Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ITSA at SaltCon 2017


Started this year, ITSA has been hosting a weekly Game Jam in our Design Lab that gathers folks to play all types of games and discuss their design and educational value. In order to bring home some new games to showcase, we represented ITLS at this year's board game convention, SaltCon, in Layton, Utah on March 3rd and 4th.

This was a very exciting experience for both of us! A highlight was meeting new people - some work in the gaming industry, some promote and teach games as a hobby, and some, like us, just love to play games. We played and saw a variety of games including an trick-taking card games, eurogames, cooperative games, bidding games, etc. Some of these were exceptionally visually stunning and creatively designed.

One of our favorite parts of the weekend was serendipitously meeting the designer and creator of Trekking the National Parks, Charlie Bink. He offered to teach us a game we had on table, then the conversation segued into an amazing learning experience for us where he shared invaluable information about the design process, prototyping, and keeping the business running. We even got to test a prototype of one of his new games (we can't give anything away, though!).

We recommend giving SaltCon a go, whether you're an avid gamer or you're looking to try something new. This year we brought back quite a few new games to add to our game inventory, so join us on a Wednesday from 12-1 to test them out.
A few new games we acquired at SaltCon 2017

Stephanie Benson & Katarina Pantic

Monday, January 30, 2017

Departmental Awards


Congratulations to our 2016-2017 ITLS department award recipients:
  • Faculty Researcher of the Year: David Feldon
  • Faculty Mentor of the Year: Jody Clarke Midura
  • Master’s Student Researcher of the Year: Stephanie Benson
  • Doctoral Student Researcher of the Year: NamJu Kim
  • Undergraduate Researcher of the Year: Jacob Piland
  • Undergraduate Teaching fellow of the Year: Lindsee Park
  • Alumni Achievement Award: Mikaylie Kartchner (2010 ITLS MS graduate)
Thanks to the awards committee, to all of those who voted, and congratulations again to all of our winners and departmental nominees.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

CEHS NEWS - Children Learn to Connect through Translating Robots

Can a robot help children from different cultures learn together?
Dr. Yanghee Kim, an associate professor of instructional technology and learning sciences at Utah State University, is attempting to find out. With the help of a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Dr. Kim and her team of researchers will study how groups of young children interact with an educational robot.
The study builds on a previous research project conducted by Dr. Kim in which a robot, run via smartphone app, encouraged children to learn English through a series of games and activities.
The original robot was designed to work with children one-on-one, but during that research project Dr. Kim noticed that children were inviting others to participate with them.
“We didn’t have to teach them to take turns,” Dr. Kim said. “They invited their friends and then they naturally took turns, while other children were pointing and helping.”
This upcoming research project is designed to teach other academic skills beyond the English language. In addition, it can work as a “cultural broker,” Dr. Kim said. “Facing and managing diversity is a worldwide educational problem. Can we use this robot to mediate collaboration between people from different backgrounds?”
Because of the robot’s translation abilities, children who speak different languages can use the robot together. Children who aren’t proficient in English struggle in modern American classrooms, and research has shown that early difficulties often persist throughout a child’s educational career.
“If you don’t have a good command of English skills, there is no way to avoid falling behind in this academic journey,” Dr. Kim said. “Teaching academic skills is important, but the more important thing in early school years is building their potential, building their confidence, and building their positive identity.”
The hope is that allowing children of various backgrounds to work together will ultimately build bridges between cultures. “It’s not just a learning tool; it creates a social plaza,” Dr. Kim said. “The goal of this project is that two students can build positive identities and a respectful relationship.”
That can have an impact far outside the four walls of a classroom.
“We gather with birds of the same feather. Not because we are racist, but because it’s comfortable. We are not trained to work with people who have different perspectives and different cultural references,” Dr. Kim said. “We are different, but we can still work together.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dr. Belland is giving an Invited Talk at PNU, South Korea

Dr. Brian Belland is giving an invited talk titled “Making Problem-Centered Approaches Work: The Role of Scaffolding in Educating Future Learning Designers” at Pusan National University (South Korea) on Friday, December 9.
Abstract:  Scaffolding is support that helps students engage in activities (e.g., problem solving) that are beyond their unassisted capabilities. As such, it is an essential tool to facilitate the use of problem-centered instructional models, which have become very prominent in the USA and other parts of the world due to the need to help students develop problem solving skills in concert with content knowledge. Dr. Brian Belland presents lessons learned and directions for future research that stem from a project on meta-analysis of computer-based scaffolding in STEM education. Within the project, Belland and colleagues conducted traditional (between group), Bayesian network (within-group), and Bayesian (between group) meta-analyses of scaffolding in STEM education at the K-12, college, graduate, and adult levels. Within these syntheses, particularly strong effects were found among college and graduate level populations. Belland will provide examples of scaffolding strategies that were particularly efficacious in different contexts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

ITSA Brown Bag Series with Faculty Candidate : Michael Lachney


Computational Communities: An Ethnocomputing Framework for Building School - Community Connections

The presentation argues that ethnocomputing - the study of culture and computing wherever they interact - offers a way to open up new possibilities for deep socio-technical connections between schools and local communities. Through two case studies, the presenter will show how ethnocomputing opens up the affordances of socio-technical communities in ways that include but not limited to students' cultural heritage.

Date: December 1, 2016 At: Education Building Room 282.

                        Save the Date!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

EdSurge with Dr. Victor Lee

  Get familiar with EdSurge. Dr. Victor Lee's, an ITLS faculty member's work was mentioned.


Eye-trackers that detect when your mind is wandering. Clothes that let you “feel” what it’s like to be in someone else’s body. Sensors that connect your heart rate to how engaged you are in class. These are the kinds of wearable technologies that could soon impact how we learn.
That was the takeaway from a recent gathering of researchers studying how personal data might improve learners’ self-awareness and performance. At the first ever aWEAR conference on the use of wearable technologies in education, held this week at Stanford University, experts shared how self-tracking tools like Fitbits and motion sensors might give humans insight about the way they learn. 
                                                >Read More>>


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Invitation for Applications for Doctoral Scholars Program

The Department of Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences (ITLS) at Utah State University invites applications for its doctoral scholars program. This program guarantees 4 years of full tuition and stipend support, coupled with engagement in research projects directed by outstanding faculty. The ITLS Ph.D. program is nationally and internationally recognized for its research related to design and learning.  It prepares scholars for positions in universities and research organizations.  Faculty areas of specialization include problem-centered instruction, gaming and mobile learning, learning through Making, STEM education, instructional and interface design, learning analytics, and engaging underserved populations through technology. For more detail about the research of individual faculty, please visit http://itls.usu.edu/faculty/.

Applications for the 2017-2018 doctoral cohort are being accepted through January 31, 2017. To apply, go to http://rgs.usu.edu/graduateschool/admissions/apply/ Please direct any inquiries about the program or admissions process to Dr. Andrew Walker, department head, by email at andy.walker@usu.edu or by phone at (435) 797-2614. The department website can be found at http://itls.usu.edu/.