CIRCL Newsletter – Issue 2, November 2013


CIRCL met with leaders across NSF on September 25 and is pleased to report unusually strong support for Cyberlearning as a theme across the agency. Consequently, NSF has charged our center to engage with Cyberlearning projects across NSF, to bring together the best work regardless of the funding source. Do you know a great “cyberlearning” project outside Cyberlearning:Transforming Education? Let us know.

In addition, NSF is working on preparing a new Cyberlearning:TE solicitation. They expect that EXP and DIP proposals will be due in February 2014 and revert to December and January in following years. If you’re thinking of applying to Cyberlearning in the next cycle, and if you’d like help thinking about what you might need to take your project to the next level and find partners for your work, contact CIRCL.

Upcoming CIRCL Event: 2014 Cyberlearning Summit June 9­-10 before GLS

The 2014 Cyberlearning Summit, hosted by CIRCL, will take place June 9-10, 2014 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, just before the Games, Learning, and Society (GLS) 10.0 conference. The Summit will feature advances in cyberlearning that are ready to share with larger audiences. A call for participation will be announced soon, and updates will be posted to the 2014 Cyberlearning Summit page. We are on the lookout for graduate students who want to help organize activities for the Summit in return for an honoraria or travel expenses to the Summit. If you know of graduate students who would like to be more involved, please contact CIRCL.

CIRCL Industry Working Group Convenings

A working group of Cyberlearning and digital learning industry representatives will be having a series of online meetings, to start to define how the energies of the Cyberlearning community and the energies for digital learning among market-oriented organizations can come together and increase impacts. This will lead to a working meeting in California in March (formerly scheduled for January). Avron Barr has agreed to help facilitate the online meetings. If you are thinking of starting a company, would like to explore how your NSF activities could translate into the marketplace, or have some other way to participate and contribute to this conversation, contact CIRCL.

Featured Perspective: Meet Alex Repenning

How did you get started in Cyberlearning?

About 20 years ago, I remember asking a student: “What do you think about programming?” The student said “It’s hard and boring.” That has become the central challenge in all my work: How could we address the cognitive factors and the affective factors, so that learning programming becomes easy and exciting? The initial insight was that graphical program languages could make it easier and that students find making their own games exciting, but over time we have learned that there is SO much more work to truly broaden participation in computing.

What does scaling up look like to you?
Well, in our 2008 ITest project, we proposed that we would work with 1300 students. We actually ended up with over 10,000. We have just received a new award for Scalable Game Design that will let us prepare to engage whole school districts nationwide. Teacher professional development is a big challenge, but so is going from an after school program to part of the curriculum, and from working with a self-selecting group of students to working with all students in school. It’s not just going to more students; it’s going from a technology to a robust model.

What would you want policy makers (e.g. Congress) to know?
We can’t teach programming when every kid is just one semi-colon away from total disaster. But we definitely can teach every middle school student in America computational thinking by emphasizing visual programming and game design. And when we teach computational thinking in the right way, what students learn transfers into better science learning. For example, a teacher can help students conceptualize “collisions” in space invaders in a way that better prepares them to think about collisions in physics and engineering. It’s these synergies between computational thinking and STEM learning that will motivate change in districts nationwide.

What do you wish the Cyberlearning community could do?
It’s an exciting moment for collaboration among computer scientists, learning scientists, and educators. It’s very necessary, but it’s also still hard. A common understanding of the barriers and how to overcome them would be valuable. I’d like to be able to send a member of my project to be “embedded” in someone else’s multidisciplinary team for a month, and host another project’s graduate student in mine so we can learn more about how people work together to build robust cyberlearning models.

Opportunities: Utah State Doctoral Fellowship, IJAIED, Emotions & Technology, Video Tools

Utah State University’s Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences (ITLS) department is offering a four-year doctoral fellowship for a new doctoral student interested in digital fabrication, the maker movement, and education.

Submissions for the Special Issue in the International Journal of AIED on Culturally-Aware Educational Technologies are due December 31. If you missed the Notification of Intent due on October 31, contact Lewis Johnson; you may still be able to submit a manuscript.

Chapters are being solicited for an edited book Emotions and Technology: Communication of Feelings for, with and through Digital Media. Submit your proposal by January 6, 2014.

If you use video analysis and transcription tools and would like to be part of a committee thinking about next generation, open source tools that could be maintained by the research community, send us a quick email.

For more timely updates on opportunities and deadlines, follow CIRCL on Twitter or like us in Facebook.

Job Announcements: UIC, Columbia University

The Psychology Department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position in Cognitive Psychology with a preference for candidates whose research can be related to student success.

The Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Program in Communication, Computing, and Technology in Education at Teachers College at Columbia University invites applications for an open rank professor with expertise in teaching and learning environments.

Resource and Tech Corner: AI Magazine, CURVE, nQuire, CAISE, CADRE

Inspired by the 2012 Cyberlearning Summit, Drs. Chaudhri, Gunning, Lane and Roschelle co-edited a special edition of the AI Magazine on the theme of “Intelligent Learning Technologies: Applications of Artificial Intelligence to Contemporary and Emerging Educational Challenges”. This special edition presents work at the intersection of AI and Education, including Virtual Humans, an Intelligent Textbook a Game-based Learning environment, and technology focused components such as student models and data mining. The issue concludes with a summary of contemporary and emerging challenges at the intersection of AI and Education.

MxR labs at USC has a new technology called Compelling User Redirection in Virtual Environments (CURVE). Redirected walking is a technique that enables users to walk in a virtual environment that exceeds the size of the real tracked environment by imperceptibly rotating the virtual world around the users head.

A new and improved version of the nQuire inquiry learning toolkit is now available. nQuire, a product of collaborations between the OpenScience Lab and Nominet Trust, is a citizen science toolkit that helps users design and report on science inquiries. The new version has an authoring environment, forums, a facility to publish results, and a design makeover. Please send any feedback on the usability and usefulness of the toolkit to Mike Sharples at If you are interested in being part of a group to discuss the use of nQuire, contact CIRCL.

The NSF-funded Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) hosts, an online community of nearly 1000 members and collection of informal STEM learning projects, evaluation, and research/reference resources. CAISE invites you to explore the site, register and disseminate your relevant NSF-funded projects evaluation reports and research products, and join groups, including the Cyberlearning Meets Informal Science group recently created by CIRCL.

CADRE is a network for STEM education researchers and developers funded by the NSF Discovery Research K-12 (DR K-12) program. Visit CADRE’s resources page to access spotlights of DR K-12 projects, the most recent newsletter, proposal writing resources, and more. Take a complete tour of the website to learn about the CADRE Fellows, the work of DR K-12 researchers and developers, and upcoming events.

New CyberLearning Awards


CIRCL warmly welcomes these recently awarded projects. (See the
September newsletter for other recent awards.)

Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER):

Exploratory Projects (EXP):

Design and Implementation Projects (DIP):


Share Your News

Have some news (project highlights, job opportunities, RFPs, calls, etc.) that you want to share? Contact CIRCL.

CIRCL is supported by NSF grant IIS-1233722 (CRC: Center for Innovative Research on Cyberlearning (CIRCL). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.