Research into learning environments naturally emphasises the positive merits and benefits of technologies upon which their very existence depends. As learning environments mature, it becomes ever more important to examine the full impact of the underlying technologies critically. We argue that exploratory and collaborative learning is not well-served by the predominantly symbolic protocol-driven basis for communication that computing technology promotes. To address this issue, we apply Empirical Modelling (EM) principles to make construals: interactive environments that can be co-constructed by collaborating human agents so as to reflect their fluid understanding and developing knowledge of a subject domain. This approach is particularly well-suited to the medical domain, where reasoning draws on scientific knowledge and evolving human experience and judgement, and learning is not based on theory alone. We illustrate this via a proof-of-concept collaborative case study in which we draw on our technical and medical expertise to develop construals of malaria. To this end, we exploit a web-enabled variant of the principal EM tool that enables many agents to participate in exploratory learning activity.
Links to relevant construals
The paper refers to online construals of malaria which are the subject of ongoing development. These can be accessed via the link http://www.dcs.warwick.ac.uk/~wmb/malaria.