Application 4: Online Learning in K-12 Schools Podcast

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In this week’s learning resources we explored the strategy of “Generating and Testing Hypotheses” (Pitler et al, 2007). The core tools for implementing this practice contain an overriding technology component. Traditionally, this concept is considered scientific in nature; however, it can be applied in many other subjects not related to science. Generating and testing a hypothesis can be accomplished using six different tasks. They are systems analysis, problem solving, historical investigation, invention, experimental inquiry, and decision making. Many, if not all, of these tasks relate to constructivist/constructionist learning theory. In each instance students have the opportunity to create an artifact of some kind that builds upon their knowledge and strengthens their comprehension of the concepts.

There are several technologies that relate to the concept of generating and testing hypotheses and make this strategy more engaging for students. Spreadsheet software enables students to gather, organize, and analyze data and then draw conclusions based upon their findings. The artifact that is created provides a tool for students to learn the content the curriculum entails. Data collection tools use inquiry as a means of learning. They “enable students to see the bigger picture and recognize patterns (in data)” (Pitler et al p. 210, 2007). Web resources and gaming software allow students to put themselves in real-world situations that might not be possible to achieve otherwise due to financial or impractical reasons. These include virtual simulations, multiplayer strategy games, and online role playing games.


Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


  1. I really agree with your post. Spreadsheets are a great way to utilize data and then manipulate that data to create an effective visualization for the students. I would like to incorporate this at the second grade level, however the main challenge is to make it kid friendly. I do know how familiar you are with some of the elementary science programs, but ours are named SIE or Foss kits. In our grade we have two main units (soils and changes). Changes deal with physical and chemical change. For a second grade student it really goes into depth and the students generate and test hypotheses in an inquiry method. I enjoy the technology and would love to bring something like spreadsheets in for the students, but time is a big concern and making it user friendly is a big concern as well. Any suggestions would help. Thanks for the insights!

    -Nick Renninger

  2. Spreadsheets such as Excel are so powerful yet something I would have not looked at using with my students to analyze data and draw conclusions. I agree with Nicolas that making spreadsheets student friendly may be a concern, however maybe someone will develop some education software that would fit this (maybe an IPod app. I also think that virtual simulations are going to assume a larger role in education and that will be exciting for all.

  3. All,

    I agree with your assessments of the value of virtual simulations. When I began playing with our new Smartboard, I was enamored with the "virtual frog dissection" that was included in the basic program. Programs like this are worthwhile on so many levels, and are becoming more and more prevalent. Hopefully we will see this trend continue and extend to more subjects so that we can continue to bring worthwhile technology to the classroom.


  4. Ah the excitement of technology and the crunch of time constraints. We all know that pick and choose and summer lesson surfing is the only way we get it done.

    I have recently done a bit of pre-surfing for my students to narrow down the option anxiety. It can be so time consuming, by offering a few key sights, but not limiting to only those, I am opening up and narrowing down the surfing for ideas and content.