cyberinfrastucture" is a broad informational network that entails connections to real-time data sensors as well as tools that permit visualization and other forms of analysis, and that facilitates access to vast scientific databases. This multifaceted network, already a major boon to scientific discovery, now shows exceptional promise in advancing educational goals, especially in fostering deep and authentic understanding in science and scientific practice. In this paper, we outline the key features of the cyberinfrastructure that make it far more than the latest technological innovation. In particular, we identify six cognitive affordances for education that are unique to the cyberinfrastructure and that, in combination, set it apart from its predecessors: (a) immediate original data, (b) distributed expert networks, (c) analytical and visualization tools, (d) instantaneous retrieval of source documents, (e) forums for public discourse, and (f) opportunities for metacognitive structuring of ill-defined problems. We conclude by drawing implications for students' engagement in science, building a new cadre of science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) professionals, and preparing of a scientifically literate citizenry for a world in which many key social issues are comprehended only through a scientific lens.


Martinez, M.E. & Peters Burton, E.E. (2011). Cognitive Affordances of the Cyberinfrastructure for Science and Math Learning. Educational Media International, 48(1), 17-26. Retrieved October 22, 2019 from .

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