Digital Learning Innovation in the Sciences

LIS is about taking the next step: moving away from theoretical discussion, and focusing on real, repeatable practices implemented by leading educators from across the country. 

In 2018, we turned our eyes to digital learning innovation in the sciences. Science education in K12 and Higher Ed faces unique challenges and opportunities, so we brought people together to discuss how we can champion student achievement.

Almost 250 innovators joined us at the NASA Ames Research Center on June 15th to meet and learn with educators from across academia, industry, and government offering diverse perspectives and lessons learned. 

Top 5 Things We Took Away from LIS18

  1. Proceed with caution: evidence shows that our intuitions aren’t the best guides. Instead of being wary of tech in education, though, we need to dive into the data and take cues from research on how to use tech to promote student success.
  2. High quality digital tools are those that support multiple learning goals. When paired with the scaffolding and context through teacher facilitation, they are highly effective.
  3. Collaboration is the way forward, be it through teaching networks, interdisciplinary connections, or community partnerships.
  4. When we’re innovating more effective and equitable models for education, assessment has to go hand in hand with learning.
  5. The goal of ed tech should be to enhance in instructors’ pedagogy, not to replace it. 

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Learning is a social endeavor.
—Rahim Rajan

Sessions from Leading Educators

Dr. Bror Saxberg
Dr. Bror Saxberg

Show Me the Evidence: The Art of Applying Learning Science in Learning Innovation

Decisions about old and new approaches to learning, from practices to products, seem like they would be naturally most effective when guided by research and evidence. How do we move toward more evidence-based decision-making? In his keynote, Dr. Saxberg lays out an approach to organizational change in education and training for effective innovation, embodied by the idea of “Learning Engineering.” He ends by discussing work Chan Zuckerberg Initiative looks forward to supporting to unblock this kind of decision-making. View Bror’s Slides Here

Dr. Kathy Perkins
Dr. Kathy Perkins

Learning by Doing in the Digital Age

How do we engage students in science practices while they’re also learning content? In this interactive session, we’ll discuss the challenges this goal presents when designing lessons and content for K-12 and Higher Education, as well as the ways in which the team that created PhET interactive simulations strives to help instructors achieve this objective using interactive digital tools. Presenter Dr. Kathy Perkins is Director of the PhET Interactive Simulations Project and a faculty member in the Physics Department. She also served as Associate Director (2006-10) and Director (2010-16) of CU’s Science Education Initiative. 

Dr. Ariel Anbar
Dr. Ariel Anbar

Digital Innovation: See It to Believe It

Why did a geoscientist from Arizona end up founding an interdisciplinary science initiative, an international teaching network, and co-designing two immersive science courses which have been taken by over twenty-two thousand students? Learn about how leading academics are compelled to rethink the goals of education, and the ways in which digital teaching and learning makes innovation possible. Prof. Ariel Anbar is a world-class science scholar at Arizona State University, where he is Director of the Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX). 

Dr. Philip Regier
Dr. Philip Regier

Scaling Digital Programs & Initiatives for Success

Learn from Dr. Philip Regier how intentional leveraging of digital learning innovations and data-driven student solutions have enabled his institution to grow from 400 fully-online students to more than 30,000, expand their online degree programs from six to more than 150, retain online students at unprecedented rates, and establish landmark programs such as the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.
View Phil’s Slides Here

Dr. Alina A. von Davier
Dr. Alina A. von Davier

The Future of Assessment

We measure the effectiveness of digital learning systems by their impact on students’ success, by the learning that occurs throughout the interactions with the systems, and by their fairness towards subgroups of students. This multi-faceted measurement perspective requires accurate instruments for measuring the success itself and accurate and unbiased computational models for measuring individual learning gains. 

Senior Vice President of ACTNext, by ACT, Alina von Davier, discusses the evolution of measurement from summative tests to rich, interactive, and adaptive modes of learning and assessment and the type of challenges and opportunities that these new systems bring along.
View Alina’s Slides Here

Tony Wan Rahim Rajan Dr. Wendy Oliver Dr. Philip Rous Jenny Raymond
Tony Wan, Rahim Rajan, Dr. Wendy Oliver, Dr. Philip Rous, Jenny Raymond

Driving Innovation Without Accidents: What Works & What Doesn’t When Trying to Improve Student Success

Digital Learning Innovation is arguably one of the most critical pieces of the larger Education Innovation puzzle. Universities have been trying many new approaches, but there is still a great need for investment, support structures, and staff members dedicated to the innovation of actual learning experiences. Panelists will be diving into exactly how and why some innovative initiatives fail while others succeed, and what institutions are doing to move the needle on improving student success.

Dr. Mike Lerner, Joe Tamer, Geoffrey Bruce, Ali Siddiqui speaking
Dr. Mike Lerner Joe Tamer Geoffrey Bruce Ali Siddiqui
Dr. Mike Lerner, Joe Tamer, Geoffrey Bruce, Ali Siddiqui

The Cutting Edge of Personalized Learning

How can technology help us replicate the desired learning outcomes of an irreplicable physical experience, like conducting a chemistry experiment in a lab? What about an impossible experience, like exploring Mars? In this session, participants learned how and why different experts have designed world-class digital science learning experiences.
View Mike’s Slides Here
View Joe’s Slides Here

Dr. Michelle Driessen, Steven Koether, Dr. Stephanie Levi-Blumer speaking
Dr. Michelle Driessen Steven Koether Dr. Stephanie Levi-Blumer
Dr. Michelle Driessen, Steven Koether, Dr. Stephanie Levi-Blumer

Let's Talk Pedagogy!

In this session participants learned how three leading instructors are using technology to enhance their pedagogy in the digital age. It’s time to think differently about the way we teach science!
View Michelle’s Slides Here
View Steven’s Slides Here
View Stephanie’s Slides Here

James Davis, Erfan Mojaddam, Lou Pugliese speaking
James Davis Erfan Mojaddam Lou Pugliese
James Davis, Erfan Mojaddam, Lou Pugliese

Supporting Innovative Initiatives

This session sparked conversations on different effective ways to support innovative initiative at the institutional level, how to scale these initiatives, and more. 
View Erfan’s Slides Here

Dr. Meirav Arieli-Attali, Amanda Newlin, Dr. Tom Fikes, Dr. René Kizilcec, Dr. Chris Mead speaking
Dr. Meirav Arieli-Attali Amanda Newlin Dr. Tom Fikes Dr. René Kizilcec Dr. Chris Mead
Dr. Meirav Arieli-Attali, Amanda Newlin, Dr. Tom Fikes, Dr. René Kizilcec, Dr. Chris Mead

What Does Research Tell Us About Effective (Digital) Learning?

In this session participants engaged with researchers who are pushing past the shiny exteriors of digital fads and finding real data to support or disprove different learning innovations’ effectiveness, from testing different scaffolding styles of digital content to the implications of online STEM courses on first-generation college students.
View Meirav’s Slides Here

Amanda Newlin, Emily Watson, Heather Newlin, Jillian Mochnick speaking
Amanda Newlin Emily Watson Heather Newlin Jillian Mochnick
Amanda Newlin, Emily Watson, Heather Newlin, Jillian Mochnick

Ready, Set, Go! The Learner-Centered Design Challenge

At Smart Sparrow, we believe learning should be fun. Creating and designing for it should be too. Participants joined a team of Learning Designers from SPR to be part of a fast-paced Design challenge.

Diana Hunsley, Dr. Ariel Anbar speaking
Diana Hunsley Dr. Ariel Anbar
Diana Hunsley, Dr. Ariel Anbar

Education Through Exploration: A New Model of Digital Learning Design

Participants joined us to examine a new theory of digital learning design that embraces exploration of the unknown, not just mastery of what is known, and the technologies that make it possible, online, at scale – Education Through Exploration. We will dive into digital learning experiences to discover how ETX design practices can be implemented to develop interactive and adaptive, personalized, learning experiences. This workshop is a special sneak preview of a new professional development program being developed by the Center for Education through Exploration at ASU.

Jessica Swann speaking
Jessica Swann
Jessica Swann

Promoting Equity for Students with Personalized Learning

Participants learned to build customized feedback to begin closing students’ achievement gaps using examples from NGSS-aligned digital learning experiences. They started exploring the intelligent tutoring system enabling Infiniscope to achieve these goals.
View the Slides Here

Sally Watt, Dr. David Schönstein speaking
Sally Watt Dr. David Schönstein
Sally Watt, Dr. David Schönstein

Design For Active Learning: Inquiry-Based Curriculum & Simulations

Workshop participants learned how to incorporate interactive simulations and projects into an exploration-based science curriculum from OLC Innovation Award winners, using Inspark Smart Courses developed as part of a Gates Foundation grant. This is a hands-on workshop introduced course authoring basics.
View Sally’s Slides Here

Dr. Chris Mead speaking
Dr. Chris Mead
Dr. Chris Mead

Future Directions in Research on Digital Teaching & Learning

An opportunity for researchers and interested non-researchers to reflect on and discuss ideas presented at the summit. Participants participated in topic- or methods-focused groups, then came together to synthesize from among these small groups. This offered space for participants to share experiences and perspectives on the current needs in the field as well as to form new research collaborations.

Interactive Demos

PhET Interactive Simulations

University of Colorado Boulder

Surgical Training VR

Osso VR

Online Interactive Chemistry Labs

Oregon State University

Virtual Field Trips

ASU Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX)

BioBeyond+Into the Cell VR

Inspark Teaching Network

Habitable Worlds

Inspark Teaching Network

Critical Chemistry

Inspark Teaching Network


Infiniscope, by NASA and ASU ETX

Eyes on the Solar System


Mars Trek


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