Children are fascinated by animals. When they find themselves in a forest they discover a tremendous amount about how animals interact, where they live, and how they survive, all without formal guidance. Place the same students in a classroom, however, and suddenly this excitement turns to distaste. This happens because schools remove the elements that makes the forest experience compelling: self guided exploration where discovery of something unexpected is possible.
Creanimate's combination of asking open-ended questions and providing interesting video cases at well timed intervals, helps shift learning about biology from a passive task, with lists of facts to be memorized, into an exciting activity in which students engage in the exploration and explanation cycle. Open ended questions are used within Creanimate to create a investigatory dialog between the student and the computer. As the student proposes a trait change, Creanimate raises questions about the impact and reasoning of those changes. When the student resolves those questions with new changes, the cycle begins again with Creanimate presenting new queries. This cycle closely resembles a dialog the student would have with an actual biologist in a one on one discussion.
Creanimate also takes advantage of the fact that people are natural case-based reasoners. When a novel problem arises, people quickly look to similar situations in the past for solutions. Creanimate capitalizes on this fact by providing videos of animals acting naturally when they relate to the students current goals. By viewing different animals behaving in a variety of ways, students are able to consider methods and motivations of animal survival that differ from their original rationale.
The Students Who Used Creanimate
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