CIRCL Newsletter – Issue 25, July 2017


It has been a busy spring and summer for the cyberlearning community! Cyberlearning research was featured on Capitol Hill and in the 2017 video showcase. Congratulations to all the cyberlearning video makers, and to videos recognized by Facilitator Choice and Presenter Choice awards: Gillian Puttick’s Building Systems from Scratch, Jodi Asbell-Clarke’s Research on Computational Thinking & the Game Zoombinis, Shari Metcalf’s EcoXPT, and Shuchi Grover’s VELA: Dynamic Activities for Computer Science Concepts.

CIRCL staff and cyberlearning community members have also been working together to finalize the Cyberlearning Community Report, and two new, excellent primers on Data Science Education and Persistence in Education. This fall, new working groups on cyberlearning genres will begin to meet to help advance the field. Also this fall, CIRCL will be surveying educators, graduate students, and industry partners involved in cyberlearning projects; if you have graduate students, teachers, or industry partners on your project, we’d appreciate if you could share their contact information with us so we can invite them to complete a survey on their experiences.

Working Groups on Cyberlearning Genres

Genre Working Groups

In April, CIRCL announced that it would fund a small number of working groups to convene experts and lay out research agendas for a few cyberlearning genres. Based on the proposals received and feedback from our advisory group, we are moving forward with working groups of two types to help advance the field. One in-person working group will focus on the genre of instrumented spaces (e.g., where youth interact with simulated phenomena), and the second will focus on robotics in early childhood learning and alternative input methods (e.g., gesture and speech). Three online-only Working Groups will focus on the genres of virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies for learning, neuroscience and emotion, and community-based learning. Learn more about these working groups.

Cyberlearning Community Report Update

Organized by CIRCL and co-authored by 19 members of the community, the Cyberlearning Community Report, to be released this fall, is designed to communicate to broad audiences the progress and advances occurring among funded cyberlearning projects and features articles on topics such as remote scientific labs, learning via touch, digital performance spaces, multimodal analytics, and community-based learning. A poster on the report will be presented by CIRCL Co-PI Patti Schank at EC-TEL in September. We expect the report to be available on the CIRCL web site before then. Follow CIRCL on facebook or twitter to receive updates between newsletters.

Expanding CIRCL Survey

CIRCL surveys the cyberlearning community to better understand your needs and interests, which in turn helps us broker connections, amplify the visibility of your work, and broaden impacts. The information we collect also helps NSF, educators, industry, and other stakeholders understand how your work is advancing the field and why research on cyberlearning-related issues is an important research area. Many of you have received at least one CIRCL survey — thank you for responding! This fall we will launch a new survey to a pool of educators, graduate students, and industry partners involved in cyberlearning projects to collect information about their experiences. If you have graduate students, teachers, or industry partners on your project, and can share their contact information with us, we would greatly appreciate it. Please also share our CIRCL resources with your partners, including the CIRCL Educators blog and CIRCL Primers, like our recently added Citizen Science, Data Science Education, and Persistence in Education primers.

Featured Perspective: Meet Jodi Asbell-Clarke

MeetJodi Asbell-Clarke

Jodi Asbell-Clarke is the director of the Educational Gaming Environments (EdGE) at TERC. She presented her work on Games and Ubiquitous Science Learning Environments at the 2012 Cyberlearning Summit, and her work has been featured in the 2015 Video Showcase: The Power of Implicit Game-based Learning and the 2017 Video Showcase: Research on Computational Thinking & the Game Zoombinis.

How did you get started in cyberlearning?

I’ve always liked working on something really exciting. My first job after university was at IBM as a verification analyst on the onboard Space Shuttle software during the first 25 missions of the space shuttle. Throughout my career, I’ve always been seeking that kind of “edge”. After teaching high school at University High School, a lab school associated with the University of Illinois, I came to TERC in the early 90s and helped create curriculum and teacher professional development for Hands-On Universe and some of the early Internet-based STEM education projects. By 2005, I was applying for grants to deepen our research about online learning for science teachers, and received reviews back from NSF saying, “This is not transformative enough.” Just then, we were approached by some hollywood designers involved in the virtual world industry who wanted to build science content in the first high-definition virtual world called Blue Mars. We thought “You want transformative – we’ll give you transformative!” Read more of Jodi’s perspective.

Funding Opportunities

The 2017 NSF ITEST solicitation is now available. ITEST supports projects to promote PreK-12 student interests and capacities to participate in the STEM and information and communications technology (ICT) workforce of the future. Proposals due September 5, 2017.

The Spencer Foundation is accepting Letters of Intent for the Lyle Spencer Research Award program for proposals to support intellectually ambitious, large-scale education research projects to advance our understanding of educational practice and its improvement. Register for an information session on September 12, 2017 at 11:00am CDT. Letters of Intent are due at 4:00 pm CDT on October 12, 2017.

The NSF AISL solicitation is now available. AISL seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning opportunities for the public in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments. Proposals are due November 6, 2017.

Conferences, Papers, Study Recruiting & Other Opportunities

Connected Science Learning (CSL), published by NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) and ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers), is now seeking submissions for its fifth and sixth issues. For more information, see the complete call for contributions on the NSTA website.

LearnLab at Carnegie Mellon University is offering a remote, online E-Learning Design Principles and Methods Course about e-learning design principles, the evidence and theory behind them, and how to apply these principles to develop effective educational technologies. The course is taught by Ken Koedinger and will run August 28-December 17, 2017. Remote attendance is required for all class sessions. Enrollments are accepted through August 28, 2017.

Call for Papers: Mind Brain Education Journal Special Issue on Cyberlearning & Learning Technologies. The aim of this special issue is to highlight how learning (including social emotional, and cognitive aspects of learning) with innovative technologies can be informed by cognitive science or educational neuroscience. The deadline to submit extended abstracts is September 15.

AERA 2018 will take place April 13-17 in New York. The conference theme is “The Dreams, Possibilities, and Necessity of Public Education”. (Paper submission deadline was July 24).

The Playing with Data research project at EDC is recruiting grades 7-8 science teachers to participate in a Fall 2017 study. This NSF-funded project is investigating how teachers use data from video gameplay for formative assessment. Teachers will use an online game about argumentation and a data dashboard to track students’ progress. The mini-unit includes comprehensive lesson plans, classroom activities, and a final capstone project for classroom debate about energy sources. Learn more about the study by watching this short video. If you are interested in participating, or know teachers who might be, please contact Heather Kim at or 212-807-4225.

Are you, or do you know, an elementary or middle school educator (grades 3-8) teaching a class that supports computational thinking (e.g., math, science, computer science, tech ed., etc.) through logic, coding, or preparation for coding? If so, The Educational Gaming Environments group (EdGE) at TERC invites such teachers to apply to participate in a nationwide NSF-funded study to measure how the game Zoombinis can support computational thinking skills among a diverse student audience. Participating teachers will receive a cash stipend and free copies of a research version of Zoombinis. Learn more and apply.

Job Opportunities

The Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) at UW-Madison seeks a Games and Learning Researcher interested in evaluating, studying, and supporting the development and implementation of digital games for learning. The position will interact with an interdisciplinary network of faculty, researchers, and game developers.

Digital Promise seeks a Research Director to lead a cutting-edge research project at Digital Promise Global focused on developing models that translate the latest research on learning for the purpose of improving the development of learner positioning systems (LPS) for personalizing learning. Location is D.C. or the San Francisco Bay Area.

New Cyberlearning Awards

A sample of new projects with a cyberlearning theme funded by the NSF Cyberlearning program and programs across NSF.

Recent NSF Cyberlearning awards:

Recent cyberlearning-themed awards across NSF:

Resource & Tech Corner

Video Showcase Awardees

The Video Showcase in May drew more than 30,000 visitors from 163 countries! Of the 171 videos presented, 18 were tagged as “cyberlearning” and several won awards. Check out Gillian Puttick’s Building Systems from Scratch (Facilitator Choice & Presenter Choice awards), Jodi Asbell-Clark’s Research on Computational Thinking & the Game Zoombinis (Presenter Choice award), Shari Metcalf’s EcoXPT (Facilitator Choice award), and Shuchi Grover’s VELA: Dynamic Activities for Computer Science Concepts (Facilitator Choice & Presenter Choice awards).

Research Map

Digital Promise’s Research Map provides education stakeholders a visual way to explore the full landscape of education and learning science research. The data visualization is based on over 100,000 peer-reviewed articles from 184 journals published between 2007 and 2016. Digital Promise’s analysis of these publications revealed 11 broad topics, such as Student Motivation and Cognition & Memory, which are broken down into more than 120 subtopics.

The Handbook of Learning Analytics is a snapshot of the field in 2017 and features a range of prominent authors from the learning analytics and educational data mining research communities. The printed Handbook is available for $20, and online access is always free.


CADRE’s newest Spotlight showcases DR K-12 work on modeling in science education, including clarification on the definition of scientific models, their importance, and their potential role in teaching and learning science. The spotlight also features an assortment of project-developed products to support students’ use of models in the science classroom.

Talk about tackling inequities by Timothy M. Renick, Ph.D., is an impressive story about significant changes in higher education, and institutions at the leading edge of change.


The National Academy of Education (NAEd) released a new report on Big Data in Education: Balancing the Benefits of Educational Research and Student Privacy. This report, based upon a workshop, reviews the benefits of educational research using modern data systems, the risks to the privacy of families and children, and technical and political solutions for maximizing benefits and minimizing risks.

Analysis: For Ed Tech That Actually Works, Embrace the Science of Learning. This is the second in a series of essays surrounding the EdTech Efficacy Research Symposium, a gathering of 275 researchers, teachers, entrepreneurs, professors, administrators, and philanthropists to discuss the role efficacy research should play in guiding the development and implementation of education technologies. Follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #ShowTheEvidence.

The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Jefferson Education Accelerator are building the National Education Researcher Database (NERD) to provide education practitioners, developers, administrators, and funders greater access to information about education researchers.

Check out NISE Net’s Solar Eclipse page to find great resources — including hands-on activities and online workshops — and learn about opportunities to engage visitors, family, and friends in learning about and participating in the solar eclipse on August 21.


Have a recent publication or article about your cyberlearning project, or that you think the community should know about? Let us know and we’ll announce it here!

Learning Along Lines: Locative Literacies for Reading and Writing the City, by Katie Headrick Taylor, in the Journal of the Learning Sciences.

Digital Youth Divas: Exploring Narrative-Driven Curriculum to Spark Middle School Girls’ Interest in Computational Activities, by Nichole Pinkard, Sheena Erete, Caitlin K. Martin & Maxine McKinney de Royston, in the Journal of the Learning Sciences.

Share Your News

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

CIRCL is supported by NSF grants IIS-1233722, IIS-1441631, and IIS-1556486. 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.