Principal Investigator: John Walsh
Organization: University of Southern California
The Use of Multimedia, Social Media and Gaming to Teach Neuroscience Via Mobile Devices project creates an innovative online STEM educational platform for delivering undergraduate neuroscience curriculum that optimizes the use of multimedia, game psychology and social networking. The expected outcome of this novel approach to neuroscience education is an increase in student engagement, an expansion of the instructive reach of the professor beyond the classroom, and an improvement in student retention of course material. The web platform is all-inclusive and equipped to handle an entire semester’s curriculum and promotes a classroom experience that enhances student engagement, affinity and knowledge in neuroscience beyond that achieved by traditional instructional methods. The use of HTML5 web design is key to use and dissemination of this project, since it ensures access from any computer or mobile device, regardless of its operating system. This extends the learning experience outside the classroom and it optimizes the use of open access educational multimedia that is available online by enhancing coordinated delivery. Professors are able to customize the integration of open access materials within the framework of their own course design. HTML design also guards against changes in web standards through its backwards compatibility. Social networking technologies used in the platform improve the learning process by fostering student collaboration and co-learning through familiar communication technologies. The game-mechanics in the platform immerse students in the course through reward and engagement mechanisms built into the game design. Ultimately, the neuroscience instructional platform creates a site for faculty and student development which illustrates best-practices for both instructors and students on how to effectively use it, including a blog for discussing success and failure.
Impact on teachers and students is tested directly in a large general education (GE) course using proper statistical methods to evaluate the online platform’s merit to science instruction. The principal investigator operates a neurophysiology research laboratory at USC, and is the professor in charge of implementing the proposed neuroscience education platform into his large GE course in neuroscience. Worldwide access by students, as well as professors who are seeking ways to modernize their own science courses, is enhanced by the immediate accessibility online offered by the platform employed in this project. Moreover, the project platform advances the potential for networking with developers of online science education tools, thus increasing collaboration and utilization of online educational resources developed through support by government grants and private foundations. The neuroscience course developed and the platform it is constructed into serves as a test case for easy-to-use platforms designed for instructors to create their own mobile-based learning environment for their field of STEM education.