Introduction

The WebLabs project has now finished. On this site we provide materials (brochure, video, related papers and project deliverables) to give the reader a sense of what the project was about. There is also a wealth of information including tools and student work available at www.weblabs.org.uk/wlplone/

WebLabs investigated creating new ways of representing and expressing mathematical and scientific knowledge in European communities of young learners (10-14 years). The focus was on collaborative construction, description and interpretation of how things work. Our aim was to transform the web into a medium in which European students collaboratively construct and critique each others' evolving knowledge and working models.

WebLabs investigated mathematical and scientific concepts in three knowledge domains: Numbers, Big numbers and Infinity, Kinematics and Dynamics, and Model Systems and Randomness. A further component was Tangibles: we built an interface with physical devices together with the set of sensors and actuators capable of instantiating a two-way mapping between experiments in the real and virtual worlds.

We built sets of Transparent Modules which can be combined and reused for the building of more complex functionalities; are shareable and adaptable to multiple grain sizes according to learner needs; are transparent (mechanisms can be easily inspected and modified) and employ multimedia and multimodal functionalities. These tools were built in ToonTalk, a state-of-the-art programming system where abstract computational concepts are represented by concrete animated analogues.

Students across European sites created, shared and modified web-based reports of their understandings of selected knowledge domains as they developed during work on the carefully designed educationally powerful activities that involved building and debugging models with sets of TMs. The webreports included working models along with multi-media descriptions, interpretations and reflections. Our WebReports collaboration system is available at www.weblabs.org.uk/wlplone/.