CIRCL Newsletter – Issue 8, November 2014


Strength through diversity is growing in Cyberlearning. Applications for Cyberlearning 2015 (now closed, but there is a waitlist as well as online participation options) feature an exciting mix of attendees from formal and informal; from academia, nonprofits, and industry; with expertise in computer science, learning sciences and everything in between; and projects that are making a difference in diverse settings nationwide. Our newsletter, twitter feed, and facebook page are regularly reaching hundreds to thousands of people and not just the usual suspects (sign up information below). Our first outreach workshop, intended to enable a broader community to submit winning proposals, is coming up soon (details below). And, as you will read below, Cyberlearning-themed proposals are being funded across NSF. But there is much more to do. We would especially like names and emails for people we could invite to join our community, to add strength and diversity. Got some suggestions? Let us know.

You can also help by inviting your colleagues to join us on facebook, twitter, the newsletter list and a new CIRCL Announce mailing list to receive updates on cyberlearning-related events and opportunities between newsletters.

Opportunities with Upcoming Deadlines: NSF Funding, Webinars, & Conferences

NSF Cyberlearning-related opportunities:

Conference and professional development opportunities:

CIRCL Webinars on Grant Writing & Communicating with Policy Makers

If you are considering submitting a proposal for the NSF Cyberlearning solicitation, we recommend that you watch the archived recording of the NSF Informational Cyberlearning Solicitation Webinar led by NSF Program Officer Christopher Hoadley and hosted by CIRCL staff on November 4. We also invite you to register for upcoming CIRCL webinars:

Project Spotlight: Giving Students Feedback on Complex Tasks in Virtual Biology Labs

Eli Meir’s NSF-funded project uses dynamic formative assessment models to enhance learning of the experimental process in biology.

What is the big idea of your project?
We make virtual labs that have some very open-ended components that let students explore and discover concepts on their own. These components are trying to address higher order thinking skills and big ideas. It is hard to assess whether students are understanding those skills with standard auto-gradable assessments like multiple choice. While you can assess higher-order thinking skills with more open-ended assessments like asking students to write an essay, or draw pictures, or make graphs, and so on, those are not easily auto-gradable. So if you want to do those kinds of things in a large class, grading is hard for many professors. Furthermore, you can’t give students immediate feedback on those types of assessments – the feedback only comes a week later after the professor has had time to do the grading, which is too late for most of the learning that comes from more immediate feedback. In our grant, we are focusing on giving students immediate feedback on open-ended, higher-order thinking skill tasks, by trying to take the kind of assessments we’d like to do–– more open ended assessments––and putting enough constraints on those to be able to have a computer algorithm recognize what the students is thinking and give them appropriate feedback.
Read more on Giving Students Feedback on Complex Tasks in Virtual Biology Labs.

Featured Perspective: Meet Janet Kolodner

Janet Kolodner is a former program officer for the NSF Cyberlearning Program and former Regents’ Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Tell us about how you want people to know who you are.
After 30 years on the faculty at Georgia Tech, I spent 4 years at NSF where I had the privilege and honor of helping researchers in the Learning Sciences and implementers of learning technologies and games to think about what the future of learning technologies could be if we take into account both the affordances of technology and what is known about how people learn. I helped people to think through their good ideas and make them better; I helped people forge partnerships across disciplines and areas of expertise; and I was able to fund some amazing projects. My goal, now, is to work towards changing the public imagination about the roles learning technologies can play in fostering learning, and even more importantly, change the public imagination about what education can be. Read more of Janet Kolodner’s perspective.

Job Announcements: Vanderbilt, SciPlay, NCSU, ETS

Vanderbilt University invites applications for a tenure-track position in Literacy and Digital Media. The Peabody Department of Teaching and Learning seeks an individual whose research focuses on some combination of digital literacies, new literacies, and new media studies with relevance to learning or teaching in formal or informal settings.

SciPlay seeks a Research Fellow to lead a variety of its research and development initiatives. Ideal candidates have (or soon complete) a Ph.D. in the learning sciences, science education, technology education, psychology, museum studies, or related field.

North Carolina State University invites applications for a three-year Postdoctoral Research Scholar position in the Psychology Department. The fellow will work on an NSF-funded project that focuses on the design, development, and testing of an intelligent, adaptive multi-agent tutoring system for the biological and medical sciences.

ETS Research & Development is invite applications for the 2015–2016 Educational Testing Service Fellowship and Internship Programs in R&D. The program promotes quality and distinction in educational assessment and related fields by supporting early-career participation in research and exposure to methodologies within the ETS environment.

Cyberlearning Across NSF

A sample of projects with a cyberlearning theme funded by programs across NSF.

Resource & Tech Corner: NAPLeS, Oztoc, MultiTaction, Research-Practice Partnerships

New high-quality videos on the NAPLeS site feature Carolyn Rosé on Learning analytics and educational data mining in learning discourses, Jeremy Roschelle on Convergent conceptual change, and Clark Chinn on Epistemic cognition. These new videos include a 5-minute “teaser”, a 15 minute overview video, and an interview with the speaker, in addition to the usual full recording of the webinar.

NYSCI has launched Oztoc, a digital game that introduces engineering principles and logic. To play the game, visitors shift blocks representing batteries, LEDs, resistors, and timers on MultiTaction table, and the players must figure out how to use the blocks to create circuitry and lights in order to attract the digital underwater creatures. This work is an NSF-funded collaboration between the Games+Learning+Society Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Watch a video about the Oztoc exhibit.

Check out some videos of inspiring multitouch technologies for research and education, and learn more about MultiTaction advanced interactive table and wall displays on the MultiTaction web site.

The William T. Grant Foundation has a new Research–Practice Partnerships site where you can read tips, see works samples, and access resources on topics such as how to structure a partnership, develop a joint agenda, and communicate and use research findings.

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 grants IIS-1233722 and IIS-1441631. 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.