CASE NASA: Utilizing Phenomenon-Based Learning and xAPI in Organizational Framework

CASE NASA: Utilizing Phenomenon-Based Learning and xAPI in Organizational Framework

Digital transformation is indisputably influencing the way organizations operate. Before, communication and interactions used to be physical and often contained to local geographic boundaries. Today, anyone with an access to the Internet and a computer or a mobile device is able to reach content and decide when and where to learn. Thus, organizations are experiencing a pressure to improve learning experience online in order to keep the learners engaged and motivated.


NASA typically works on some of the world’s most challenging problems with partners around the world. In the coming years a large percentage of NASA’s experienced engineers and scientists will be retiring, which creates huge challenges in an industry where much of the resources are focused around human capital. Therefore, one of the main concerns at NASA is the ability to attract the best and brightest graduating engineers and scientists to work at NASA.


To create global interest in space, NASA initiated a Epic Challenge program and virtual platform called the Collaboratory, where students around the world work together to solve an epic challenge; for example, sustaining humans on Mars. In collaboration with Finnish learning technology experts, NASA created a digital learning experience platform, where Epic Challenge students can virtually work in swarms/teams and to utilize information they have learned by individual research, from team members/peers, or from subject-matter-experts.


The digital learning experience platform allows experimenting new learning pedagogies, such as phenomenon-based learning. Using a combination of Experience API (xAPI) and Learning Record Store (LRS) standards, the learning experience platform offers powerful learning analytics engine for tracking learning processes. xAPI collects all important learning activities, including informal learning, social learning and real world experiences. LRS receives, stores and returns to data considering accomplished learning activities, achievements and learning performance.


So far, the learning analytics imply that utilizing phenomenon-based learning and storytelling has had a positive effect in the way groups of students are immersed in the problem and engaged when solving the problem. It remains to be seen, whether the students manage to solve one of the most epic challenges facing humanity. But one thing is for sure, the virtual platform plays a crucial role in enhancing the epic problem solving process.


Dr. Charles Camarda, NASA Senior Advisor for Engineering Development

Janne Hietala, Chief Commercial Officer, Arcusys

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