This article explores an application of immersive learning theory in an Australian secondary school. The emphasis in this study is on the development and implementation of a learning environment that encompasses four essential learning elements: immersion, engagement, agency, and risk (Blashki, Nichol, Jia, & Prompramotes, 2007; Nichol & Blashki, in press). The following documents the impact of a “purpose-specific environment” (Blashki, 2000) created at Karingal Park Secondary College (KPSC) and referred to as the max learning space. The max learning space (“The Max”) was constructed, both physically and pedagogically, upon the precepts of immersive learning for year 7 students to enhance and support their initiation into secondary school learning.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Agency: Whereby the student/learner has active control over the learning process and can effect change over the content, structure, and outcomes of the learning process.
Active Learning: Variously described as comprising a type of instruction that teachers employ to involve students during the learning process. It is often associated with the term “learning by doing” and often contrasted with less active forms of instruction (Bonwell & Eison, 1991 AU16: The in-text citation "Bonwell & Eison, 1991" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ). In the context of this study, it actively encourages and involves the student in the process of knowledge production and acquisition.
Constructivism: Is a perspective that considers knowledge as a “construction” according to the particular experiences, ideas, and bias of the learner. Thus knowledge is not granted any external “transcendent” reality, that is, it is not integral, but rather is premised on conventional acceptance perception, assumption, and social experience. It is also a widely held pedagogic theory espoused by many respected researchers and practitioners such as John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Jerome Bruner, Herbert Simon, and so forth.
Self-Regulated: Self-regulated can be used to describe learning that is premised on metacognitive strategic actions such as planning, monitoring, and evaluating personal progress against a standard, and a motivation to learn (Butler & Winne, 1995 AU17: The in-text citation "Butler & Winne, 1995" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Winne & Perry, 2000 AU18: The in-text citation "Winne & Perry, 2000" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Perry, Phillips, & Hutchinson, 2006 AU19: The in-text citation "Perry, Phillips, & Hutchinson, 2006" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Zimmerman, 1990 AU20: The in-text citation "Zimmerman, 1990" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).
Immersive Learning: In the context of this study, immersive learning embraces a “philosophic” approach which accords learners with agency over their own learning process; that is, learners have the ability to choose their own learning destiny, with control over the decisions they make (and learning by the mistakes), and to manage, structure, and control the learning objectives, delivery, and outcomes.
Learner-Centered: Learner-centered concepts are teaching practices that are premised on recognition of the student/learner as the primary focus of the generation and exploration of knowledge/curriculum. Learner-centric practices value the exploratory and past experiences of the student/learner and the student/learner’s attempts to grapple with the transition of knowledge from unknown to known. In this study the authors understand learner-centred practices to be the preferred method of working with students in an immersive learning environment.
Authentic Learning: Authentic learning allows students to explore, discover, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant and interesting to the learner. (From: M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino (Eds.), How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice .) In this study the authors would also add that authentic learning describes learning that resonates with the student’s particular search, interest, and/or needs.