This page last changed on Apr 10, 2007 by stepheneb.

To: Bob Tinker, Carolyn Staudt, Stephen B, Andy Zucker, and the UDL team
From: Sherry Hsi
Re: Comments on the UDL project
Date: April 6, 2007

Thanks for connecting me on the phone call. I think the project is off to a great start with a super team to work on this. Here are some thoughts about the project.

1. Regarding the research questions, while there is limited funding to do research on learning outcomes, I would encourage you to examine student engagement and motivation as an indirect indicator of learning. This can be done simply with first-hand observations and conversation with kids, self-reports on survey, or embedded prompts in the software. A recent longitudinal study that Prof. Robert Tai from Univ. of Virginia conducted showed that student engagement in science was a better predictor of success in science later on (in college) compared to using science grades or test performance.

2. Something I worry about it that software created in absence of early feedback especially from your target audience will result in something bland. For example in the storyline, a risk is that you pick a narrative that doesn't engage kids or isn't at the right age level. Make sure there are some kids on your team that can provide input or formative feedback on the narratives you design, including the graphic design treatment of the software. Also recall the research that Andee Rubin did on engaging girls with making a puzzle connection to software, not just a narrative by itself (like the big mistake made in the Purple Moon series.) Regarding the sidebar design, there is an assumption that mysteries and storylines are interesting to kids. I think this is huge assumption that you could do some quick formative testing. (Adults and teachers are poor judges.)

3. Something that has worked for the Exploratorium is to get the kids into an activity quickly to with the prompt "Try this", which is then followed with "What's going on" and "Going further". And, to provide a menu of choices so the learner has multiple options and levels to engage. Going further provides different avenues of exploration, but also invites the user to contribute their variation on an activity or artifact.

4. It's great that you are looking at metacognition and different ways to support this. For example, the software could automatically pop-up a window to ask "what's hard?" "what do you want to know now?", "what are you looking for?" "Is this valuable to you?", and this can be designed not as questions, but also a set of objects that the user looks for and grabs to use in a particular context or problem situation.

5. "Why are there clouds?" Might be answered by shifting the question to be a "make" activity: How do you make a cloud? "What do plants eat?" might be rephrased as "How do I keep my flower alive?" "What's a flame?" might be rephrased as "How do you make an orange and purple flame?" This invites the kid into investigations via do something (along the lines of an accessible art activity) rather than placed in the role and perspective of getting the right answer or just explaining the science.

6. I believe that engagement is going to a key design goal as well as being able to provide multiple modalities for learning. So, as much as you can leverage and bring in other media tools and sources that kids find "fresh" or mainstream hip would help to not marginalize kids that might already be marginalized. If there are YouTube videos that are available and relevant to the topic, I would link these to the units.

Have you see Retrievr? ( This finds patterns across images based on color. This could be a "to do and notice" activity related to a collection of images of clouds or condensation found by a palette of different shades of blue and grey or purple (starting with a Flikr collection that is assembled by kids.)

When kids go to make their clouds or flames, they can share this in a social networking community like in Ning designed just for a community of teachers whose kids who made clouds using UDL approaches.

7. Technology Probes---Have a look at the Technology Probes work that Prof. Allison Druin at Univ. of Maryland had designed: Technology probes: inspiring design for and with families as part of the InterLiving Project at HCIL. These are online avatars which young kids teach and customize, and in the process, provide a way to understand what kids know and do. It was research software, so not sure how robust it is, but interesting concept.

8. I found the comment that Ray made about SecondLife intriguing. I could imagine getting learners to have a first common experience together, then working from that primary first-hand experience (such as flying through different density of clouds in Second Life together, playing the role of a flame thrower in SL and trying on different flame retardant suits to investigate temperature and shape of a flame.)

9. The Exploratorium has two spaces in SL, one in Midnight City and our new island temporarily named "eastlandtwo" (175,75,25). Have a look. Maybe we can help create an exploration space for the UDL kids and teachers.

Document generated by Confluence on Jan 27, 2014 16:49