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1 Definition

  • BioLogica is a hypermodel, i.e. a kind of microworld for teaching fundamental concepts in biology. It runs within the Pedagogica system (that also runs other microworlds).
BioLogica is a a hypermodel for teaching high school genetics, developed over the last four years with support from the National Science Foundation. The software runs on both Windows and Macintosh computers. BioLogica enables students to manipulate processes at different, but dynamically related levels of life function. Like its predecessor program GenScope, BioLogica includes tools and representations that focus on genetics. Building on that foundation, BioLogica has developed modules and student activities that embody increasingly elaborate models of the parts, processes, and mechanisms of genetics. The hypermodel, which embeds curriculum and assessment functions within a computer-based manipulable model, is a powerful tool for the development of educational activities that embody a model-based learning approach.
(About BioLogica, retrieved 17:50, 18 August 2007 (MEST)).

2 History

  • Biologica is a successor system of GenScope. “ Superficially, BioLogica looks a lot like GenScope. It has the same dragon species, though we plan to add more, and many of the same levels and tools. But whereas GenScope is a general purpose tool that students can use to investigate genetic phenomena, BioLogica is a tool with which researchers and teachers can develop genetics curriculum in the form of web-labs”. (retrieved 18:44, 21 July 2006 (MEST)).

Where GenScope's interface can be described as tool-driven, BioLogica's is activity-driven.

3 Conceptual Framework

According to the BioLogica Research page (retrieved 17:50, 18 August 2007 (MEST)), the team's basic hypothesis is that understanding biological phenomena requires learners to construct, elaborate and revise mental models of the phenomena under study. Accordingly the authors claim that “The importance of models and modeling in scientific research has been widely documented. Models are used both to describe scientific phenomena and to generate testable hypotheses. Today, models and modeling are considered essential components of scientific literacy. With the importance of models and modeling to science education comes the need for a coherent theory of model-based teaching and learning (MBTL).”

MBTL can be summarized with this picture:

Model based teaching and learning

In response to task demands, learners who are engaged in model-based learning construct models from prior knowledge and new information. If the model enables them to perform the task successfully the model is reinforced. However, if the model does not enable successful performance, the model may be rejected and a new one constructed. Or the model may be revised or elaborated prior to another attempt . Such model-based learning results in knowledge that is integrated, usable and extensible in the domain. The model-based learning framework shown in Figure 1 represents the cognitive core of the learner level our model of classroom learning. In addition, there are learner beliefs that influence the effort a learner chooses to invest in the task and in participation in the classroom culture, which presents not only a variety of tasks but also participation structures affecting a learner's interactions with phenomena, resources, tools, and other learners. These factors along with commonly held beliefs constitute the classroom culture and therefore are key elements in the classroom level of our developing multilevel model of learning with hypermodels.
(BioLogica Research Page, retrieved 17:50, 18 August 2007 (MEST). The author is maybe B. C. Buckley.)

4 Features and architecture

4.1 Architecture

The BioLogica system is built with three separate layers, also called engines:

  • At the lowest level is the domain engine, a database plus views to display information.
  • Pedagogica, as the name suggests, handles all things pedagogical. It controls the flow of activity and is in charge of all interface details like placing text boxes, buttons, tools, domain engine views on the screen.
  • The scripting engine allows the curriculum developer to create a "web-lab", i.e. a usable learning environment.

Note: The global system that runs GenScope is also called Pedagogica, a bit confusing, but maybe that was decided after the above information was written ...

4.2 My Dragon Baby

Daniel K. Schneider made a dragon baby in 10 minutes (most of which was spent with downloading the software).

Step 1:

Dragon Baby - step 1

Step 2:

Dragon Baby - step 2

Step 3:

Dragon Baby - step 3

Of course, I didn't learn much. This is a typical simulation without teacher and teaching scenario effect. Maybe you are not totally happy with Alicia. I think she should have wings. By clicking on the + icon you could see chromosomes details .... an make a baby with wings ;)

4.3 Requirements

  • The system ran once over the Internet (now disabled 18:44, 21 July 2006 (MEST))
  • An off-line version is available from the Concord Consortium as of August 2007. Simply download Pedagogica. It will include Biologica plus other microworlds.

5 Links

BioLogica Home page.

6 References

  • Boulter, C. J., & Buckley, B. C. (2000). Constructing a typology of models for science education. In J. K. Gilbert & C. J. Boulter (Eds.), Developing models in science education (pp. 25-42). Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer.
  • Buckley, B. C. (1992). Multimedia, misconceptions and working models of biological phenomena: Learning about the circulatory system. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Stanford University.