A new application which helps students to actively construct new knowledge

Two researchers from North Dakota State University, USA have developed a novel multi-user tool for the identification and classification of real world objects.

The study won the best paper award at the last year’s edition of the International Conference on e-Learning, e-Education and Online Training (eLEOT 2014) which took place in Bethesda, MD, USA, September 18-20, 2014.

The mentioned multi-user tool CIRCLE (Classification, Identification, and Retrieval-based Collaborative Learning Environment), aims at being a useful support for group efforts at taxonomy building by providing the suitable framework in the field and scientific hypothesizing and debate in a virtual laboratory. More specifically, the study of Otto Borchert and Brian M. Slator shows the theoretical framework of CIRCLE, through a detailed definition of the tool and the procedure to use it.

CIRCLE is composed of five different activities, including content acquisition (fieldwork), trait elaboration, hypothesis formation, tree construction and game play. This last step allows students to identify and classify the object in game form, stimulating them to interact through a range of given multimedia, traits, observations, and experiments. Furthermore, observing students during each of these stages can help in defining the right role of them in order to motivate their own learning process. Students can afford to:

  • Learn how to identify objects in the real world within their discipline of interest;
  • Define the required observations and experiments to identify these objects;
  • Classify these objects for faster identifications;
  • Use retrieval learning to strengthen their knowledge;
  • Gain collaboration skills.

As confirmed by the two researchers: ‘CIRCLE will utilize effective learning science principles, harness the advantages and inherent motivation of user generated content, including images, videos, sound, and text, allow for synchronous and asynchronous collaborative interactions, create a system of juried peer review of results and hypotheses, and finally create computationally generated “flashcard” games to strengthen student learning’.

And finally, what were the expectation of the implementation of CIRCLE? The researcher informed that their aim is to keep implementing their tool through a pilot usability study and classroom experiments to determine the effectiveness of the approach towards learning the identification of rocks and minerals (in a geology lab), weeds (in a weed identification course), and animals (in an ecology class).

To view and read the full paper you can click here.