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Title: The role of physical place in hybrid and mixed reality environments. 


Jim Slotta (University of Toronto), 

Joel Wiebe (University of Toronto), 

Preeti Raman (University of Toronto) 

Tom Moher (University of Illinois, Chicago)


In recent months, educational researchers and practitioners have experienced a unique form of natural experiment, in which we have all been forced to remove physical co-location (e.g., classroom co-presence) from our designs. Teachers have had to redesign materials and activities for online learning, and researchers have had to re-imagine their interventions such that they can address their questions through online interactions. This has been particularly challenging for those of us who actually study the role of the physical classroom, including augmented, virtual and mixed reality learning environments. But in every case, educators have gained new appreciation for the importance of a shared physical environment (i.e., having previously ignored or taken this for granted, as a universal constant). Our presentation will review our recent studies of augmented and mixed reality environments, to understand how the classroom allowed for physical, social and curricular indexing, while also providing a shared sense of identity, common reference and source of narrative. We will discuss new research that applies these ideas to the design of learning for hybrid learning environments.


Professor Slotta holds the Canada Research Chair in Education and Technology. From 1997 – 2005, he was at the University of California, Berkeley where he led the design and development of the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment. Since 2005, he has directed the ENCORE lab – a team of students, designers and developers who investigate new models of collaborative and collective inquiry in K-12 science. His research investigates new forms of inquiry for K-12 science classrooms, where students engage with simulations and visualizations, collaborate with peers, and work as a knowledge community to investigate phenomena, contribute their own ideas, develop designs, and create scientific arguments. His research is conducted in close collaboration with teachers, ensuring their role as a learning partner and transforming their classrooms into creative and active learning environments. Professor Slotta maintains collaborations in Europe, North America and Asia, and has published and presented widely on the international stage.

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