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Monday, October 01, 2012

‘Embodied learning’ blends lessons with student-computer interaction

First Pennsylvania lab of its kind immerses students in computer simulations for what educators hope is more effective learning.

Photo: eSchool News
In an Elizabeth Forward Middle School classroom, students in an eighth-grade math class spent a recent morning getting into their lesson—literally.

Standing in their socks on a 15-by-15 game board that was projected onto a foam mat on the floor, they waved wands to move brightly colored virtual balls around the space.

They used trial-and-error to figure out what each colored ball did when it came into contact with another.
Did one ball bumping another cause it to multiply? Or did one eliminate another?
The students strove to develop a strategy to beat their opponents.

What they end up doing, educators say, is honing skills related to reasoning, decision-making, and critical thinking.
The teaching tactic is called embodied learning. It blends lessons and human-computer interaction.

Elizabeth Forward educators are implementing it with Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab, known as SMALLab Learning, which uses a ceiling-mounted projector, motion-sensor cameras, wands, and a computer to create scenarios in which students can learn by immersing themselves in the lesson.

The district is the first public school system in Pennsylvania to use this educational technology, developed at Arizona State University.

"It’s about getting students out of the standard desk and up and moving," said Todd Keruskin, Elizabeth Forward’s assistant superintendent.

About SMALLab Learning

SMALLab Learning was founded in 2010 with the mission of advancing embodied learning in schools and museums. Our flagship product is SMALLab, the Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab. SMALLab was created by an interdisciplinary team of researchers and media experts at Arizona State University, led by Dr. David Birchfield. Numerous agencies supported the core research including the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Intel Research, the Kauffman Foundation, and private donors. In 2010, ASU helped to create a new spin-off company, SMALLab Learning, LLC, founded by Drs. David Birchfield and Mina Johnson-Glenberg.

Why SMALLab?
Cognitive scientists have discovered compelling evidence that nearly all of our experiences are in some way grounded in the body. This suggests that the embodied experiences can lead to more effective learning - learning that is kinesthetic, collaborative, and multimodal. SMALLab Learning is at the forefront of this exciting new field of embodied learning.
Who Created SMALLab?
SMALLab was developed over a period of several years by an interdisciplinary team of dedicated faculty and graduate students at Arizona State University's School of Arts, Media and Engineering. SMALLab is a product of the collaborative vision of these designers, educators, researchers, artists, engineers, computer scientists, psychologists, musicians, and dancers.

Source: eSchool News and smallabsocial's channel (YouTube)

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