Like a few of my classmates, I have found myself intrigued with many of the readings this week, moving from one article to another as I become more involved in the different aspects of this type of learning, with each new article giving me something new to ponder on. The idea that most caught my interest was that of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations as posited by Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell, and the link to gaming environments. I have long been fascinated by the idea of using game elements in the classroom to increase student engagement and motivation, and AR simulations provide the means to implement this. The technology-mediated narrative and the interactive, situated, collaborative problem solving affordances of the AR simulation were highly engaging, especially among students who had previously presented behavioural and academic challenges in the classroom (Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell).
Winn notes that cognition is embodied in physical activity, that is embedded in the learning environment, and that learning is the result of the adaptation of the learner to the environment and the environment to the learner (Winn, 2002). This idea is corroborated by further research suggesting that learning and cognition are complex social phenomena distributed across mind, activity, space, and time. A student’s engagement and identity as a learner is shaped by his or her collaborative participation in communities and groups, as well as the practices and beliefs of these communities (Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell). The idea of collaboration using Participatory Simulations is reiterated by Collella in the Participations Simulations Project using the Thinking Tags. Participants personal connections to the educational situation enable them to bring their previous experiences to bear during the activity, establish strong connections to the activity and the other participants, and to be able to draw upon their experiences for the future (Collella, 2000).
The idea of using the area around my school to create an AR activity, such as the one presented in Alien Contact, fired my interest in creating such a project. This would be a great way to embody physical activity, science and math into an already familiar environment using digital resources to create the simulation. I was also intrigued by the idea that the narrative was an important component to the activity. This is a gaming feature to engage the students the background story is most important. The problem solving using science and math is embedded in the story. The most significant affordance of AR is its unique ability to create immersive hybrid learning environments that combine digital and physical objects, thereby facilitating the development of process skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and communicating utilized through interdependent collaborative exercises, its ability to blend a fictional narrative with the real and familiar physical environment such as the school playground (Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell).
However, as all of the participatory simulations I discovered used specific technology, perhaps not available to all schools, my questions are these:
How can we use technology already in the hands of our students, such as smart phones or tablets, to engage them in AR participatory simulations?
How can we best leverage the hybrid environments of digital and physical artifacts to create a rich, collaborative inquiry integrating math and science?
How can we interest teachers in integrating AR type simulations into their classroom program?
Vanessa Colella (2000) Participatory simulations: Building collaborative understanding through immersive dynamic modeling, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 9:4, 471-500 doi:10.1207/S15327809JLS0904 4
Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2008). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology,18(1), 7-22. doi:10.1007/s10956-008-9119-1
Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: Embodiment, embeddedness, and dynamic adaptation. Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning, 1(1), 87-114. Full-text document retrieved on January 17, 2013, from: http://www.hitl.washington.edu/people/tfurness/courses/inde543/READINGS-03/WINN/winnpaper2.pdf