Promoting Learning through Annotation of Embodiment (PLAE)
The Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies Program funds efforts that will help envision the next generation of learning technologies and advance what we know about how people learn in technology-rich environments. Cyberlearning Exploration (EXP) Projects explore the viability of new kinds of learning technologies by designing and building new kinds of learning technologies and studying their possibilities for fostering learning and challenges to using them effectively. The Promoting Learning through Annotation of Embodiment (PLAE) project will research how new motion-tracking technologies and augmented reality can be adapted to support young children's science learning in the classroom. Embodied resources - gesture, physical motion, and one's location in space - are increasingly recognized as important modalities for students to engage and better understand science and mathematics concepts. However, these embodied resources need to be connected to other intellectual resources more readily recognized by school-notation systems, mathematical equations, graphs, and scientific vocabulary. The project will investigate how the ability to label, identify, and view key elements of activity within augmented reality learning environments support student reflection on scientific content in the physical sciences. Project research will help develop the foundations for the application of technology systems employing embodied resources combined with annotation to support children's learning of basic science concepts. Because of the popularity of motion-tracking interfaces for commercial computer gaming (e.g. the Xbox Kinect and Wii), the capabilities of less expensive motion-tracking systems are rapidly advancing to the point where practical classroom applications can be developed in the near future.
The project will research how annotations of embodied play simulations in an augmented reality environment can direct student attention towards key scientific concepts while providing them with opportunities to reflect upon and revise their understanding of those concepts. After development and pilot testing of the system, students will be assigned to one of two conditions that involve either: (1) all student-generated annotations or (2) all teacher- and researcher-created annotations. By contrasting these two models, the project will be able to explore in detail the role of annotation in supporting students' reflection within embodied modeling activities, and to further demonstrate the value that is added by allowing students to design and negotiate their own annotations. There will be two main sources of data for each of the experiments: (1) a pre-post content measure to assess overall growth in student understanding of the particulate nature of matter, and (2) project coding and analysis of videos of student activity to analyze the types of learning processes promoted by the technology and curriculum, with a focus on how the annotation features support reflection about the underlying rules of the system. The results of this research will inform the design of future educational technologies which rely upon embodied motion.