Project in Technology: Mobile and Locomotive Learning ©

In the past decade, I have developed a research model utilizing the social affordances of technology to enhance cultural understanding, linguistic awareness, and ultimately promoting language learning and agency. The model utilizes virtual world game-based technology to engage language learners in projects that demand learners to coordinate problem solving. In the process of problem solving that the dynamic procedures of a project promote, learners are not only “pushed” to negotiate cultural and linguistic meanings, but also to take actions that reflect their values, perspectives and cultural dispositions. This model of research is rooted in the systemic approaches of ecological psychology and distributed cognition that foreground learning through emergence by participating in projects. In projects, the role of technology is inescapable because learners are given the driver’s seat, and they have to navigate through real world complexities. With the support of mobile technologies and appropriate guidance of mentors, it is possible and permissible for learners to tinker, discover, manipulate and test out. Thus the result of participating in projects is not just a set of scores, but tangible artifacts or virtual artifacts that embody a learners’ developmental trajectory, emotional investment, and projection of future actions. By establishing a model in evidence-based research and having a clear theoretical basis, practical Projects in Technology has encouraged cultural bridging between English and Mandarin speakers in ways that can be readily extended to other languages and contexts.

Book Volume — VIRTUAL WORLDS FOR LEARNING AND TEACHING: Applications of Distributed Language (see book companion website)

The Quest Atlantis International Consortium of Scholars For The Study of Gaming and Learning

The project aims to study the affordances of virtual world technologies for rethinking language learning. A 21st century virtual learning environment, Quest Atlantis, has made this investigation possible. With the support Indiana University and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grant for Quest Atlantis International Consortium Scholars and University of Hawaii Research Relations Fund, I was able to conduct this project in a local middle school in Northeast China. During this longitudinal study, three data collection points across a one-year time scale were conducted to fulfill the design-based research design. This large-scale project has generated a volume of video corpus of classroom and computer lab interactions. In addition, the corpus was enriched by each student-computer interaction that was captured using Morae and Camtasia. These data sets allow me to investigate adolescents’ being and becoming in their regular classrooms and computer lab, and their participation in the virtual world. Furthermore, using multimodal analytic tools, such as Transana, I continually explore how virtual worlds help to reveal a richer tapestry of language learning dynamics.

China World in Quest Atlantis

Indiana University Quest Atlantis International Consortium has been providing sufficient and valuable technical support for me to study language learning with virtual world technologies. A new project, with collaboration with my graduate students, is shaping up. A virtual world of China is being built in Quest Atlantis. Initial design was implemented in May 2011, and data collection was completed for this phase of design in a local school in Hawaii. The project is ongoing from the summer 2011 to fall 2011. I am seeking both internal and external funding to support this ongoing project. Please let me if you have any interest in joining us in this frontier adventure.


Many researchers who study collaboration and interactions in games have found that the unique role-play function can bring extra opportunities for deeper engagement. Embodied cognition approach claims that learners perceive and act with the world, and thus learning occurs during interactions. In this project, I am interested in looking at players’ interaction with Wii and with other players, and how they perceive language languaging during game play.

Second Life Chinese School: Access | Video Trailer | Enrollment Information

Second Life Chinese School is located in the middle of a meta-verse, called Second Life virtual world. There are 1 million registered residents in this user imagined and created world. Among them hundreds and thousands of educational institutions use Second Life as a distance learning platform to offer courses and build virtual campuses. Second life Chinese School created by Confucius Institute at Michigan State University can be viewed as an open 3D game-based courseware, which is designed upon concepts of ecological and sociocultural learning theories. Such design supports learner-centered activities in social and real-life environments.

Second Life Chinese School was created to serve the needs of adult learners who want to learn Chinese for business purposes or to fulfill college graduation requirements. In order to immerse our distance-learning students in real-life language learning experience, we built the island with functional architecture with an oriental charm, and design activities that motivate students to engage in multiple modes of learning. Using the China Panorama curriculum as a foundation, the Virtual Quest Curriculum aims to support Chinese language and culture learning in the following ways:

* First, put students in the center of learning with support from the teachers, tutors and environments, such as, providing students with goal-directed learning trajectories, scaffolding students in meaning-making activities, and attuning students appreciation of Chinese language and culture
* Second, cultivate students into a community where they can chat with native Chinese speakers for a cultural exchange or on-the-fly conversation.
* Third, situate students in the tension of activities, such as purchasing a jade gift for a friend, so that learners can activate their language resources and use them to solve problems.
* And fourth: provide students with traditional way of support, such as explaining cultural facts and knowledge and grammatical conventions.

The Virtual Quest Curriculum offers learners adventures in looking for a restaurant to eat, finding a friend in Beijing Hotel, or helping the historical “华夏博物馆(Huáxià Bówùguǎn)” to retrieve a lost sword. These types of activity, called co-questing, are common on our island. During co-questing, learners help each other, sometimes with the guidance of instructors and tutors, to solve problems in Chinese which fulfill goals of practicing language.

Second Life Chinese School brought a new breakthrough toward teaching Chinese as a foreign language. The activities provide both learning and real life experience. It is an organic and perfect integration of education and games. In this virtual Quest Curriculum, learners become the central participants and teachers become the facilitators.There are many challenging and entertaining questes embedded in Chinese Island. Join us and visit Second Life Chinese School created by Confucius Institute by Michigan State University. Get to know the friendly Chinese Island residents, you can learn Chinese, experience Chinese culture, feel the power of innovative teaching methods, and make your experience a fun and challenging one.

Chinese Chat Podcasts

Chinese Chat is a daily podcast series designed to teach Chinese through casual conversation. Each episode features Chinese and English speakers conversing in a talk-show format. Topics of the podcasts are wide ranging. Chinese Chat is a great tool for anyone who wants a taste of the Chinese language and culture, and is especially well suited to those who are busy.


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