Immersive Learning – SMALLabs

[Across the Pittsburgh region there’s growing interest in experiential and immersive learning. In this Remake Learning article the work done by the Elizabeth Forward School District with the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University is highlighted. I’ve had a chance to observe and experience the technology. It’s definitely engaging and students love it.]

Written by Natalie Orenstein on November 3, 2015

Screenshot/SMALLab Learning

Screenshot/SMALLab Learning

This fall, an already robust partnership between SMALLab, the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and Pittsburgh area schools is expanding.

SMALLab—which stands for Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab—is a kind of 3-D game interface that uses a ceiling-mounted projector, motion-sensor cameras, and a computer to create a kinesthetic learning environment for students.

In the coming year, CMU students will work with teachers from eight local districts to create SMALLab games and lessons tailored to their classrooms.

SMALLab was developed at Arizona State University in 2010, and has since found its way into classrooms throughout the country. The motion sensors help create a kinesthetic learning experience for the students, employing all their sense. Physics students playing a game about velocity, for example, will hear sounds that correspond to their speeds. Meanwhile, software tracks the students’ performance and provides feedback after the game.

The recent SMALLab expansion is in its nascent stage, but previous work by CMU students provides some insight into what’s to come. Since 2013, the ETC students have been developing SMALLab games, also called “scenarios,” for Pittsburgh’s Elizabeth Forward School District, the first public schools ever to use the technology.

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