Title:Chicago WebDocent: Web-Based Curriculum from Multiple Museums
Authors:Nenette Luarca, Craig Cunningham, Anna Rochester
Publication:MW2000: Museums and the Web 2000

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has launched a number of initiatives designed to provide teachers and learners with high-quality, standards-based curriculum materials via the World Wide Web. Among these initiatives is our project, the CUIP/Museum Collaboration. This paper will discuss the timeline and process of creating these curriculum modules, highlighting the truly collaboratory nature of the project at all levels, and discuss the lessons we have learned throughout this first year. The presentation will also include a demonstration of the modules in their preliminary stages. The Chicago Public Schools/University of Chicago Internet Project (CUIP) is a cooperative effort between CPS and the University of Chicago. The project's main focus is on making computers and the Web accessible to a cluster of twenty-nine south-side Chicago schools. CUIP also devotes much of its resources to teacher training. It runs a summer Web Institute for Teachers, that teaches teachers how to build curriculum modules utilizing resources available on the Web. Although this training and the modules produced by teachers have dramatically increased the use of the Internet in CUIP schools, teachers rarely have the time necessary to produce high-quality curriculum modules during the academic year. Similarly, while museums are increasingly creating web-based curriculum materials, these materials are often limited by the scope of the museums' collections or expertise. In order to expand the reach of the museums and ensure that the educational materials are usable by teachers, we proposed a collaboration among the University, the CUIP schools, and several Chicago-area museums in April of 1999. The CUIP/Museum Collaboration capitalizes on the amount of high-quality museums in the Chicago area by developing materials that utilize the resources of multiple institutions. The involvement of teachers from the beginning ensures that the project will develop curriculum relevant to the needs of CUIP teachers and students. Funded by the Chicago Public Schools, the CUIP/Museum Collaboration involves three CUIP staff members with expertise in curriculum, museum education, and Web design, nine exceptional CUIP teachers from all levels, and representatives from the Field Museum of Natural History's UrbanWatch Program, the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Oriental Institute Museum. The teachers choose the topics of the four modules according to their classroom needs and curriculum deficiencies. The museum educators assist in the creation of the modules by pointing out the most effective ways their respective collections can be used. The CUIP staff members, working closely with these two groups, write the content for the modules, which will contain engaged learning activities for the Web, classroom, and community. Teachers are involved because they want to find new and compelling ways of addressing the standards, and the museums make this possible by working together and using their collections to complement what needs to be learned in the classroom. The CUIP/Museum Collaboration not only puts the museum in the classroom, these modules enable students to make use of multiple museums at once.