Teaching with Cyberinfrastructure: Benefits and Potential Problems

Teaching with data

Some of the reasons for using data in general are explored in detail in the following resources

Benefits to teaching in the context of cyberinfrastructure

  • Using cyberinformatic databases allows educators to rapidly produce customized datasets for a variety of teaching purposes
  • Teaching with cyberinformatic databases highlights the scale and diversity of natural materials and systems
  • Exposing students to cyberinformatic databases forces them to make reasoned decisions regarding data quality, data management, and other issues that scientists routinely face
  • Given an appropriate level of structure and guidance, online databases can be explored by the student in a way that promotes discovery-based learning

Some potential problems to consider

Several factors complicate the use of cyberinformatic databases and tools in educational settings:

  • Many cyberinformatic databases are written for the primary benefit of professional researchers, and are not necessarily aimed at the needs and abilities of undergraduate-level students.
  • Many cyberinformatic databases do not have well-developed educational support structures
  • Cyberinformatic databases may not be as "clean" in terms of completeness and consistency as smaller datasets hand-selected by the professor
  • Cyberinformatic databases may be somewhat overwhelming to beginning students (and most instructors, as well!)