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  1. IVON ARROYO
  2. https://www.cics.umass.edu/people/arroyo-ivon
  3. Associate Professor
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Massachusetts Amherst, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Francisco Castro
  2. https://franciscastro.github.io/
  3. Research Scientist
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  1. Avery Closser
  2. http://averyhclosser.com
  3. Ph.D. Candidate
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Sai Gattupali
  2. Research Assistant
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  1. Erin Ottmar
  2. https://sites.google.com/view/ed-psych-and-mathematics-learn/people/erin-ottmar-pi
  3. Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Technology
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Luisa Perez Lacera
  2. Graduate Researcher
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Gillian Smith
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Hannah Smith
  2. https://sites.google.com/view/hannahcsmith/home
  3. Ph.D. Candidate
  4. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Embodying Computational Thinking and Math with Mobile and Wearable Learning T...

NSF Awards: 2041785, 2026722

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

This research project involved the creation of a software tool for the development of Computational Thinking and Mathematics Content knowledge for K-12 students and teachers. It is called the Wearable Learning Cloud Platform (WLCP), a learning technology innovation started with an EAGER award, and now supported by two NSF awards from the IIS/Cyberlearning program. Currently hosted at wearablelearning.org, the WLCP is a web-based technology tool and game editing platform we created, which enables teachers and students to play, create, and experience technology-augmented learning activities. In a 14-week project-based  Game Play and Design professional development program,  middle school teachers played, designed, tested, and implemented mathematics games in the classroom with their own students. This program engages teachers and students in mathematics games by utilizing mobile technologies as a vehicle for highly active, highly social, collaborative game play and game creation. It also addresses the growing need of teacher professional development and technology integration in the classroom, sitting at the intersection between technology as a medium for mathematics teaching and learning, and the development of computational skills as an end in itself. Through game creation and playing, the WLCP provides the benefits of mobile technologies and collaborative learning to develop students’ higher-level thinking in STEM classrooms. 

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (16 posts)
  • Icon for: Hannah Smith

    Hannah Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Ph.D. Candidate
    May 11, 2021 | 06:16 a.m.

    Thank you for checking out our video! We look forward to hearing your comments and answering your questions!

  • Icon for: Ateng' Ogwel

    Ateng' Ogwel

    Researcher
    May 18, 2021 | 02:13 p.m.

    Icon and Hannah,

    Thanks for sharing fun-based project that supports STEM learning. Use of mobile technologies must have enhanced participation. Thanks for sharing the links which are useful in assessing what could be contextualized in the Kenyan context

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Executive Producer, Ready To Learn
    May 11, 2021 | 08:19 a.m.

    Interesting project and nice video. Thanks for sharing! I'm curious which framework you are using for computational thinking. Did you use an existing one or develop your own? 

  • Icon for: Hannah Smith

    Hannah Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Ph.D. Candidate
    May 11, 2021 | 01:06 p.m.

    We are in the process of combining prior research and frameworks for computational thinking to apply to our own project! It has been an eye opening experience and has been great to learn from so many other frameworks and try to adapt them to fit our own unique project.

  • Icon for: Andres Colubri

    Andres Colubri

    Facilitator
    Assistant Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 09:38 a.m.

    I second Joan about the video, very nicely done. I'm curious how you are bridging the initial introduction of concepts about computational thinking in the context of games, and the actual "coding" using your visual programming tool. Sounds like the games are exclusively on mobile and incorporate a lot of sensor input (camera, etc). Is the idea to start with physical play activities and then guide the students to find the "algorithm" between these activities?

  • Icon for: Michael Chang

    Michael Chang

    Facilitator
    Postdoctoral Research
    May 11, 2021 | 11:51 a.m.

    A beautiful video!! Thank you so much for sharing. A few questions jumped into my mind. First, what types of events can the student’s program respond to? Next, I’m curious what happens when student’s imaginations about what they could program bump up against limitations of the programming language. For instance, finite state machines are fairly incompatible with the idea of loops, a pretty basic part of many games. How do teachers explain these limitations to students, and how do students adapt their ideas?

  • Icon for: Hannah Smith

    Hannah Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Ph.D. Candidate
    May 14, 2021 | 06:47 a.m.

    Hi Michael! Programs can respond to text input, button presses and button sequences that create a code. Students have the power to decide that the input takes the student to on the next screen. We have definitely run into limitations of the games that could be created, as students can be extremely creative and think of complex games. We have tried two different approaches to combat this. One is to adapt the un-programmable game to make it fit into our system with the teacher/researcher guidance and explaining how the system works through explaining another game. Another, is to explain the limitations of the system up front by showing the FSM diagram of a previously created game, before the students design a game, so that they stay within the limits of the system. I am wondering what your thoughts are on how to handle this?

  • Icon for: H Chad Lane

    H Chad Lane

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2021 | 11:26 a.m.

    I agree with everyone about your video - the children are clearly very excited, happy, and playful!  I would like to know more about the game creation tools, to what extent does it allow children to express their creativity and think about the perspective of someone else who might play their game?  What steps have you taken to ensure the games have educational value?  Thanks in advance!

  • Icon for: Hannah Smith

    Hannah Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Ph.D. Candidate
    May 14, 2021 | 06:43 a.m.

    Hi Chad! Our system features a debugger option for game creators, which puts them directly into the shoes of someone playing their game. It is a great way to understand the game as system. Children and teachers both have opportunities to show their creativity when creating games, currently they have all focused on math, but could extend to other subjects. We typically see recreations of popular games such as, scavenger hunts, capture the flag, hopscotch and relay races, but it is great to see the creativity of incorporating different math concepts into these games, especially as students create! When students create games, they typically create them for another student or class younger than them, where they would be a "math expert" in that topic. However, games are always checked by teachers or researchers before being programmed to check for correctness. We have also run a few studies assessing learning before and after playing games. Here is a journal article describing the process in more detail and with learning gains from three different teacher created games. https://citejournal.org/volume-20/issue-4-20/mathematics/developing-mathematics-knowledge-and-computational-thinking-through-game-play-and-design-a-professional-development-program/

  • Icon for: Zach Mbasu

    Zach Mbasu

    Informal Educator
    May 13, 2021 | 01:32 a.m.

    Very nice project and I appreciate what your team is doing! I like the fact that with the enhanced curriculum, you are going beyond dissemination of computational thinking content to building in mechanisms to gather data on the learners’ performance, adapting their design accordingly and informing teachers in real time. Have you tried measuring students’ learning through the games/activities and to what extent has the platform demonstrated it can meaningfully improve computational thinking skills?

  • Icon for: Hannah Smith

    Hannah Smith

    Co-Presenter
    Ph.D. Candidate
    May 14, 2021 | 06:38 a.m.

    Hi Zach! Thanks for your comment. Here is a journal article we have written on a professional development program we ran based on this project where we showed students made significant learning gains in math content after playing games. https://citejournal.org/volume-20/issue-4-20/mathematics/developing-mathematics-knowledge-and-computational-thinking-through-game-play-and-design-a-professional-development-program/ . We are still working on defining CT and coming up with a solid foundation and way to measure it, but recently ran a pilot study to collect data on our first version of a way to measure CT growth and are excited to look into that data. 

  • Icon for: Jeremy Roschelle

    Jeremy Roschelle

    Facilitator
    Executive Director, Learning Sciences
    May 13, 2021 | 11:49 a.m.

    Nice video! I'd like to go deeper: Can you share one specific concept that students learn with your platform? What have you discovered that enables students to go from not understanding to understanding that concept? And see you at the upcoming (virtual) September Cyberlearning meeting, I hope! 

  • Icon for: IVON ARROYO

    IVON ARROYO

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 14, 2021 | 01:51 p.m.

    Hi Jeremy!

    Thanks for seeing our video and your interest in the WLCP project!

    We first know that students improve in their math problem solving ability from before to after they play these games. This was an AERA article this year we presented.

    Regarding Computational Thinking, we have given students pre and posttests of 'finite state machines' problems in the past (one item about interpreting, one about modifying and one about creating a new one), and we know that (middle-high school students)  improved in that.

    However, we are now currently working on the creation of contextualized CT assessments (based on a few different theories), to understand better how they might be making progress in specific CT skills such as data representations, simulations and modeling, computational problem solving, and systems thinking. It is not an easy task, as we can see that students are concretely using a large variety of CT skills, but it is hard to show how these skils might change over time, as they are fairly abstract.

  • Icon for: Jeremy Roschelle

    Jeremy Roschelle

    Facilitator
    Executive Director, Learning Sciences
    May 17, 2021 | 12:37 a.m.

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I like Finite State Machines, as that's clearly content they wouldn't get otherwise.

  • Icon for: Ning Wang

    Ning Wang

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2021 | 08:04 a.m.

    Useful tool! So this device is only designed for K-12 usage?

  • Icon for: Erin Ottmar

    Erin Ottmar

    Co-Presenter
    Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Technology
    May 14, 2021 | 01:49 p.m.

    We designed this tool for K-12 usage but it definitely has uses outside of that range too. We find that teachers who participate in our PD sessions to play and make games learn a lot about CT as well. 

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