Saturday, December 11, 2010

SMALLab Update: Embodied and Engaged Learning - ASU researchers partner with GameDesk

SMALLab is an interdisciplinary collaborative project at the Arts, Media and Engineering program at Arizona State University, and includes people from fields such as education, art, theatre, computer science, engineering, and psychology.  The SMALLab provides students with a multi-sensory, multi-modal way of learning concepts in an immersive environment, and uses a motion capture system that tracks the position of the students as they move and interact within the environment.

SMALLab's project lead is David Birchfield,  a media artist, researcher, and educator who focuses on K-12 learning, media art installations, and live computer music performances.  SMALLab researchers have recently partnered with GameDesk to develop a 6th grade curriculum for a GameDesk charter school in 2012. (Information and links related to GameDesk are located in the RELATED section of this post.)

Below is a detailed excerpt from an overview of SMALLab:
"In today’s world, digital technology must play a central role in students’ learning. A convergence of trends in the learning science and human-computer interaction (HCI) research offers new theoretical and technological frameworks for learning. in particular, mixed-reality, experiential media systems can support learning in a way that is social, collaborative, multimodal, and embodied. These systems comprise a new breed of student-centered learning environments [SCLE’s]. Importantly, they must address the practicalities of today’s classrooms and informal learning environments (eg.: space, infrastructure, financial resources) while embracing the innovative forms of interactivity that are emerging from our media research communities (eg: multimodal sensing, real time interactive media, context aware computing)...
...SMALLab is an extensible platform for semi-immersive, mixed-reality learning. By semi-immersive, we mean that the mediated space of SMALLab is physically open on all sides to the larger environment. Participants can freely enter and exit the space without the need for wearing specialized display or sensing devices such as head-mounted displays (HMD) or motion capture markers. Participants seated or standing around SMALLab can see and hear the dynamic media, and they can directly communicate with their peers that are interacting in the space. As such, the semi-immersive framework establishes a porous relationship between SMALLab and the larger physical learning environment. By mixed-reality, we mean that there is an integration of physical manipulation objects, 3D physical gestures, and digitally mediated components. By extensible, we mean that researchers, teachers, and students can create new learning scenarios in SMALLab using a set of custom designed authoring tools and programming interfaces."

Below are a few videos about SMALLab, and information about GameDesk, an organization that is collaborating with SMALLab in California.

SMALLab Learning from SMALLab on Vimeo.

Below is a demonstration of a Smallab learning activity:

Gamedesk Smallab Session from Gamedesk on Vimeo.

SMALLab from SMALLab on Vimeo.

Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom
Sara Corbett, NYTimes Magazine, 9/15/10
People of SMALLab
SMALLab and Related Publications
ASU's SMALLab, a Mixed Reality Learning Environment - Multi-modal and Collaborative 
SMALLab Learning Lab at Quest to Learn School
Embodied Learning, GameDesk

Info about GameDesk, from the GameDesk website:
"GameDesk is a 501(c)3 nonprofit research and outreach organization that seeks to reshape models for learning through game-play and game development. The organization looks to help close the achievement gap and engage students to learn core STEM curriculum. It develops project-based learning with a strong focus on purpose, ownership, and personal value. The organization (originally developed out of research and support at the University of Southern California's IMSC) has now been in development, practice, and/or evaluation for over two years in various schools in the Los Angeles area."-Gamedesk

Gamedesk Concept Chart

Gamedesk People

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