Monthly Archives: June 2017

SenseMaker Makes Sense

The WISE project I’ve decided to look deeper into, is: What Impacts Global Climate Change? This project is intended for grade 6-8 students and incorporates elaborate lessons. It includes great inquiry questions, videos, electronic manipulatives, multiple choice, short answer questions and detailed diagrams. Once thing I’ve noticed that is missing, is the ability to share and showcase your ideas, arguments and answers. Linn, Clark and Slotta (2003) state that representations enhance students’ understanding of scientific materials. As such, there is a tool created by WISE design teams called SenseMaker. Students use WISE Evidence Pages in these projects to create their arguments. SenseMaker allows teachers to see how student ideas are constructed, allow other students to see arguments of their peers, and make relationships among other scientific material visible to others. In the project, What Impacts Global Climate Change? I would add SenseMaker to make this project include group collaboration to use in my class.

An inquiry question that is posed on this WISE Project states: “How do you think greenhouse gases are involved with global temperature and energy? Make your best scientific guess!” According to Kim and Hannafin (2011), “…to scaffold students’ scientific inquiry, teachers use technologies to access real-world examples to vividly illustrate the nature of science as complex, social, and challenging (p. 409).” This WISE project illustrates just that. By slowly breaking down this project into smaller chunks; this project includes scaffolding to assist the students seek information related to the problem.

What about basics first, structured problem solving and guided generation methods? (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992). Do teachers need to teach their students certain concepts or methods before they let them research it on their own? Or do they prefer to let students find out their own answer? I believe the WISE project I’ve chosen to examine here doesn’t need a basics first method of teaching. The students have enough information given to delve deeper and find the information out on their own. Would it be more beneficial to the students if they were in groups and had the SenseMaker tool attached to the project? Most definitely.


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development40, 65-80.

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education56(2), 403-417.

Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science education87(4), 517-538.

Sink or Float and Archimedes

I looked at the project “sink or float” project ID 20961. In this lesson students examine Archimedes and the ideas of density and buoyancy. I decided that I really like how the lesson had students return to check on their thinking but to support the SKI framework it would be good to capture student ideas at the start of the unit and have them return to that at their first check-in to see what ideas they had already changed or grown or what misconceptions had been corrected to hold a more coherent idea. I built a capturing prior knowledge page that had a series of open answer questions. I did not continue but finding a way to have these answers show up with the thoughts they gather in their Eureka baskets and then show how they can use those thoughts to better answer the questions, or demonstrate their knowledge would support the students being active constructors of knowledge.

Throughout this lesson it follows both SKI and constructivist principles. Continuing with the SKI framework as described by Linn and Slotta (2009) students show initial knowledge, work through a series of steps that regularly offer opportunities to check in and see how students’ knowledge is progressing. Also students are offered the opportunity to collect new ideas in their “Eureka” basket to hold for later use. At the end of each unit of study student reflect back on the ideas in their Eureka basket. This not only supports the SKI model but constructivist principles as students are being active constructors of their knowledge. Fosnot (2005) describes four main principles of a constructivist lesson that include: prior knowledge, focus on concept, challenge student’s ideas, and apply new ideas to similar situations. This lesson uses these principles throughout the lesson design. Students learn the fundamentals and the use them to build additional knowledge. Once the ideas of buoyancy are developed through water displacement they apply that newly constructed knowledge to volume of air. The only other piece I would add would be some work with partners to build capacity through discussion. This lesson appears to only be designed for one students walking through it at a time.

Fosnot, C.T. (2005). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. (2nd Edition) Teachers College Press

Linn, M., & Slotta, J. (2009). Wise Science: Inquiry and the Internet in Science Classrooms. Teachers College Press, 0-97. Retrieved from

Plate Tectonics and Indigenous Ways of Knowing

My first impression of WISE is that there are a lot of opportunities. I enjoy that students are able to receive feedback quickly. The layout is very conducive for building on previous knowledge. While I am not a fan of multiple choice, I see how it could easily show a snapshot of student content knowledge allowing us to see if students were on the right track. I struggled with adding some images to the “remixed” plan and general editing  – perhaps this would be easier if I was starting from scratch. Overall, WISE forces the educator to examine their PCK and scaffold the learning experience for their students.

After my exploration of the WISE library for Grades 6-8, I chose to customize Plate Tectonics ID 6311. This WISE explores a number of important areas: earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountains. The summary states: “ Students investigate geologic patterns in the United States, then delve deeper into Earth’s layers to understand how surface features and events arise from invisible inner processes”. I chose this particular WISE because I have enjoyed teaching plate tectonics in the past. While I liked this start of this project and the scaffolding it provided for students by accessing their background knowledge (Linn, Clark, and Slotta, 2002), I chose to add Big Ideas, Guiding Questions, and First Peoples Ways of Knowing from the B.C. Science 8 Curriculum (British Columbia Ministry of Education, 2017). I decided to add this into the Introduction to provide more of a framework for this WISE project and to add some depth and discussion to the content. I also began to add Canadian content (maps, statistics, etc) to make it more relevant to our B.C. learners.

The framework I used was: Keeping the First Peoples Ways of Knowing in mind students will respond to the Guiding Questions:

How can different ways of knowing complement our understanding of earthquakes and other geological activity? 

How can scientists benefit from studying the earth’s changing geology from a First People’s perspective?

In what ways do traditional narratives about geologic events from the past contain important understandings about the Earth’s changing geological history?

(First Nations Education Steering Committee, 2015).

Using the information provided in the current WISE, and from outside sources (First Nations Education Steering Committee, 2015) that I started to add, students will research and create their own narrative to share – one that is influenced by story and science. Students can use the WISE program to capture their thinking, reflections, and planning (Williams, Linn, Ammon, & Gearhart, 2004) as they work through this narrative. Students would have the opportunity to individualize their story but pull from scientific concepts. Prior to presenting this WISE to students, I would continue adding First Peoples knowledge of geological formations and local geological events from other resources, as well as Canadian maps and images. Perhaps the addition of oral histories, or ways geological events have been represented in art would also be included. Adding First Peoples Ways of Knowing is just a start and something I have only just started thinking about, but it is something that I believe could be very powerful in a format such as WISE and one I would like to explore beyond ETEC 533.



British Columbia Ministry of Education (2017). Science 8

First Nations Education Steering Committee (2015). Science First Peoples: Teacher Resource Guide (Grades 5-9).

Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2002). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

Williams, M., Linn, M.C., Ammon, P., & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to Teach Inquiry    Science in a Technology-Based Environment: A Case Study. Journal of Science Education & Technology, 13(2), 189-206.



Digital meets Analogue

I found this week’s readings quite beneficial as I am currently trying to  create online lessons that strike the delicate balance between autonomous discovery and structured guidance in the zone of proximal development. As Linn, Clark & Slotta (2003) state “if steps are too precise, resembling a recipe, then students will fail to engage in inquiry. If steps are too broad, then students will flounder and become distracted.” Looking through the WISE library I came across a lesson called String Instruments which I decided to enhance by applying 3 of the main ideas from WISE.  These 3 ideas ”Support Autonomous Learning”,  “Promote the Personal Relevance of Science and “making ideas visible to students” (Slotta & Linn. 2009), are key concepts when developing a WISE project. The goal of this WISE lesson is to teach students what sound is and ask them to create their own musical instrument, I decided to incorporate the digital music creation tool Sonic Pi.  Sonic Pi is a sound programming environment developed specifically to teach programming concepts where sound synthesis provides the medium for learning how to program,  We would use it on our Raspberry Pi’s alongside the “Ruler Model” that the WISE lesson utilizes, to draw comparisons between the analog and digital nature of sound in our world.

Dr. Jim Slotta’s WISE article states” Simulations and interactive models are perhaps the most powerful form of scientific visualization, because they represent complex ideas and causal relationships in a temporal, “playable” form.” (Slotta & Linn. 2009). Amplitude, Frequency, Pitch and Duration are all explained through the use of a ruler attached to a desk.  I added a brief tutorial for those 4 lessons to show how the same principle can be applied in a digital setting through Sonic Pi. Rather than just using a ruler the students can fully manipulate and control their sounds waves in Sonic Pi.  Creative boundaries are expanded through the digital tools. As well the numerous branches that digital tools affords supports autonomous learning by enabling students to carry out projects without having to constantly seek guidance from teachers or peers.”Linn, Clark & Slotta (2003).  Few things are more personal than music. The lesson presents an element of creation in a physical sense through building a string instrument. Then adding a digital element will build on the process of the students sense of “owning” their learning, instilling a personal connection with the the lesson.  I would take this lesson even farther by perhaps getting them to combine the physical with the digital using a Makey Makey like my students are doing here

James D. Slotta and Marcia C. Linn. 2009. WISE Science: Web-Based Inquiry in the Classroom. Teachers College Press, New York, NY, USA

Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

Further Inquiry into Plants and Photosynthesis through WISE

As I was exploring the WISE projects, I noticed that grade levels 3-5 were listed, however there were no projects available. I was hoping to see how WISE was used in these grades. I did however find a project that looks at a learning intention in the BC grade 2 science curriculum on life cycles (BC Ministry of Education, 2015). I chose to customize a Photosynthesis project (ID: 20937) to meet my learners needs and support them as they develop curricular competencies such as ‘make simple predictions’, ‘make and record observations’ and ‘transfer and apply learning to new situations’ (BC Ministry of Education, 2015). The reason I like this project is because it asks an inquiry question that can connect to our class’s project of planting seeds and observing plants grow. The driving question is, “How can a student grow the most energy-rich plants for her rabbit?” Using the WISE project to connect our knowledge from a lifecycle unit, will help drive the inquiry process when learning about photosynthesis. Connecting this to our reading, inquiries or investigations can be free-ranging explorations of unexplained phenomena, as the three trees example, or highly structured and guided by the teacher (Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards, 2008).

I customized this lesson to include a KWL model, which in our class is known as ‘know, wonder, learn’. “Many teachers use Know-Want-Learn (KWL) charts and variations of them when teaching science to access students’ prior knowledge on a particular topic and help students organize what they are learning during a science lesson or unit” (Hershberger, Zembal-Saul, and Starr, 2006). Immediately after the inquiry question, I customized it to include a KWL page where students can write down what they already know about plants and photosynthesis, and what they wonder or hope to learn through this unit. The L of the model will be at the end of the WISE Project for students to then reflect on what they’ve learned. The SKI framework promotes knowledge integration by making thinking visible for students, making science accessible for students, and encouraging students to take ownership over their learning by inquiring about scientific concepts (Linn, Clark, and Slotta, 2003). The KWL model makes student thinking visible by giving them a place to refer back to see how much they’ve learned. Students are always amazed when they compare how little they wrote in the ‘know’ section compared to how much they filled up in the ‘learn’ section at the conclusion. I also find that this supports students because they can refer back to what they wondered, and if they have not found the answer to their question, they often use personal inquiry time to take ownership and find out for themselves.

This project is customized to be shorter in length, as primary students need hands-on activities paired with the WISE project to fully support their learning. As students answer the questionnaire’s, I can retrieve the answers and group students according to their knowledge, using these tools as a formative assessment. I like that the classroom teacher is able to see how the students answer questions, and yet as the student progresses, they are corrected if their prediction is incorrect. This provides immediate support for students while clearing up any misconceptions. Within this WISE project I would use media such as Brain Pop Jr. to scaffold learners with visuals and video clips. I would also display a ‘Wonder Wall’ in the classroom for students to add ideas, connections, and new knowledge to make learning visible to the class. As this project is geared for intermediate grades, explicit details would need to be added and more interactive activities would need to take place within, to support primary learners.



British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2017). B.C.’s New Curriculum. Retrieved from:

Hershberger, K., Zembal-Saul, C., & Starr, M. L. (2006). Evidence helps the KWL get a KLEW. Science and Children, 43(5), 50-53. Retrieved from

Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: a guide for teaching and learning. (2008). Washington: National Academy Press. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from:

Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538. Doi:10.1002/sce.10086

Moving Man

Upon exploring the WISE library, I customized the project ‘Graphing Stories (with motion probes)’, having done a similar activity during my practicum. The Authoring Tool is user-friendly and intuitive, adding activities and steps with the editor ‘refreshing as I type’ and preview directly beside. To supplement the project sequence, I designed my own activity that incorporates a PhET Simulation called Moving Man. Adding steps of different types enabled variety and progression, moving from ‘Brainstorm’ to ‘Table’ to ‘Annotator’ to ‘Survey’. Brainstorming differences between scalars and vectors reveal student preconceptions, which is enhanced by gating responses before seeing peer feedback, allowing students to reply anonymously in risk free environments. ‘Fill the Blank’ provides checkpoints before progressing further: Distance is to displacement as speed is to                       . I was surprised to find a step icon designated for PhET simulations, providing easy access linking through URL. Students can record their sample data in ‘Table’, visualizing points and making graphs to compare with simulations. ‘Reflection Notes’ can make students aware of their own thinking. The ‘Annotator’ step asks students to move the man back and forth, then upload a screenshot of the position-time graph for others to interpret. The editor can require predictions before entering, or more guidance with starter sentences. ‘Drawing’ allows freeform sketches, designing frames for stop motion animation. ‘Survey’ icon enables both multiple choice with shuffling, inline feedback and multiple correct functionality. Open responses can display answers, locking after submission and completion before progression.

*When using ‘Table’ to make graphs, upon assigning columns and rows toggling through U = uneditable for student, I get an error message ‘Data in table is invalid, please fix and try again’. Is anyone else having the same problem?

  • What broader questions about learning and technology have provoked WISE research and the development of SKI?

The Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) defines inquiry as engaging students with authentic science, providing flexibly adaptive curricula to intentionally shape learner repertoire. This includes diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, planning investigations, researching alternatives, searching information, constructing models, communicating audiences and forming arguments (Linn et al., 2003). Responding to assumptions of learners holding multiple conflicting ideas, rather than constantly seeking teachers for guidance, embedded prompts offer assessment feedback and metacognitive critique at the right level, having been iteratively refined over time. Relative ease of customizing projects enhances relevance to match individual curriculum, using Scaffolded Knowledge Integration (SKI) based on premises: Making science visible and accessible, promoting lifelong learning through peer support (Linn et al. 2003). Accessibility is more than simplifying vocabulary which may actually reduce impact, but connects personal ideas with appropriate grain size. Presenting learners with compelling alternatives enables gradual fading in scaffolding for subsequent projects. Pivotal cases, evidence pages and inquiry maps bring concepts to life, transforming recipe into opportunity ascertaining connections to project. Making things visible involves more than assessment towards modelling wrong paths and debugging practices. Visual simulations at times confuse more than inform, but can direct attention towards zone of proximal development in supporting knowledge integration. Structured collaboration frames critical questions for group arguments, enabling anonymous contributions to reduce stereotypical responses, sustaining inquiry to evaluate validity of alternatives. Technology transforms canned tools towards autonomous inquiry, undergoing iterative refinement over mobile platforms. Handheld devices provide novel learning opportunities beaming information with teachers as facilitators becoming more expert at guiding inquiry.

Classroom practices shift over time employing instruction, experience and reflection to reorganize knowledge. Generating predictions reveal student preconceptions, using personally relevant examples designing hands-on investigations, exploring new representations and practices with capability to electronically respond (Williams et al., 2004). Integrating technology provides real opportunities to sustain interactions with different questioning types: logistical, factual and conceptual. Learners are encouraged to challenge perspectives, solve problems, learning through self-discovery becoming independent thinkers. Teaching is contrasted with telling, providing inquiry orientation that values student opinion, refocusing attention to integrate knowledge and interpret conceptions. With repeated opportunities to reorganize prior ideas, learners support claims with evidence, revealing misconceptions and growing familiarity to figure out alone in small groups. Guided inquiry selectively holds back answers encouraging student-directed engagement as practicing scientists. Students learn by doing and understand better finding (Furtak, 2006). The pedagogy is amorphous between direct traditional and open inquiry, having students rediscover supposed predetermined and pre-existing knowledge. Questions like whether correct answers exist may compel students to explore phenomena or give up. Teachers can deliberately create uncertainty, rationalizing constructivist perspective, avoiding expected results, deferring to later. With false I don’t know, in-school socialization helps students not come to seek answers, being comfortable sharing perspectives, predicting, voting and experimenting to analyze unexpected challenges.


Furtak, E. M. (2006). The problem with answers: An exploration of guided scientific inquiry teaching. Science Education, 90(3), 453-467. doi:10.1002/sce.20130

Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086

Williams, M., Linn, M. C., Ammon, P., & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206. doi:10.1023/B:JOST.0000031258.17257.48

Anchored Instruction and Generative Learning

According to the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, the anchored approach to instructional design is “situated in engaging, problem rich environments that allow sustained exploration by students and teachers” (1992a). From this, the Jasper video series was developed with the intention of creating generative activities and cooperative learning situations for students to engage in authentic, real life problem solving opportunities that incorporate knowledge from cross curricular areas. One of the key takeaways from the Jasper series, and other similarly based authentic tasks, is the importance of student learning taking place within the context of a meaningful environment, rather than targeting learning within skill and knowledge development in isolation. The Vanderbilt Cognitive and Technology Group states that in terms of generative learning, students should be challenged to engage in argumentation and reflection as they access and apply their existing knowledge when confronted with alternate points of view (1992a).

The Jasper series of videos address the requirement of authenticity by presenting problems and opportunities that mimic those encountered by experts in similar fields of work, and the students engage with the same types of content and knowledge that these experts apply as tools within their work. This involves links to different areas of the curriculum that supports the integration of knowledge. An important aspect that differentiates the Jasper series from other contemporary learning videos (i.e. Khan Academy, Crash Course, and BBC Classroom Clips) is the incorporation of cooperative learning within group settings that allow for collaboration as a function of communities of inquiry to discuss, explain, and learn through interaction with peers. While the other contemporary learning videos are more passive in nature, as they provide a delivery of information and content without opportunities for active engagement or problem solving, the Jasper series moves groups of students into developing self generated information as a product of collaborative opportunities that are built into the structure of the videos.

Mathematics teaching has traditionally followed a linear form of instruction that involves an emphasis on skill drills and repetitive technique practice that requires students to progress through their learning path without adequate consideration to personalized and individualized learning styles. The Jasper series approaches the learning of Mathematical content, as one example, in a more active format by promoting cross curricular connections that allow for hands-on, collaborative learning. It was interesting to note that the results of the research conducted by the Vanderbilt Cognition and Technology Group reported that students demonstrated an improved attitude towards Mathematics after participating in the Jasper series, and that they viewed Mathematics as being more useful and practical in everyday contexts (1992b). However, several students held negative attitudes towards the assessment portions of the Jasper series, and this required a fundamental rethinking of the approaches to student assessment (1992b). Following this, the research of Shyu (2000) reveals that students in Taiwan also reported a positive impact on their learning and attitudes towards mathematics, and that students responded favourably to the incorporation of situated learning theory and multimedia video technology through participation in the Jasper series. The success of developing student problem solving abilities, and the opportunities for collaborative, generative learning were regarded as having an impact on all students, regardless of their previous achievement in mathematics and science (Shyu 2000). Despite appearing to be somewhat dated by our 21st century technological standards, the Jasper series, and the incorporation of anchored instruction, clearly have significant benefits to student learning and achievement that continue to be highly relevant and applicable within our current classroom environments.


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992b). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program, description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.

Shyu, H. Y. C. (2000). Using video‐based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.

Anchored Instruction Hybrid Learning?

Anchored instruction remains a fascinating subject which employs the strength of integrating problem solving with instruction to improve student success, interest, and achievement when it comes to working with complex real-world problems. These problem-rich environments allow students to engage in learning through exploration of complex problems and ideas (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt [CTGV], 1992a). As shown by Shyu (2000), elementary students in Taiwan demonstrated increased interest, attitudes towards math, and achievement in problem-solving assessments. With such correlations using video-based anchored instruction, it would be interesting to discover the effects of increased interaction on students using more sophisticated technology such as videogame-style anchored instruction. Contrary to the effects seen in Taiwan, Park & Park (2012) discovered that the freedom of anchored instruction may leave students to develop incorrect knowledge when solving engineering problems. It stands to reason that the careful and deliberate implementation of anchored instruction at certain areas in education may be required to extract the most positive impact for students.

The Anchored Instructional approach suggests that “instructional goals for mathematics and science need to be quite different from the ones illustrated by typical test items that focus primarily on component skills” (CTGV 1992a). Are the effects of the Anchored Instruction studies a result of students using previous and classically taught ‘component skills’ in a new and more integrated approach? Would students who worked with Anchored Instruction from the beginning of their education have the same achievement and results? It would be very interesting to see how this approach works for the long-term benefit of children.

I believe that we have many tools at our disposal to bring Anchored Instruction into modern instruction. Rather than replacing current models of instruction, the supplementation of such models can help to bring students and teachers enrichment in both instruction and learning. A gradual implementation would be needed as such resources are assuredly difficult to construct, and deliver in a meaningful way.



Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Park, K., & Park, S. (2012). Development of professional engineers’ authentic contexts in blended learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(1), E14-E18.

Shyu, H. Y. C. (2000). Using video‐based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.

Anchored instruction for authenticity and motivation

The Jasper series was designed in response to a large majority of students lacking in independent and critical thinking skills, as well as the motivation to learn and apply concepts to the real world. The goal of the Jasper series was to create a shared learning context where students would be challenged in a “realistic problem-rich setting”, learning the when, why and how of procedures, concepts and skills (Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992a). The intent behind the design of this TELE was to provide an area for meaningful STEM exploration, building collective understanding between teachers and students, as they developed problem-solving skills in an authentic setting. I agree that this is a problem worth pursuing still today, as students have easy access to information on their phones and tablets, and are rarely challenged to reflect on their learning and engage critically with authentic problems. The Cognition & Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a) outlined the issue in more depth, elaborating on the necessity of developing “subskills” while using the Jasper series. To authentically tackle any problem, students need to develop a bank of skills and strategies from which they can apply their critical thinking to solve a complex problem, while being able to apply the tools of technology rather than having the technology answer the problem for them.

In the studies I read that attempted to integrate the Jasper series into their instruction, motivation and improved attitude towards STEM were byproducts of using the Jasper series (Hickey et al, 2001; Shyu, H., 2000). I found this interesting, but not surprising. Having access to technology at their fingertips, it would seem realistic for students to lose interest in the memorization of materials and concepts that didn’t relate to their lives. However, through the studies, results showed significant increase in motivation and positive attitude towards when anchored instruction and technology were fused together successfully. In Taiwan, several Grade 5 classes successfully implemented a video-based series, Encore’s Vacation, which resulted in improved motivation and academic achievement (Shyu, H., 2000). Encore’s Vacation is similar to the Jasper series, in that it provides visuals and audio accompaniment of a realistic problem, as well as diagrams, a storyline, and the ability to adjust the speed of the video. All these factors enable anchored instruction, with the complexities of authentic problem solving placed within a context students can grasp and opportunities for differentiation through extension or simplification as needed.

Unfortunately, in North America, there does not appear to be programs already set up for teachers as neatly and readily as the Jasper series or Encore’s Vacation. Khan Academy may provide audio and visual for the explanation of diagrams, however it does not teach subskills or place the learning in a context for problem-solving – it simply informs the student of how to solve a problem, and does not include them learning the when or why. Similarly, BBC Learn Classroom Clips only provide videos from which to listen passively, rather than question, reflect and collaborate to solve a genuine problem.



Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Hickey, D.T., Moore, A. L. & Pellegrin, J.W. (2001). The motivational and academic consequences of elementary mathematics environments: Do constructivist innovations and reforms make a difference? American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 611-652.

Shyu, H. Y. C. (2000). Using video‐based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.

Active learning

There were a number of key points that the pedagogical theory of Anchored Instruction can be apply to the constructivist theory of learning.  First “the math adventures may offer other opportunities for interdisciplinary connections.” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b).To develop a student’s curiosity about the world around us core subjects should not be taught in isolation. Rather they need to be weaved and combined to present the students with the rich tapestry that real world situations present in everyday life. This leads into “Problem complexity- no single answer, real world problems, first adventure is 15 interrelated challenges with multiple solutions.”(Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b) As in our everyday life answers are not clear cut and require the ability to navigate multiple paths and display flexibility and adaptive strategies when solving problems.


Secondly “Video based presentation-moving images, access poor readers or ESL, dynamic images help students imagine the problem”(Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b). While the Jasper project seems dated by our present standards the basic premise that delivering knowledge to students and promoting critical thinking skills does not need to be a text based delivery system is innovative.  Visual representation of problems, especially in a dynamic moving form is a multimodal approach that will reach a much broader spectrum in the class.  Digital literacy helps level the playing field between with students who do not excel at traditional modes of delivery. This also connects with the generative learning format of the videos.  Students are asking questions, rather than just answering questions, reflecting on their experience and gaining critical thinking skills in the process.  

Finally from the two other readings I did I believe that collaboration  “Our findings indicate that, in the absence of instruction, some students will interact with their peers in ways that promote exploration of the problem space and its solution.”(Vye, Goldman,Voss,.; Hmelo, Williams, 1997) plays a key role in anchored instruction as well as constructivism.  As does intrinsic motivation through peer interaction “In work with teachers we consistently find that the opportunity to teach their peers is highly motivating and develops a strong learning community among the teachers.”(Biswas, Schwartz & Bransford 2001).  The Jasper series was a truly innovative way of looking at how to apply knowledge, hypothesis, carry out theories and form conclusions using technology as the vehicle.


Biswas, G. Schwartz, D. Bransford, J. & The Teachable Agent Group at Vanderbilt (TAG-V) (2001). Technology support for complex problem solving: From SAD environments to AI. In K.D. Forbus and P.J. Feltovich (Eds.)Smart Machines in Education: The Coming Revolution in Education Technology. AAAI/MIT Press, Menlo, Park, CA. [Retrieved October 22, 2012


Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992b). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program, description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.


Vye, Nancy J.; Goldman, Susan R.; Voss, James F.; Hmelo, Cindy; Williams, Susan (1997). Complex mathematical problem solving by individuals and dyads