Sydney School of Education and Social Work events - 2012 Archive

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Beyond Serious Games: Computational scientific inquiry with agent-based virtual environments for learning

31 October 2012

Join us on the 31st of October for a CoCo-CHAI-LATTE seminar by Professor Michael J. Jacobson titled ‘Beyond Serious Games: Computational scientific inquiry with agent-based virtual environments for learning’.

The use of games to serve educational purposes, sometimes referred to as “serious games,” has been receiving considerable recent attention.

Implicit in much of the research in this area is that learning mainly occurs in the virtual experiences of the game and that later the learners will in turn be able to apply or use their new understandings and knowledge skills to new problems and contexts.

In contrast, the research discussed in this talk explores the thesis that virtual experiences may be able to reflect salient aspects of the cultural practices of science as part of the learning activities.

A consequence of this perspective is that learning does not wholly occur “in” the virtual experiences of a serious game, but rather, learning is mediated by virtual experiences that reflect culturally authentic practices in modern science.

I discuss research which my team has developed an agent-based virtual environment consisting of an immersive virtual world for experiencing and exploring a complex ecosystem as part of "virtual" biology fieldwork.

I discuss findings from a recent school-based study and consider Implications of this approach for learning science (and other subjects) in formal and informal learning environments.

This seminar will be available live online at

Event details

  • When: 11.00am - 12.30pm
  • Where: Education Building (A35), Room 230
  • Cost: Free
  • Contact:

    Sadhbh Warren

    T: 9351 2612



  • Speaker/ Performer:

    Dr Michael Jacobson is a professor and Chair of Education at the University of Sydney. He also is the co-director of the Centre for Research on Computer-supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo) and deputy director of the Institute for Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education.

    Previously, he was an associate professor in the Learning Sciences Laboratory (which he helped establish) at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the senior associate director and an associate professor at the Korea University Center for Teaching and Learning.

    Professor Jacobson has also held faculty and research positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Georgia. His research has focused on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains.

    Most recently, his work has explored learning with immersive virtual environments and agent-based modelling and visualisation tools, as well as cognitive and learning issues related to understanding the new scientific perspectives that continue to be uncovered by researchers engaged in studying complex systems.

    Professor Jacobson has published extensively in areas related to the learning sciences and technology, including numerous scientific papers, book chapters, and two books. His 2006 paper in the highly ranked Journal of the Learning Sciences (with Uri Wilensky) was the most cited paper in the journal between 2006 and 2011.

    He has given talks and invited addresses at national and international conferences and served as an educational and business consultant in various countries.

    His research has been funded by groups such as the Australian Research Council, Singapore Ministry of Education, Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, and US National Science Foundation.

    In addition, Professor Jacobson is an affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute, and was chair of the 10th International Conference of the Learning Sciences, which had the conference theme of “the future of learning”.

Beyond Serious Games: Computational scientific inquiry with agent-based virtual environments for learning


31 October 2012

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