This page last changed on Feb 24, 2009 by stepheneb.

Introduction to the SAIL/OTrunk framework

The Scalable Architecture of Interactive Learning (SAIL) was developed originally an outgrowth of several NSF-funded projects:

  • WISE: Web-based Inquiry in Science Environment (Linn and Slotta, 2000; Slotta, 2001, 2004)
  • TEEMSS: Technology Enhanced Elementary and Secondary Science

SAIL was developed initially by the NSF center for Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS) as an optimal environment for the development of inquiry learning investigation. (Slotta and Aleahmad) SAIL represents the product of over a decade of prior research into technology-enhanced student learning. (Slotta and Linn, 2000; Horwitz and Christie, 2000). Technologists at the Concord Consortium and U.C. Berkeley have been leading SAIL development for the past several years.

You can view an online Interactive SAIL Community Timeline that shows a large number of the individual projects that have contributed to and used SAIL and the SAIL/OTrunk frameworks.

In 2007 Concord Consortium has integrated its OTrunk object assembly, scripting and persistence framework into SAIL. This framework originally developed for the Technology Enhanced Elementary and Middle School Science (TEEMSS) project greatly enhances the authorability of SAIL curriculum.

There are two key ideas in SAIL. One is an assembly architecture to knit together reusable pedagogically-aware Java components into curricular activities. These rich components already include:

  • Computational models with rich visual representations. These include among others molecular, dynamics and biological models.
  • Graphs for displaying both real-time and saved data.
  • Sensor collection components for collecting and graphing real-time data from sensors as well as analyzing previously-collected data.
  • Drawing tools which can range from a simple bitmapped painting, to object drawing, to concept mapping.
  • Models written in general purpose modeling languages such as NetLogo.
  • Assessments ranging from multiple-choice to open-response text input.
  • Components which can render web content ranging from html, css, to flash and quicktime. While browsers are very capable at this task there are many times in which web content may need to be delivered in a more constrained environment which does not necessarily allow browsing to other sites.

The integration of the many forms of web content and interaction with the more powerful modeling and analysis tools that are available in Java supports deeper learner exploration and inquiry and the creation of both richer explicit and implicit learner artifacts.

The second key idea is that SAIL provides each of these components a network-enabled pedagogically-aware persistence service which lets them load and save learner data. The underlying SAIL architecture takes care of storing a complete revision history of what has been saved and also makes sure that the data is associated with the correct student, workgroup, class, and teacher. This persistence is supported by the core SAIL framework that is included with the client application and the SAIL Data Service (SDS) web service.

The SAIL Data Service is designed to integrate with existing web portals to allow them to easily deliver SAIL-based activities to their learners, persisting the learner data and reporting back to he main portal.

Concord Consortium has been the technical lead on the SAIL and SDS persistence integration as well as the author of many of the modeling components. Concord has also developed a scripting environment and framework called Pedagogica that supports dynamic adaptation of component presentation and interaction to learners based on learner actions and data.

Concord Consortium has also taken the lead on adapting outside Java-based components and tools into SAIL/OTrunk. These include the statistical language R, NetLogo, a series of the Java simulations created by PHeT including the Circuit Construction Kit.

All of the underlying software frameworks authored by Concord Consortium: SAIL, the SDS, OTrunk, Molecular Workbench, Probeware Integration, Pedagogica (as well as many other) are available under open-source licenses.

These frameworks will allow students using the application to carry their data across multiple work sessions and continue to work with their investigations when offline. The framework will also permit students to collaborate by sharing datasets and work within a classroom or with other classrooms at remote locations.

The combination of the SAIL/OTrunk frameworks and scripting will permit the collection of large amounts of fine-grained data about student actions. In addition the system supports analysis of these data to produce and integrate more semantically meaningful reports on these data. As the authors and researchers find more ways of extracting pedagogically-significant reports from these data these reports can be included into the activities themselves for use by both teachers and students.



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