Opened in September 2003 with the support of the Lilly Endowment, Inc., PRISM helps Indiana teachers of STEM take advantage of digital learning tools to meet the state academic standards. Our mission is to assist Indiana teachers improve their pedagogy in a time-efficient way. To that end, PRISM provides a library of teaching resources and access to Moodle, a secure platform for delivering educational content through the Internet. PRISM also fosters teacher professional development by offering a range of workshops for incorporating new methods and materials in STEM education.
Unlike other digital portals, PRISM specializes in highly interactive mind-ware, such as process simulations, visualizations, modeling packages, cognitive skills builders, serious gaming – in short, all forms of software that increase student task engagement and learning. The project’s main goal is to improve learning in STEM by helping teachers to embrace digital learning tools as extensions of their own dynamic presence in the classroom.
PRISM addresses the gap between the standard curricula of pre-collegiate STEM studies and collegiate education’s more robust ability to assimilate modern Information and Communications Technology (ICT) practices drawn from STEM professions. The PRISM team works with pre-service and in-service teachers to deliver a cohesive, well-designed integration of PRISM support with the state’s STEM curricula standards (see Figure 1).
PRISM has amassed what may be the largest collection of non-textual digital resources available – without charge – to educators. We offer age-appropriate resources, the vast majority of which are carefully designed learning environments serving as cognition facilitators for teaching complex skills.
Most contain mediation – such as scaffolding, tutoring, graphical organizers, and/or visual workspaces that model higher-order concepts in a manner appropriate for early-stage learners. Using our approximately 4,300 item database, middle school teachers create outcomes-oriented activities and modules emphasizing the proficiencies that are required for success in higher education and in the modern workplace.
Figure 1: PRISM’s emphasis on new tools for knowledge workers is exemplary because the approach combines STEM career awareness with outstanding resources for creating challenging academic programs. This union of motivation and achievement gives a student not just the desire but also the ability to pursue post-secondary degrees in STEM and to more easily merge into a technology-based workplace.
As the PRISM life-cycle has matured, we have moved beyond the concept of a convenient, centralized repository of eclectic materials and have emerged as a unified educational treatment. Also, we continue to develop strategies that map our demonstrated strengths onto two recurrent themes in 21st-Century STEM education: (1) workforce enhancement and (2) recruiting under-represented populations into STEM careers.
The entire PRISM team takes pride in being enablers: we facilitate innovation in teaching and learning. We create tools that merge teachers, talent, and technology to advance student accomplishments. Further information is available under these headings:
PRISM’s Suite of Resources: PRISM (www.rose-prism.org) provides five core services:
1. Digital Resources: A library of over 4,300 free, online teaching resources (e.g. simulations, scientific visualizations, virtual labs, collaborative skills builders, process modelers, serious gaming, access to live data) that mirror the digital tools used in the modern STEM workplace.
2. On-Campus or On-Site Workshops: Offering teacher professional development opportunities ranging from one-day to two-weeks. Topics include integrating advanced technology into the classroom (e.g. Lego Robotics, SMART Boards, TI NSpire Mobile Graphic Calculators, Vex Robotics); using PRISM’s resources to support multi-modal learning; blending science and engineering – “from the natural world to the designed world.” Partnerships – (1) US Department of Education; (2) Math – Science Partnership with Vigo County School Corporation; (3) Advanced Technology Grant Indiana Department of Education; (4) Indiana STEM Resources Network (Purdue University), (5) Magnify Learning (www.magnifylearningin.org).
3. Electronic Lesson Plan Builder: In conjunction with PRISM's extensive resources, a tool for teachers to easily integrate their favorite resources into their daily lessons. Creates uniform PDF documents for easy submission or electronic sharing through the PRISM Lesson Plan Library.
4. Distance Education: Three 5-week courses (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) on PRISM’s full-featured, online learning environment (Moodle). We also offer e-training on using our Lesson Plan Builder. Nearly 3,000 Indiana teachers have completed at least one of these courses.
5. Moodle: PRISM provides secure access to the Moodle Learning Management System for Indiana K-12 teachers. PRISM hosts over 1,900 Moodle courses for teachers across the state of Indiana.
PRISM Usage: General traffic data (a metric that includes both registered and unregistered visitors) demonstrate a robust and growing client base. As can be seen from the chart (below), the total number of website hits has grown by over 72 million in the past twelve months – that is from June 2015 through June 2016 . Since opening in September 2003, the website has had over 489 million total hits.
Other important metrics indicate notable growth:
- Average hits per day has moved from 13,063 (06/30/2006) to 214,044 (06/30/2016).
- Total unique visits per month has increased from 5,742 (06/30/2006) to 26,741 (06/30/2016).
- The total number of page views per visitor climbed from 24-to-1 (06/30/2016) to 173-to-1 (06/30/2016), meaning that clientele are spending longer on the site and looking at more features.
- Top Ten Indiana Cities (as of 06/30/2016), rank ordered on number of distinct visits:
We currently have 11,791 registered teachers and 99,007 student accounts. The map below shows their distribution across the state.
PRISM’s Monthly Newsletter: March 2011 saw the inaugural issue of the PRISM Newsletter, a communication tool to let our over 8,500 subscribers know that they can count on PRISM to lead the way by locating and adding resources supporting the changing landscape of education in Indiana to our database.
Each month the PRISM newsletter provides an overview of PRISM web site news for the teaching community. Recent enhancements to searches for lessons, standards, and lesson planning are documented so our subscribers experience a seamless transition. Announcements of free PRISM online course for Moodle and Lesson Planning let our subscribers know when and how to register for courses.
Selected Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) resources are featured each month highlighting PRISM’s vast library of digital teaching and learning tools. Each selection contains verbiage from the resource web site highlighting in-depth the application of the material to the classroom setting. The links are embedded in the PRISM newsletter giving teachers quick access to some of the best teaching and learning tools available. The PRISM newsletter also passes on information about grants and professional development opportunities available for Indiana teachers. The newsletters are archived on the PRISM website for continued reference.
PRISM Talking Points: During the last decade, many components have gone into the PRISM success story. We highlight only a few below.
- PRISM and Teacher Training: PRISM has a strong record of offering teacher professional development on the RHIT campus. From 2008 – 2011, we held four different two-week summer workshops that underscored using engineering competencies within the traditional science curriculum. RHIT engineering and science faculty worked with 30 participants per year to increase discipline competencies and to improve pedagogies. This emphasis on professional renewal supports the national educational mandate of placing a “highly qualified” teacher in every U.S. K-12 classroom within the next few years.
- PRISM and Workforce Enhancement: PRISM offers what may be the state’s largest collection of non-textual resources that mirror the digital tools used in the modern practice of STEM in the workplace and in higher education. This premier website for Indiana 6th—8th grade STEM features learning tools with an emphasis on visualization, simulations, serious gaming, rich context, staged-problem solving, computation, and electronically enabled collaboration / communication. Evidence suggests that these new IT literacies may more strongly appeal to female and minority students than traditional teaching methods for STEM.
- PRISM and Cognitive Skills for the 21st-Century Science, Mathematics, and Engineering: A major transforming agent for education in the upcoming years will be the rapid advancements in informational technology (ICT) used in the workplace. New tools for knowledge workers indicate that the next wave of educational reform may well require a focus on academic standards that incorporate emerging ICT proficiencies into the traditional STEM curricula.
- Rose-Hulman 2010-2011 Excellence in Service Award: In May 2011, the PRISM Project was honored with the 2010-2011 Excellence in Service Award, presented by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. This prestigious annual award recognizes an RHIT group that exemplifies teamwork, exceeds program goals, and demonstrates excellence and innovation.
- PRISM Selected for National Award: In December 2006, PRISM was selected by T.H.E. Journal (Technology Horizons in Education) as one of the top 15 educational technology innovations in the nation (for K-12). Launched in 1972, T.H.E. Journal was the first magazine to cover education technology. Currently, the publication is the largest circulated education technology monthly publication.
- PRISM Named Finalist in State Award: The PRISM team has three-times been selected as a finalist for a TechPoint Mira Award. One of Indiana’s most recognized technology awards, the Mira "awards acknowledge and pay tribute to the top performers, innovators and contributors in technology-related industries. . . ."
What Our Users Say . . . :
The PRISM team periodically requests feedback from our user community. The respondents are keenly aware that teaching is undergoing a fundamental realignment in all facets from pedagogy to expected learning outcomes. Comments suggest that those who responded to our recent request for feedback embrace the challenge and see PRISM as an excellent platform for achieving their instructional goals. Below we extract samples that illustrate what our users find most beneficial about PRISM.