Learning Technologies at The Abraham Lincoln Elementary School

Developers: Andrew Johnson, Jason Leigh, Tom Moher, Ya Lu Lin, Yongjoo Cho

Since 1997, EVL has partnered with the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Oak Park, IL to design and implement learning technologies and techniques into the elementary classroom setting. More specifically, this collaborative research focused upon how emerging (non-desktop) technologies can be used to support new activity structures along with traditional teaching approaches.

As part of this effort, in August 1999, EVL deployed an ImmersaDesk virtual reality display device in the Lincoln Elementary School’s Media Center for use during the academic year; students could explore 3-dimensional virtual models similar to the physical models already available in their classroom (such as Earth globes, solid geometric models, dioramas, etc.) using the QuickWorlds program developed by EVL graduate students with Lincoln teacher input. Exploration of the virtual environments / models supplemented the students’ regular learning program, and allowed EVL researchers to assess the impact of these technologies upon student learning.

An outgrowth of this work was the development of a series of virtual worlds called “Virtual Ambient Environments”, designed as simulated data collection environments for children engaged in inquiry-based science learning activities. “Virtual Ambients” are three-dimensional “first person” spaces within which users may navigate in space, scale, and time. Small groups of students explore the “Virtual Ambient Environments” using fairly large mono- or stereoscopic display systems (on the order of three to six foot diagonal) to support small group investigations of science phenomena. Other technologies such PDAs (used as data tablets) simulate other instrumentation used in “field” exploration. Examples of “Virtual Ambients” include “The Field”, a configurable plot of land populated by various flora, “Bee Dance”, a simulation of the dance that honeybees to indicate the location of food sources, and “Big Gulp”, a simulation of a coral reef and deep ocean region off the coast of Florida.

The collaboration with Lincoln School teachers and students has been well received and has contributed significantly to EVL’s research in education, learning technologies and techniques through practical application in the classroom setting.

Email: moher@uic.edu

Date: May 1, 1997 - August 1, 2002
Lincoln School - A. Johnson, EVL

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