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"SMALLab": Virtual Geology Studies Using Embodied Learning with Motion, Sound, and Graphics

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Educational Media International Volume 46, Number 4, ISSN 0952-3987


We present a new and innovative interface that allows the learner's body to move freely in a multimodal learning environment. The Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Laboratory ("SMALLab") uses 3D object tracking, real time graphics, and surround-sound to enhance embodied learning. Our hypothesis is that optimal learning and retention occur when learning is embodied, multiple modalities are recruited, and learners are allowed to be highly collaborative. We present two geology studies in a high school setting. In the layer cake scenario, students learned more after three days of building and discussing depositional layers in "SMALLab" than would be expected from a simple retest effect. In the contour mapping scenario, students learned significantly more after creating and discussing maps in the "SMALLab" environment for three days, compared with a group that received three days of regular instruction with hands-on projects. We contend that embodied, collaborative, virtual environments have much to offer STEM learners, and the learning gains transcend those that can be expected from more traditional classroom procedures. (Contains 2 tables and 5 figures.)


Johnson-Glenberg, M.C., Birchfield, D. & Usyal, S. (2009). "SMALLab": Virtual Geology Studies Using Embodied Learning with Motion, Sound, and Graphics. Educational Media International, 46(4), 267-280. Retrieved May 23, 2019 from .

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