Updates from the Field: Cyberlearning Summit

Cyberlearning program cover listing

June 19th, 2014

The Center for Innovative Research on Cyberlearning (CIRCL), a partnership between SRI International, EDC, and NORC at the University of Chicago held the 2014 Cyberlearning Summit on June 9–10 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the spirit of cyberlearning, the event was webcast and virtual participation was encouraged. The two-day summit featured panels, twitter discussions, and collaborative sessions designed to explore the power of, and opportunities for, technology to advance learning.

Strands at the Meeting

The Cyberlearning Summit was divided into three strands. The first strand, entitled The Role of Teachers in Cyber-Enabled Classrooms, explored several examples of cyberlearning in the classroom. Jim Slotta from the University of Toronto presented an infrastructure called the Scalable Architecture for Interactive Learning (SAIL), a project funded by the U.S. and Canadian National Science Foundations to create cyber-enhanced classrooms that promote collective inquiry. Ingmar Riedel-Kruse of Stanford University presented examples of biological simulations that can be used by students to conduct experiments.

The second strand focused on Playful Environments. Tapan Parikh from the University of California at Berkeley described a program called Local Ground that involved youth in validating data sets for community planning. Yasmin Kafai from the University of Pennsylvania gave a presentation on computational participation, encouraging educators to not just focus on teaching code, but also its applications.

During the third strand, Deep Learning, Janice Gobert from Apprendis/WPI explained how log files from interactives can be used as an assessment tool to demonstrate a player’s learning process. Sidney D’Mello from the University of Notre Dame discussed a technology that uses a camera to sense learners’ emotions to keep them in the “zone of optimal confusion for maximal learning.”

Talks and Themes

The Cyberlearning Summit and the concurrent Games Learning Society (GLS) Playful Learning Summit featured a shared keynote by Yasmin Kafai and Deborah Fields from Utah State University called “Mischievous Cheating for Serious Gaming,” about the impact of play culture on learning. Rather than focusing on gameplay itself, Kafai and Fields discussed the learning that occurs in the spaces surrounding computing and technology, such as peer conversations, walkthroughs, and even cheating.

The summit concluded with the Partnering for Impacts panel. One major takeaway from the panelists was a reiteration that communication is the key to successful collaboration, which means partnering institutions committing to deconstructing jargon and constantly working to develop shared vocabulary and understanding.

Throughout the Cyberlearning Summit, one issue that was repeatedly raised was the importance of finding a balance between data collection and privacy in cyberlearning research. When a learning technology can collect data from each of its users, it is important to make sure that the data is used properly and that users’ privacy is respected. As technology advances, this will become a bigger and bigger concern, and it will be interesting to see how the field responds to the challenge.

Next Steps

As a follow-up to the 2014 Cyberlearning Summit, CAISE will be examining the presenters’ publications and adding more resources about cyber and game-based learning to the InformalScience.org collection. Please feel free to contribute your own cyberlearning resources to the site.