The Jasper series attempted to situate problem solving within authentic situations. If I were to create my own math or science adventures, I would follow some of the same principles. However, my main goal would be to create a problem captivating and relevant enough to my students that they would be motivated to learn something new and difficult in order to solve it.
From a Constructivist perspective, I would attempt to include confounding information that would spur students to either assimilate or accommodate the new information into their existing schemas (Piaget, 1973).
I would also aim to create videos where the problem was complex enough to allow for multiple methods and perspectives to add value to the process. Kim & Hannafin’s (2011) suggest a model of problem solving through Identification, Exploration, Reconstruction, Presentation, and Reflection that fits well with this goal.
The structures above are important considerations, but the context/culture are also key to creating something effective. The main challenge of creating a math or science media experience is creating a problem worth solving to the students. Factors like relevance/meaning in the student’s life and safety/trust in the learning environment play an important role in making a question worth answering or not.
When Jasper was created, video production was not as accessible as it is today, and the creators did an admirable job trying to create adventures that were relevant and fit with a wide audience of learners. Now that making a video is so much easier, I would move away from making trying to reach a large audience. The technology available now can be leveraged to create problems tailored to the learners – to their personal context, experiences, and interests.
The Jasper Series as an Example of Anchored Instruction: Theory, Program Description, and Assessment Data. (1992). Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.
Kim, M.C. & Hannafin, M.J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice Computers & Education Volume: 56 Issue: 2
Piaget, J. (1973). To Understand is to Invent: The Future of Education. New York: Grossman Publishers.