Affording social intelligence in multi-user gaming and simulation learning...


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Title Affording social intelligence in multi-user gaming and simulation learning environments: social affordances and cognitive load for improving lifelong learning
Period 05 / 2003 - 05 / 2004
Status Completed
Research number OND1297824
Data Supplier Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)


Education is experiencing significant changes. Emphasis on traditional, initial school and university education is shifting towards new modes of lifelong learning. At the same time traditional classrooms are being extended into virtual classrooms for distributed learning and distance education (Onderwijsraad, 2003). In light of this, present learning paradigms espouse situating learning and cognition in authentic, often group-based asynchronous distributed learning situations (Van Merriënboer, Kirschner, & Kester, 2003). Games and/or simulations (Achtenhagen, 2001; de Jong, & van Joolingen, 1998; De Caluwe, Geurts, Buis, & Stoppenberg, 1996) are often used to promote the needed situating, supported by computer mediated and supported collaborative learning environments. Traditional content domains are making way for fields that are making use of these techniques such as public safety, environmental science, and risk assessment and management. Such environments exhibit both social and cognitive drawbacks. Socially, the environments are meagre. They do not provide the necessary affordances (Gaver, 1996; Gibson, 1977; Norman, 1988) for social interaction (Kirschner, 2003; Kreijns & Kirschner, 2001), namely a reciprocal relationship between user needs and environment functionalities and a salient perception action coupling between them. The environments exhibit low sociability, minimal social presence, and weak social spaces (Kreijns, Kirschner, & Jochems, 2002). Tools being used to 'combat' this problem are social agents and group awareness widgets (Kreijns & Kirschner, 2002). Cognitively, these information rich environments represent situations that are not properly aligned with the human cognitive architecture, threatening the learner with "cognitive overload" and inefficient learning (Paas, Renkl, & Sweller, 2003). The intrinsically high cognitive load of these environments is often unnecessarily increased by spatial and temporal split attention effects of realistic and metaphorical multimedia representations of data in the graphic, auditory, and haptic modalities. This is compounded by possible modality effects in the multimedia environments used (Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Tabbers, Martens, & van Merriënboer, 2003). Tools that take the control of cognitive load as a pre-eminent consideration in these environments are needed to tackle this problem. Finally, the collaborative aspect of learning and working in virtual teams places additional challenges on both the educator and the learner. Special attention has to be paid to virtual team-building and conflict handling and resolution. This adds to the social problems and cognitive load already present in learning in real teams. In other words, distributed learning has its advantages and disadvantages for students. The advantage is that they can learn at a time and place they prefer. A disadvantage can be that they lack the stimulating interactions with other students and teachers that typically take place within the same proximity. There have been several attempts to combine the best of both worlds by replicating the benefits of the classroom in a virtual world. The pioneering experiences with collaborative learning in virtual teams show interesting results but also stress the need for improved understanding of learning and cognition in virtual teams (Rutkowski et al, 2002). Goal of the workshop is to bring scientists from several disciplines together to discuss the problems and deliver the foundation for an integrative multidisciplinary project proposal to research this further. Four bodies of knowledge will be tapped, namely: * gaming for the creation of interactive learning experiences, * affordances of software to strengthen an environment for social interaction, * cognitive load to promote effective learning, and * collaborative learning in virtual teams. The overarching purpose of this multidisciplinary initiative is to overcome the social and cognitive drawbacks of learning by multi-user gaming and simulation by identifying the major problems, conducting conclusive research, and developing good theory aimed at improving lifelong learning. This preparatory grant is being requested to organize an intensive workshop to be attended by prominent Dutch and foreign researchers with as proximate goal, the production of a special issue on this theme in either the journal Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning (definite acceptance) or Applied Cognitive Psychology (in negotiation) and as ultimate goal a full proposal for an integrated research proposal within the Cognition Programme. Achtenhagen, F. (2001). Criteria for the development of complex teaching-learning environments. Instructional Science, 29, 361-380. De Caluwé, L., Geurts, J, Buis, D., & Stoppelenburg, A. (1996). Gaming: Organisatieverandering met spelsimulaties (Gaming: Organisational change by simulation games). The Hague, NL: DELWEL Uitgeverij B.V. De Jong, T., & van Joolingen, W.R. (1998). Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations of conceptual domains. Review of Educational Research, 68, 179-202. Gaver, W. (1996). Affordances for interaction: The social is material for design. Ecological Psychology 8(2), 111,129. Gibson, J. J. (1977). The theory of affordances. In R. Shaw & J. Bransford (Eds.), Perceiving, Acting and Knowing (pp. 67-82). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Kirschner, P. (2002). Can we support CSCL? Educational, social and technological affordances for learning. In P. Kirschner (Ed.), Three worlds of CSCL: Can we support CSCL. Inaugural address, Open University of the Netherlands. Kirschner, P. A., & Kreijns, K. (2003). Enhancing sociability of computer-mediated collaborative learning environments. In R. Bromme, F. Hesse, & H. Spada (Eds.). Barriers and biases in computer-mediated knowledge communication - and how they may be overcome. Dordrecht, NL: Kluwer. Kreijns, K., & Kirschner, P. A. (2001). The social affordances of computer-supported collaborative learning environments. Proceedings of the 31st ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, NV, USA. Kreijns, K., & Kirschner, P. A. (2002).

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Project leader Prof.dr. P.A. Kirschner


A84200 Education
D16500 User interfaces, multimedia
D52000 Educational theory

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