Six emerging design themes are impacting cyberlearning, or the future of learning with technology, according to a new report.

Cyberlearning researchers investigate this learning future, and while many cyberlearning projects are in initial stages and don’t aim to produce market-ready products, they do yield early results with proof-of-concept designs or theoretical insights.

Those researchers also believe they can explore how people learn by designing innovative technologies that draw from findings from the learning sciences and experimenting with those designs in real-world settings.

The report, which summarizes emerging cyberlearning areas and focuses on a handful of guiding questions, is organized by The Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL) and is co-authored by 22 members of the U.S. cyberlearning community.

(Next page: Six emerging cyberlearning areas)


In general, the cyberlearning community focuses on a few fundamental questions:

1. How can students use their bodies and minds to learn what will be important in the 21st century, such as collaboration, scientific argumentation, mathematical reasoning, computational thinking, creative expression, design thinking, and civic engagement?
2. What advances in computation and technology are needed to design, develop, and analyze innovative learning experiences?
3. How can learning with technology expand access, equity, and depth of learning across diverse people, institutions, and settings?

The six emerging cyberlearning areas include:

1. Community Mapping: Using mobile, geospatial tools for learning in context at the scale of a neighborhood, community, or city
2. Expressive Construction: Computing as a creative literacy, focusing on students’ expressiveness, ability to represent STEM ideas, and sharing of emerging understandings
3. Digital Performance Spaces: Immersive, participatory, social investigations of simulated scientific phenomena that appear to be occupying the entire space of the classroom
4. Virtual Peers and Coaches: Agents that use verbal and nonverbal communication to establish rapport with a student and thereby support engagement in explaining STEM concepts
5. Remote Scientific Labs: Students control real scientific equipment at a distance, learning about science with authenticity and support
6. Collaborative Learning with Touch Interfaces: Expanding collaborative learning via multi-touch interfaces on tabletop, tablet, and mobile computers

Cyberlearning researchers are also developing new methods to investigate learning with emerging technologies:

  • Multimodal Analysis: Integrating multiple streams of data, such as audio, video, eye gaze, sensors, and click-stream data
  • Analytics for Assessment: Measuring student learning as they use games and other online experiences to inform teachers and increase learning across different types of experiences
  • User- and Community-Centered Design: Engaging users and community members in the design process to make learning tools more attractive, useful and effective
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura


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