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principles of learning in multirepresentational environments

April 19, 2007

For some years i have been conducting research in multi-representational learning environments.
What i mean by those is envornments where student is presented to various information sources from different contexts and representational types and expected to construct knowledge through problem-solving, decision-making, designing or inquiry activities.

Some examples of those are presented at the biology materials web-page of my unit, but there are plenty of nice environments one might take a look like WISE, Lake Illuka, Nardoo River (those you need to buy), BGuile (downloadable) and others.

My ideas of these environments are related with conceptual learning in general. Major idea is not to look and describe separate principles of multimedia instruction like Richard Mayer has done (e.g. Principles of Multimedia Learning from Cambridge University Press from last year), but analyse these environments at larger grain size. What i mean is looking the semiosis possibilities these environments afford to the learners who act in them.

The key ideas are, which translation borders these environments have, and how do the translation possibilities become realised by learners. The concepts i have played around with are: awareness of learning objects in the multi-representational environment, translation between contextual and representational systems, which do not have total overlap in information, cognitive load in these systems..and i think, also the affordance ideas have been used at one paper to some extent. The latter needs a new refresh look because i have worked on that concept for some time in web 2.0 learning domain, and it is about time of translating those ideas into new context and see what would happen.

Why i am writing about all of it today, is because i will have a lecture on saturday about these issues, and i prepared my presentation (in estonian) to elaborate the multi-representational environments. I think it would be a good idea to write of this approach as a generalization of semiotic ideas in learning design.

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