The seminar is jointly organized by CITE and Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong
The use of games to serve educational purposes, sometimes referred to as “serious games,” has been receiving considerable recent attention. Implicit in much of the research in this area is that learning mainly occurs in the virtual experiences of the game and that later the learners will in turn be able to apply or use their new understandings and knowledge skills to new problems and contexts. In contrast, the research discussed in this talk explores the thesis that virtual experiences may be able to reflect salient aspects of the cultural practices of science as part of the learning activities; that is, learning does not wholly occur “in” the virtual experiences of a serious game, but rather, learning is mediated by virtual experiences that reflect culturally authentic practices in modern science. Specifically, the practice of science in the 21st century is increasingly embracing computational modeling techniques to compliment traditional quantitative and observational approaches for conducting research. Yet, despite calls that students learn science by doing science as inquiry, students in Australia and internationally have relatively few opportunities to do computational scientific inquiry in ways that mirror computational modeling being done in scientific research. In this talk, I discuss work over the past two years in which my team has developed an agent-based virtual environment consisting of an immersive virtual world for experiencing and exploring a complex ecosystem as part of "virtual" biology fieldwork. The system incorporates predator-prey interactions based on computational biology modeling techniques that are linked to an agent-based modeling tool. I discuss findings from a recent study in which grade 9 students use the Omosa Virtual World over a two week period to engage in computational scientific inquiry as they learned about experimental design and a predator-prey ecosystem. Implications of this approach are discussed as well as plans for new collaborative international research to further develop this computational scientific inquiry approach for learning science (and other subjects) in formal and informal learning environments.
<p>Michael J. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. He also is the Co-director of the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo) and Deputy Director, Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education. His research has focused on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. Most recently, his work has explored learning with immersive virtual environments and agent-based modeling and visualization tools, as well as cognitive and learning issues related to understanding new scientific perspectives emerging from the study of complex systems. In July 2012, he served as the Chair of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, which had the conference theme of "the future of learning."</p>