The Instructor Design Interface - Providing Pedagogical Flexibility
A great strength of this Project is that a truly innovative and straightforward Web-based instructor design interface will be developed to enable teachers to modify the instructional time, the environmental context of the game, the math and science focus, and the simulation parameters.
The Alaskan earthquake shelter will serve as the prototypical activity, but the interface will provide a framework and tools that guide teachers in using Project pedagogy to define additional scenarios. The interface will be user-friendly. It will be refined through field testing to provide educators with the flexibility to adapt the quest to meet various instructional needs.
Emergency shelters are needed to house people temporarily in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, and war. The type of shelter depends on the environmental context, but the design is underpinned by core engineering ideas such as structural strength, wind load, area and volume, air exchange, and properties of materials. As such, emergency shelters provide an excellent example of how educational simulations can utilize the same core algorithms and object definitions, but permit modification of features either parametrically or by type.
The instructor design interface will contain a library of 3-D objects that can be clicked on and dragged into place as design elements. Insulation materials, plastic sheeting, framing materials, and stovepipe are examples of objects in the parts library. Teachers will be able to easily modify the descriptive parameters associated with these objects. By changing the parts in the library, teachers can alter the scope of solutions. In one context, a structure might shelter Alaskan earthquake victims, and in another, lost hikers. Temporary shelters might be designed for refugees in Darfur, or for hurricane victims in New Orleans.
Note:The interface itself will be modifiable (reprogrammable). Hence, new projects can cost-effectively utilize its framework and core structure to adapt its use to other STEM curricula.