Agent-augmented multi-user virtual environments and computational agent-based models: Beyond heat from a burning fire?

Michael Jacobson


Unlike standing next to a fire, where one automatically gets warm, student experiences in immersive, computational modeling, and advanced visualisation environments do not automatically result in enhanced learning of challenging scientific knowledge and skills. Two design research studies are discussed. The first study involved an agent-augmented multi-user virtual environment in which students engaged in science inquiry activities to determine why the virtual 19th century agents were getting sick. The second study explored learning activities that varied the degree of scaffolding provided for using agent-based models of the physics of electricity. The learning sciences theoretical grounding and significant empirical findings for each study are presented and implications discussed.

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