The theoretical framework that underpins the Jasper series is anchored instruction. Anchored instruction is instruction that is “situated in engaging, problem-rich environments that allow sustained exploration by students and teachers” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992). The Jasper series is a video based instruction format that presents students with a complex problem, which requires many subproblems to be generated and solved for the main complex problem to be addressed. It uses an engaging narrative with embedded data to present the students with all the information they may require to engage with the complex problem. This instructional approach promotes several teaching and learning activities that are central to constructivism. This includes generative learning, collaboration, active learning and engagement, and construction of knowledge.
Certainly the Jasper series could be presented without the use of technology. However technology does enhance the teaching and learning activities mentioned above. For example, the use of video could make the material more engaging due to the increased realism afforded by the video format (though it is a little dated now). This notion is supported by several papers, as highlighted by Taylor and Parsons (2011) in their review of the literature on student engagement. It can also be helpful for those students with learning challenges where an audio only narrative or reading only narrative would present a significant barrier.
Medical education has certainly moved in this direction. During the first two years, we have increased exposure of students to real clinical environments where they would learn though clinical encounters in a situated learning environment. In addition to this, their didactic lectures are taught along side problem-based learning activities, which is essentially anchored instruction. Our school currently does not use a video format, but a written digital document is provided to students in small groups, which gives students a clinical scenario. They then discuss the case to figure out what is going on with the patient. In all groups, the members decide on what further knowledge is needed in order to move forward with the case scenario. During this discussion portion, they are not allowed to use any resources other than their own ideas and experiences, which promotes discussion, collaboration and reflection. Once they have established learning objectives for the group, the first session ends and they have 1-2 days to research their learning objectives (either collaboratively or individually, depending on the group). They then reconvene and discuss the learning objectives before more of the clinical scenario is revealed. Typically, each case is discussed over 2-3 group sessions.
I think that in our problem-based learning groups, technology can be used to enhance collaboration and generative learning. For example, concepts maps may be useful to organize the group’s thoughts in a visual manner, adding to collaboration and generation of ideas. The use of something like Google Docs which affords collaboration asynchronously could also be helpful in collaboration outside of the group meetings. A video format could also be helpful to refine students’ observational skills as this is a critical part of the medical assessment, and again help to create an authentic/realistic environment.
Cognition, Vanderbilt TGA. The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. ETR&D. 1992;40(1):65-80. doi:10.1007/BF02296707.
Taylor, L. & Parsons, J. (2011). Improving Student Engagement. Current Issues in Education,14(1). Retrieved from http://cie.asu.edu/