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  • WISE = Web-based inquiry science environment, a free on-line science learning environment for students in grades 4-12 created by a large team around Marcia C. Linn University of California, Berkely

“WISE is a simple yet powerful learning environment where students examine realworld evidence and analyze current scientific controversies. Our curriculum projects are designed to meet standards and complement your current science curriculum, and your grade 5-12 students will find them exciting and engaging. A web browser is all they need to take notes, discuss theories, and organize their arguments... they can even work from home! Our Teacher Area lets you explore new projects and grade your students' work on the Web. Best of all, everything in WISE is completely free.” (WISE homepage retrieved 15:13, 19 July 2006 (MEST)).

See also: inquiry-based learning, Project-based science model, Scaffolded knowledge integration ...

WISE features and instructional design model

Features according to the introductory slides on the WISE website:

  • The software guides students through "evidence" web pages that provide content, "notes" and "hints" that encourage students to reflect, and other tools for data visualization, causal modeling, simulations, on-line discussion with classmates, and assessment

WISE is based on Linn's (1995) instructional design model called Scaffolded knowledge integration (SKI).

  • Usually, students work on WISE projects in pairs and in the classroom. Collaboration encourages them to share their ideas and support each other. Meanwhile, the teacher has the freedom to circulate around the room, going over each pair's progress and discussing ideas.
  • The teacher frequently regroups the class to discuss their findings and questions. In addition, sometimes off-line activities, such as experiments or class debates, play an integral role in a project's lesson plans.
  • There is also a project authoring environment for teachers,
  • Integrate web materials in a project-based context
  • Scaffold students when the work collaboratively


See the WISE homepage, e.g:

  • Deformed Frogs
  • Earthquakes
  • Genetically Modified Foods
  • HIV
  • Houses in the Desert
  • How Far Does Light Go?
  • Malaria
  • Plants in Space
  • Scientific Controversy
  • Thermodynamics
  • Water Quality
  • Wolves

Note: This environment requires registration and is free for teachers and their classes (in principle also from other countries).

Distribution and evaluation

(quick notes taken at Alpine RDV CSCL 2007, to be redone ...)

  • This system is used in several countries, some international cooperation
  • It pioneered portal-based authoring and enacting technology
  • There is a nice "open" curriculum library
  • So far, over 100000 students and 25000 teachers
Forks & integration
  • Fork of the WISE/Viten system (Norway). Both are separate now.
  • UC-WISE partnership (higher education)
  • Partnership with Concord (GenScope). The idea was to integrate microworlds into Wise.

These experiences showed that WISE was not adaptive enough to fit other needs

Some not-so-positives evaluations led to four postulates that such systems should address
  • Scalability
  • Sustainabilty
  • Accessibility
  • Dynamic Evolution
WISE fits quite well some "open source" and "open contents" concepts, e.g.
  • Investment in human resources, services, not code
  • non-linear return
  • standardization
  • ...

Experience gained from WISE led to SAIL



  • Clancy, M., Titterton, N., Ryan, C., Slotta, J., and Linn, M. 2003. New roles for students, instructors, and computers in a lab-based introductory programming course. In Proceedings of the 34th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (Reno, Navada, USA, February 19 - 23, 2003). SIGCSE '03. ACM Press, New York, NY, 132-136. Abstract/HTML/PDF (Access restricted).
  • Cuthbert, A. J., Clark, D. B. & Linn, M. C. (2002). WISE learning communities: Design considerations. K.A. Renninger & W. Shumar (Eds.), Building Virtual Communities: Learning and Change in Cyberspace. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press.
  • Linn, M. C. (1995). Designing computer learning environments for engineering and computer science: The scaffolded knowledge integration framework. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 4(2), 103-126. [1] (Access restricted)
  • Linn, M. C. (2005). WISE design for lifelong learning - Pivotal Cases. Peter Gardenfors and Petter Johansson (Eds.) Cognition, Education and Communication Technology. Mahwah, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Linn, M.C. (2003). WISE Research - Promoting International Collaboration. Dimitri Psillos, Petros Kariotoglou, Vassilis Tselfes, Evripides Hatzikraniotis, George Fassoulopoulos, Maria Kallery (Eds). Science Education Research in the Knowledge-Based Society. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Linn, M.C., Clark, D. B. & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE Design for Knowledge Integration. S. Barab (Ed.). Building Sustainable Science Curriulum: Acknowledge and Accommodation Local Adaptation [Special Issue]Science Education. 87: 517-538.
  • Linn, M. C. & Slotta, J. D. (2000, October) WISE science. Educational Leadership, 29-32.
  • James D. Slotta, Douglas B. Clark, Britte Cheng, (2002). Integrating Palm Technology into WISE Inquiry Curriculum: Two School District Partnerships, Proceedings of CSCL 2002 HTML

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