Educational virtual environments as a lens for understanding both precise repeatability and specific variation in learning ecologies

Posted: March 12, 2013 in Trend in ELT Assignment
Steven J. Zuiker
Steven J. Zuiker is a learning scientist whose research explores the mutual influences among principled designs of learning environment sandsocio-cultural condition
of  learning communities. Address for correspondence : Dr Steven J. Zuiker, Department of Learning Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 1 Nanyang Walk, Singapore639732, Singapore. Email: szuiker@gmail.com

Abstract
As a global cyberinfrastructure, the Internet makes authentic digital problem spaces likeeducational virtual environments (EVEs) available to a wide range of classrooms, schoolsand education systems operating under different circumstantial, practical, social and cultural conditions. And yet, if  them.
EVEs both have a hand in what can be initially achieved and subsequently repeated, then replication is not only amatter of  precise repeatability but also specific variation. In this light, the study enlists one EVE in order toexamine both classroom learning and educational research methodology. Two Singapore secondary school enactments of the
Quest  Atlantis
Taiga curriculum are compared withone another and with previously published US enactments. Statistically significant learn-inggainspreciselyrepeatBarabandcolleagues’findingswhileclassroompracticesspecifi-cally vary from its design narratives. Descriptions of the progressive development of Singapore enactments illustrate a methodological tack for understanding continuity andchangewithinSingaporeclassroomsandbetweenSingaporeandUSclassroomsasneces-sary functions of diversity. The juxtaposition of these analyses characterize tensionsbetween replication and implementation fidelity and, in turn, frame EVEs as a tool forunderstanding and leveraging precise repeatability and specific variability of curricula.
Introduction
As a global cyberinfrastructure, the internet makes authentic digital problem spaces like educa-tionalvirtualenvironments(EVEs)availabletoawiderangeof classrooms,schoolsandeducationsystems operating under different circumstantial, practical, social and cultural conditions. Andyet, while the reach of EVEs is global, the experience of them is inevitably local. In this view, theobjective technological features underlying these environments remain embedded in humanperspectives and pervasive background conditions (Rommetveit, 1998; Zuiker & Ang, 2011).Curricular designs and accompanying local conditions together with participants comprise aholistic learning ecology (eg, Cobb, diSessa, Lehrer, Confrey & Schauble, 2003). As such, aclassroom can be conceptualized as an interdependent social system in which nested subsystemsmutually influence one another. This study considers how such interplay presents both chal-lenges and opportunities that EVEs can productively engage.EVEs present unique affordances for learning and research. In a synthesis of recent literature,Mikropolous and Natis (2010) identify common technological characteristics featured in EVEs:
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