Basser Seminar Series

Technologies to Advance Research in the Learning Sciences: From Agent-based Models in Computational Science to Intelligent Agent-augmented Multi-user Virtual Environments

Speaker: Michael J. Jacobson
Professor and Chair of Education, Faculty of Education and Social Work
The University of Sydney

Time: Wednesday 29 October 2008, 4-5pm

Location: The University of Sydney, School of IT Building, Lecture Theatre (Room 123), Level 1


This talk will provide an overview of recent research projects I have been involved with in which advanced modeling and virtual technologies have been used as part of research into how students can learn challenging conceptual knowledge and skills. An emerging theme in my research is how perspectives related to agents can generalize from computational approaches for modeling phenomena as diverse as complex physical and social systems and even theories of learning as well as for creating intelligent agents that can adaptively support student avatars in educationally oriented 3D multi-user virtual environments.

The presentation will provide demonstrations of systems developed to date and will conclude with discussions for possible ways to develop an agenda for how intelligent agents might be used to advance research in the field of the learning sciences.

Speaker's biography

Michael J. Jacobson, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at The University of Sydney where he is also affiliated with the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning and Cognition. Previously, he was an Associate Professor in the Learning Sciences Laboratory at the National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the Senior Associate Director and an Associate Professor at the Korea University Center for Teaching and Learning in Seoul, Korea. Dr. Jacobson has also held faculty and research positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanderbilt University, and The University of Georgia, and he has been involved with organizational and international consulting activities.

His research has focused on the design of learning technologies to foster deep conceptual understanding, conceptual change, and knowledge transfer in challenging conceptual domains. Most recently, his work has explored learning in agent-augmented multi-user virtual environments and with agent-based modeling and visualization tools, as well as cognitive and learning issues related to understanding new scientific perspectives emerging from the study of complex systems. Dr. Jacobson has published extensively in areas related to the learning sciences and technology, including scientific papers, book chapters, and one book (second one under contract). He has given talks and invited addresses at national and international conferences and served as an educational and business consultant both in the United States and abroad. His research has been funded by groups such as the Singapore Ministry of Education, Korean Ministry of Information and Communication, and U.S.

National Science Foundation. In addition, he is an Affiliate of the New England Complex Systems Institute and he served a member of the organizing committees for the International Conference on Complex Systems and the National Initiative on Complex Systems in K-16 Education. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991.