DynaLearn - Engaging and informed tools for learning conceptual system knowledge

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DynaLearn provides learners with an effective cognitive tool to encode conceptual knowledge in a range of scientific topics, relate it to external information sources, and collaborate with peers in the learning process.

Conceptual knowledge of systems' behaviour is crucial for society to understand and successfully interact with its environment. Acquiring this expertise is therefore a valuable aspect of science education.

Despite this importance, there is an alarming decline in the number of students choosing science subjects. Reasons for this include the perceived complexity of the studies, the idea that these subjects are uninteresting and tedious, and the lack of effective cognitive tools that enable learners to acquire the expertise in a way that fits its qualitative nature.

The DynaLearn project seeks to address these problems by integrating well-established but currently independent technological developments, and utilise the added value that emerges from this integration. The main objective is to develop an interactive learning environment that allows learners to construct their conceptual system knowledge, either individually or in a collaborative setting.

Specifically,

  • diagrammatic representations are used to enable learners to articulate, analyse and communicate ideas, and thereby construct their conceptual knowledge;
  • ontology mapping is used to find and match co-learners working on similar ideas to provide individualised and mutually benefiting learning opportunities;
  • virtual characters are used to make the interaction engaging and motivating.

The development of the workbench is being tuned to fit key topics from environmental science curricula, and evaluated and further improved in the context of existing curricula using case studies.
Through this approach, DynaLearn delivers an individualised and engaging cognitive tool for acquiring conceptual knowledge that fits the true nature of this expertise

Basic information

Country: Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, Other

Coordinator: University of Amsterdam

Partners:

 

Programme: FP7

Project Acronym:

Target groups: college students, education authorities, primary school students, researchers, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers, university students, university lecturers

Topic: Agriculture, Applied sciences, Biology, Biotechnology, Computer science, Chemistry, Earth science, Ecology, Energy, Engineering, Environmental sciences, Fisheries science, Food science, Forestry science, Geology, Geophysics, Information technology, Materials science, Meteorology, Oceanography, Physics, Education

Start year: 2009

End year: 2012

Url: http://www.dynalearn.eu/

Contact person: Bert Bredeweg, B.Bredeweg[at]uva.nl

The DynaLearn project is motivated by the needs arising from the educational field. The DynaLearn project seeks to address these problems by integrating well-established but currently independent technological developments, and utilise the added value that emerges from this integration.

The main objective is to develop an interactive learning environment that allows learners to construct their conceptual system knowledge, either individually or in a collaborative setting. The workbench has three strategic characteristics:

  • Accommodate the true nature of conceptual knowledge.
  • Engage by using personified agent technology.
  • React to the individual knowledge needs of learners.

The background and results of DynaLearn are presented in the project deliverables at http://www.dynalearn.eu/projects/DynaLearn/publications/#deliverables.

Information about DynaLearn and the concepts behind it are published in various papers and presentations, see the full list at http://www.dynalearn.eu/projects/DynaLearn/publications/#papers

An important aspect of the DynaLearn project is the development of software for learning conceptual knowledge. The DynaLearn software allows learners to capture their ideas and investigate their logical consequences. By building causal models and simulating these, students develop an understanding of how systems behave.

DynaLearn introduces six use levels at which the software can be used. Furthermore, by working at a particular use level, teachers can emphasise particular aspects of modelling a system (e.g. causality, conditional knowledge). The DynaLearn software is based on the Garp3 qualitative modelling and simulation workbench, but integrates the interface into a single screen, adds use levels, and incorporates significant improvements such as allowing multiple simulations, storing selections in state graphs, and saving simulations to a model.

The software is accompanied by documentation and teaching materials.
www.dynalearn.eu/software

 

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