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Creating One to One Learning opportunities across the Internet

DEMO Lab at
Brandeis University's Computer Science Department,

Educational Technology Projects



Spelling Bee


Mission Statement

It was hoped by many that the advent of computer technology in the classroom would lead to a revolutionary leap in educational outcomes; yet so far, it has not. If children are still arranged in large groups, placed with others solely according to age and demographic backgrounds, taught by one overwhelmed adult, how will merely wiring classrooms serve to advance learning?

We propose a new kind of networked "anytime" learning system, based on one to one peer interactions shielded by and facilitated on the Internet. Our pedagogical hypothesis is that students learn best when continually challenged in a diverse environment. Matching students with appropriate learning partners and curricular material can be done with today’s Internet technology and the availability of classroom connectivity, overcoming economic facts which place students in age and geographically segregated classrooms. We are transferring our state-of-the-art knowledge in complex systems into practical technologies that can provide challenges which adapt automatically as students learn. Our technology is based on adaptive computation rather than knowledge-based reasoning, and can work with existing technology infrastructure of most public schools. Internet multiplayer gaming environments have been proven to scale to millions of users, as well as having high intrinsic motivation.

Imagine a gifted 3rd grader and a 9th grader in need of remediation who operate at the same academic level, being able to work together to solve a puzzle or build a virtual bridge, quiz each other with spelling words or logical sequence problems. Perhaps the third grader was bored in class and the ninth grader was demoralized; but through their Internet browsers, they can create for each other opportunities to learn. In the real world, this cannot happen, due to the social or emotional risks of a physical encounter. But in the virtual world, nobody knows your name, age, gender, race or socioeconomic background.

Our long-term goal is to achieve better learning results from students by maintaining interest, motivation and challenge. Our work also has significance to educators as a productivity tool for managing group work, since it supports social construction of small groups (pairs) of participants based on changing metrics of student abilities.

Our team encompasses experience building on-line interac-tive games and web sites, working with children in schools, establishing connections to industry and facilitating technology transfer. In preliminary work, supported by an NSF SGER grant, we have implemented a preliminary software system that delivers educational activities over the Internet.

Please visit our projects and meet our team. Our web site is being updated, so please visit us again as new work will be posted in the next few months.


DEMO logo
Jordan Pollack, Associate Professor (pollack@cs.brandeis.edu)
Elizabeth Sklar, Assistant Professor (sklar@cs.bc.edu)
Anthony Bucci, Graduate Student (abucci@cs.brandeis.edu)
Ann Marion, Project Manager (amarion@cs.brandeis.edu)
Computer Science Department
Brandeis University
Waltham MA 02454-9110 USA


The web site for Educational Technologies is http://www.demo.cs.brandeis.edu/edtech - please visit us!