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Making Learning Real: Turning Sim City into "Sim Science"! . Diane Jass Ketelhut Temple University POLL 1. When was the following written?

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Making learning real turning sim city into sim science

Making Learning Real: Turning Sim City into "Sim Science"!

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Temple University

Poll 1

  • When was the following written?

    “If we are in earnest about universal education, we must … recognize that our education succeeds just to the extent that we make it focus upon the real activities of life”

    a) within the year b) in the last 25 years

    c) 1940-1980 d) prior to 1940

Diane Jass Ketelhut

1895 charles degarmo
1895Charles DeGarmo

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Outline of talk
Outline of Talk

  • What is authentic learning?

  • Why do it?

  • How can we do it and how can technology mediate this?

  • How can we assess learning in context?

Diane Jass Ketelhut

What is authentic learning
What is authentic learning?

  • Real world connections

  • Science-technology-society

  • Scientific Inquiry

  • Integration of technology

    But what is it???

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Some definitions
Some definitions

  • “The quality of having correspondence to the world of scientists” (Barab & Hay, 2001)

  • Work that is “coherent, meaningful, and purposeful to the practitioners of the culture” (Griffin, 1995)

  • “The ordinary practices of the culture” (Brown, Collins, and Duguid, 1989)

Diane Jass Ketelhut

But the it is under debate
But, the “it” is under debate…

  • Exactly like real life? Or real life ‘lite’?

  • Is this a problem-centered curriculum?

  • What level of complexity should be involved?

  • Is it a set of skills: collaboration, synthesis, adaptability?

  • Can it be conducted in a classroom or must it be ‘out in the world’?

  • Can it be simulated? Or must there be the real ‘tools of the trade’?

Diane Jass Ketelhut

And the culture is key
And the culture is key…

  • Answers depend on context and purposes

  • “Scientists and students seemed to define actual work differently. Though some of the scientists worried about giving the students “make work,” for the students, feeling that the scientist mentor valued what they were doing was of greatest importance.” (Bowman, 2008)

Diane Jass Ketelhut

As are purposes
…as are purposes

  • An authentic learning experience can take on diverse appearances depending on the learning goals.

  • Authentic education then becomes like a stew…Not single experiences but a synthesis of experiences

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Learning goals in science might be
Learning goals in science might be:

  • For students to:

    • Develop the habits of minds of scientists

    • Engage with practices of scientists:

      • Pose their own questions

      • Form hypotheses about rich phenomena

      • Collect data in complex settings

      • Experiment using tools

      • Analyze and infer from data

    • Collaborate with experts and peers

  • For teachers to:

    • Facilitate student understanding of practices of scientists

    • Support student engagement in science

    • Develop student interest in scientific careers

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Why authentic learning
Why authentic learning?

  • New theories of learning

    • Situated theory

      • Learning is best conducted in the situation in which it will be used

    • Community of practice

      • Teaching becomes tacit

      • Learning is high

      • Must involve members with varying levels of expertise

  • Intentional

  • Motivational

    “I know she definitely relied on us to help her with [a presentation]…. Being able to help her… was awesome.”

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • Classroom and school setup

  • Resources

  • Safety

  • Teacher knowledge

    Technology can mediate these constraints while adding a level of authenticity of their own

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Technology as a mediator
Technology as a mediator

  • Why can technology help?

    • Affects thinking and learning: “effects with…effects from…effects through” (Salomon and Perkins, 2005)

    • Facilitates apprenticeship and situated learning

  • Issues:

    • Choices are constrained

    • Behavior is guided by rules

    • Can be too ‘techie’

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Role of technology
Role of Technology

  • Facilitates apprenticeships

  • Immerses participants in virtual authentic environments

  • Integrates real and virtual environments

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • Traditionally, small groups of students working with scientists

  • Technology can facilitate

  • Mars Student Intern Program—a scientist-student partnership

  • Mars Student Imaging Program—working with real data but not necessarily with scientists

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • “What I'll remember most is going to that THEMIS website, because you have so many different types of things that are on Mars and the pictures were great. And the whole entire experience was great because you don't feel like it's just another grade that you are going through just to get an A, you actually could find something and something that could be important for everybody else”

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Poll 2

  • Think of a scientist in your head before looking at the poll choices

  • What did you scientist look like?

    a) Crazy haired b) Female

    c) White d) Old

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Features of apprenticeships
Features of apprenticeships

  • Contact with real scientists and/or real data

  • Increased motivation and self-efficacy

  • As contact time with scientists increases, student population size decreases

    “animated pedagogical agents” as scientists

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Making learning real turning sim city into sim science

Bowman, 2008

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Virtual environments
Virtual Environments

  • 2D and 3D virtual environments

  • Immersion in virtual contexts withdigital artifacts and avatar-based identities

  • Can embed historical and social context

    • e.g., studying German, you can create an authentic German town

  • Examples

    • River City, Dede et al—6th-12th graders

    • Wolf den, Annetta et al—teachers

    • Quest Atlantis, Barab et al—9-12 year olds

    • Whyville—8-13 year olds

Diane Jass Ketelhut

River city
River City

  • Take on the role of an epidemiologist

    • Gather data

    • Use virtual tools

    • Conduct controlled experimentation

  • Complexity midway between typical classroom experiments and real world

  • Have an authentic experience within the classroom

  • In action…

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • I “felt like a scientist for the first time”

  • 1/3 identify virtual tools as key

  • “Instead of taking notes and doing hands-on experiments we were on the computer conducting a real-life possible serario [sic] for an experiment.”

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Features of virtual environments
Features of Virtual Environments

  • Not contact with a scientist but experience being a scientist

  • Identity immersion enhances experience for students

  • Raise self-efficacy and motivation

  • Plays into millennial learning styles:

    • Avenue into the technological skills and interests of students

    • A non-linear approach to learning

  • Situated learning experiences without leaving the classroom!

  • Simplifies real world, but is virtual ‘real’?

  • Different voices are heard

  • Open-ended nature puts onus of participation on student with uneven results

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Augmented reality
Augmented Reality

  • Combines physical world with virtual world contexts

  • Layers virtual simulated information into the real world

  • Examples:

    • Environmental Detectives Klopfer et al

    • Outbreak Klopfer et al

    • Mad City Squire et al

    • Alien Contact! (Dede, Squire & Klopfer)

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Making learning real turning sim city into sim science

Environmental Detectives

Computer simulation on handheld computer triggered by real world location

  • A virtual oil spill on campus

  • Provided with “budget”

  • Need to determine source of pollution by virtually drilling sampling wells in physical location

  • Interview virtual players

  • Work in teams representing different interests (EPA, Industry, etc.)

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • “I liked several aspects, but honestly the best part was the physical activity. Because I was fully participating (not just cognitively), I felt very engaged, almost oblivious to the people around us. This physicality - much like participating in sports - involved me completely, and made the understanding more vivid and memorable.”

  • “I wished that more aspects of the environment had been interactive and provided feedback”

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • Next generation allowing dynamic interactions

  • Participants can become infected

  • Changes student involvement…from objective to subjective concern

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Features of augmented reality
Features of Augmented Reality

  • No contact with a real scientist but experience in various roles

  • Role play encourages collaboration in an authentic manner

  • Identity immersion enhances experience for students

  • Merger of virtual and physical world

    • Increases immersion

    • More senses and thus learning styles are involved

  • But issue of complexity is key: how much added information to include?

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • “To change our expectations about what students should know and be able to do will involve also changing both the standards by which student achievements are judged and the methods by which student’s accomplishments are assessed.” (Sheingold and Frederiksen 1994)

  • Technology opens up a “brave new world” for assessment to match these new strategies:

    • Databases record all student utterances and interactions that take place within the environment.

    • Algorithms can be written to translate behaviors into indicators of learning

Diane Jass Ketelhut

New technologies allow
New Technologies allow:

  • Apprenticeships with experts

  • Simulated authentic environments in the classroom

  • Virtual reality to be layered onto real environments

  • Different voices to be heard

  • Collaboration in creating knowledge

  • Opportunities for new formats of assessment

  • Situating assessment in authentic contexts

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Questions outstanding
Questions outstanding

  • What aspects facilitate learning and engagement?

  • Do these work better for some students than others?

  • Is the time investment (from design as well as teaching perspective) worthwhile?

  • Will these help make education universal as DeGarmo wanted or are they just another tool?

Diane Jass Ketelhut

Final words from two students
Final words from two students

  • 3rd grader quoted in the speak up survey 2006: “My school should make sure that the science teachers are good and the computers are always working.”

  • Middle schooler after working on River City

Diane Jass Ketelhut


  • Barab, S. A., and Hay, K. E. (2001). Doing science at the elbows of experts: Issues related to the science apprenticeship camp. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(1),70-102.

  • Bowman, C. (2008) unpublished dissertation and qualifying paper, Harvard University.

  • Brown, J. S., & Thomas, D. (2006). You play World of Warcraft? You’re hired! Wired, 14(4), 120.

  • Dieterle, E., Dede, C., & Schrier, K. (2007). “Neomillennial” learning styles propagated by wireless handheld devices. In M. Lytras & A. Naeve (Eds.), Ubiquitous and pervasive knowledge and learning management: Semantics, social networking and new media to their full potential (pp. 35–66). Hershey, PA: Idea Group, Inc.

  • Rosenbaum, Klopfer, and Perry JSET

  • Salomon, G., & Perkins, D. (2005). Do technologies make us smarter? Intellectual amplification with, of and through technology. In R. J. Sternberg & D. Preiss (Eds.), Intelligence and technology: The impact of tools on the nature and development of human abilities (pp. 71–86). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  • Sheingold, K., & Frederiksen, J. (1994). Using technology to support innovative assessment. In B. Means (Ed.), Technology and education reform: The reality behind the promise (pp. 111–132). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Squire, K & Jan, M (2007) Mad City Mystery: Developing Scientific Argumentation Skills with a Place-Based Augmented Reality Game on Handheld Computers. JSET