Nutella: The Construction and Enactment of Simulated Macroworlds

2017-10-22T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Alessandro Gnoli
In the last twenty years the development of new technologies has radically expanded the kind of activity structures that can be designed and built for the classroom. A subset among these technology-enhanced learning environments, that I call macroworlds, leverages the notions of ubiquitous computing, distributed interaction, and the increasing availability in classrooms of pervasive, non-desktop technologies (e.g. handhelds, large wall-mounted displays, tangibles and many others) to provide engaging ways for students to “experience” and interact with classroom-sized simulations of scientific phenomena. So far, a number of studies demonstrated how macroworlds can help students engage in authentic science practices, and build meaningful connections between physical activity and important principles in different science domains, making macroworlds an active area of research both in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and the Learning Sciences. Despite their promise, macroworlds have proven challenging to design, build, and enact, restricting this kind of learning environments to only few exemplars. In particular, one of the main challenges faced by developers while building and enacting macroworlds is the lack of a software framework supporting these processes, specifically designed to address the requirements of this learning technology. This work focuses on tackling this issue and presents a method, a set of guidelines and a software framework to support the construction and enactment of macroworlds.