The Jasper series uses context-specific stories (“anchors”) to serve as a guide for problem solving. Anchored instruction, in the Jasper series, uses interactive video clips stored on a videodisc and accompanying physical items (such as maps) to help students with problem solving by presenting to them a situation. Anchored instruction and examples such as the Jasper series help to support learning by providing meaningful, real-world contexts to math concepts as well as a way to scaffold complex problem solving. The authors note that Jasper provides generative learning; a way for students to regularly use their current understanding to connect and construct new knowledge.
As technology has improved vastly since Jasper’s invention, there are now ways to further enhance Jasper’s effectiveness. For example, the amount of data that can be stored on a flash drive many times greater than that of the videodiscs the researchers used. This would allow for many more or longer videos, providing opportunity to develop more engaging and deeper problems for students to view. It would also be quite the experience for the students if anchored instruction were to take place in virtual reality. This would allow students to explore the environment that the problem is situated in, perhaps looking for clues or manipulating objects to learn more about them. In addition, the researchers noted that another benefit of the Jasper series was the embedded data in the problems themselves, and virtual reality would allow even more data to be shown when a student examines an object.
In particular, the object manipulation will be extremely useful in math learning. Particularly in junior grades, many math concepts focus on objects and their characteristics such as surface area and volume which lends itself well to augmented or virtual reality manipulatives. As they progress into senior math with more abstract concepts, dynamically changing graphs will allow students to alter equations and see, in real-time, the effects on the graph to better understand the patterns and relationships between values.
However, the Jasper method is not without fault. Its narration still feels as if someone is reading a word question from a textbook, but overlaid on top of visuals. Perhaps relaying the information (such as the plane’s fuel tank size) in dialogue between the characters in the video, as opposed to narrating it, may have it feel more natural. Also, aside from its somewhat dated delivery method, one aspect that may be limiting is that the videos do not provide any feedback or ability to adapt to students’ progress. For example, assessment of alternative solutions would have to be done by the teacher, but an expanded, interactive virtual reality environment may allow students to test solutions and self-assess their viability and validity. But the concept of provide an interactive space to “anchor” student learning is one worth considering.
Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.