One of the key takeaways for me, throughout the selection of readings that I chose for this week’s topic, is the importance of considering the learner as being both embedded in the learning environment, while being physically active within it. In this sense, cognition can be thought of as an embodied, as well as a cerebral activity. As a means of supporting student engagement in embodied learning, educators can provide collaborative, immersive experiences that allow for the exploration of knowledge and content that extends beyond the confines of the classroom space. Winn (2003) states that artificial environments can use computer technology to create metaphorical representations in order to bring to students concepts and principles that normally lie outside the reach of direct experience. This instructional approach enhances students’ ability to apply abstract knowledge by situating education in authentic, virtual contexts similar to the environments in which learners’ skills will be used (Dede, 1992). These synthetic simulation environments center on interaction and collaboration, unlike the passive, observational behavior induced by television and presentational multimedia, and are therefore well suited for constructivist experiences (Dede, 1992).
Existing in the space between entirely virtual environments and entirely real world environments, Mixed Reality environments combine digital technology with physical activity as means of supporting the idea that physical activity can be a catalyst for generating learning (Lindgren & Johnson-Glenberg, 2013). This incorporates the continued emergence of new technologies and interfaces that accept natural physical movement, such as gestures, body positioning, and touch, as input into interactive digital environments. As such, exciting learning possibilities exist around creating personalized educational experiences grounded in the learning affordances of human perception and bodily action (Lindgren & Johnson-Glenberg, 2013). In my own practice as a Physical Education specialist, I aimed to infuse gamification into physical activity. Apps that fall within the mixed reality category can guide or instruct students in learning skills or movements and can enhance teaching and learning in Physical Education, and these can be utilized by individual students, small groups, or during whole class activities. Augmented Reality offers new possibilities in delivering engaging physical activity to students.
Winn (2003) emphasizes the importance of designing instruction with the focus on learning being no longer confined to what goes on in the brain, as cognitive activity involves the brain, through the body, and to the environment itself. If learning is considered to arise from the reciprocal interaction between external, embodied activity and internal, cerebral activity, the whole being must be considered as embedded in the environment and contexts in which it occurs.
Questions to Consider
How do educators best design embodied learning tasks in order to strengthen student knowledge through physical movement, while maintaining some level of structured and prescribed focus to the tasks?
What considerations do educators need to bear in mind with regards to student diversity in cultural, physical, and social considerations when engaging in embodied learning activities?
In what ways can virtual, immersive learning environments foster a transformation in social interactions, and what impact could this potentially have on the nature of interactions and behaviours between students?
Dede, C. (1995). The evolution of constructivist learning environments: Immersion in distributed, virtual worlds. Educational Technology, 35(5), 46-52.
Lindgren, R. & Johnson-Glenberg, M. (2013). Emboldened by embodiment: six precepts for research on embodied learning and mixed reality. Educational Researcher, 42(8), 445-452.
Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: embodiment, embeddedness, and dynamic adaptation. Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning, 1(1), 87-114.