GEMS: Learning Online
(Gender Equity in Math and Science)

What can we learn about online learning? Can highly charged content be explored online? Can teachers learn gender equity on-line and do they transfer this to their classrooms? These and other questions were the focus of a three-year research project called GEMS: Learning Online, funded by the National Science Foundation.

The Gender, Diversities & Technology Institute at EDC, together with its partners, WestEd, TERC, Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), and the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, are collaborating on a major national research project to determine the impact of online learning on gender-equitable math and science instruction. Funded by the National Science Foundation's Programs for Gender Equity, GEMS may be one of the first to look comprehensively at the relationships between the design and structure of online courses, the ways in which individuals interact and learn on line, and the outcomes of that experience. This national collaborative will be joined by a national advisory group, including representatives from Georgia Tech, Carnegie Mellon, the Concord Consortium, and Washington State University.

Together the collaborative will explore how gender equity can effectively be taught online, what are the implications of gender, race/ethnicity, personality type/learning styles, and other factors in the design, participation, and outcomes of online learning, and what is the impact on teacher attitude/behavior and on student outcomes.

GEMS will provide vital data on the effectiveness of one type of online gender equity training, as well as the suitability of various aspects of gender equity training to this delivery format. It will also strengthen infrastructure by building a community of math and science teachers trained in gender equity who communicate and support each other. Finally, the project will build on current networks, working to create new conversations that will evolve over time and make the necessary linkages among math and science, gender equity, and educational technology professionals. One such conversation was held recently with GEMS advisors who began to explore the question of "If gender and diversities were truly valued on the internet, what would online learning look like?"