Cracking the Code of Cyberlearning

When I mention my work with the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL), people often ask, “So, what exactly is cyberlearning?” It’s a good question with a broad answer. Cyberlearning draws on a wide array of technologies, applications, and learning theories to create experiences that improve, foster, and assess learning. The field uses technology to make learning experiences work for specific disciplinary areas and for different populations, and its scope stretches far beyond K–12 to encompass lifelong learning or “K–Gray education.”

On CIRCL’s website, you can get a taste of the breadth and depth of the cyberlearning projects that are underway with funding from the NSF. The website is part of SRI International’s and EDC’s work as a national center focused on supporting these projects. One year into our work, we’re deeply engaged in convening project leaders in large summits and small working groups to share challenges and lessons learned, providing consultation, helping the NSF track the projects’ progress, and sharing information about cyberlearning and project findings.

Part of CIRCL’s mission is to share information and findings beyond the cyberlearning community. So, if you don’t know much about cyberlearning, you can learn a lot more on CIRCL’s website. Over the next few months, check the website for a new series of briefs featuring key findings based on interviews with experts in the field. Written for a wide audience, the series will cover topics such as games, virtual worlds, and design-based implementation research.

Right now, if you visit CIRCL’s site you can find out why people in the field feel that cyberlearning R&D is important, and you can explore the insights of leaders in the field like Michelle WilliamsScot OsterweilGordon FreemanStephanie Teasley, and Alex Repenning. Although they are all engaged in very different initiatives, what the work of these leaders—and all cyberlearning—has in common is a shared quest to improve learning.

Two of these leaders—Michelle Williams and Stephanie Teasley—with EDC’s Joyce Malyn-Smith and other experts presented at CIRCL’s 2014 Cyberlearning Summit that took place June 9–10 in Madison, Wisconsin. This year’s Summit spotlighted progress in the field, presented new findings on how people learn with technology, and shared strategies for using cyberlearning technologies to gather data to deepen our understanding of learning. To learn more about the Summit visit SRI's recent blog post sharing highlights from the convening. 

Sarita Pillai is the Principal Investigator on STELAR and is the co-PI of the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL), a collaboration with SRI International and NORC (evaluator) that is advancing the efforts of projects funded by the NSF Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies program. Sarita has extensive expertise in managing national resource centers, providing technical assistance, building and sustaining communities of practice, and developing powerful technology-based resources including SMARTR Virtual Learning Experiences and Girls Communicating Career Connections