NSF: Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies


The purpose of the Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies program is to integrate opportunities offered by emerging technologies with advances in what is known about how people learn to advance threeinterconnected thrusts:
– Innovation: inventing and improving next-generation genres (types) of learning technologies, identifying new means of using technology for fostering and assessing learning, and proposing new ways of integrating learning technologies with each other and into learning environments to foster and assess learning;
– Advancing understanding of how people learn in technology-rich learning environments: enhancing understanding of how people learn and how to better foster and assess learning, especially in technology-rich learning environments that offer new opportunities for learning and through data collection and computational modeling of learners and groups of learners that can be done only in such environments; and
– Promoting broad use and transferability of new genres: extracting lessons from experiences with these technologies that can inform design and use of new genres across disciplines, populations, and learning environments; advancing understanding of how to foster learning through effective use these new technologies and the environments they are integrated into.

The intention of this program is to advance technologies that specifically focus on the experiences of learners; innovations that simply focus on making teaching easier will not be funded. Proposals that focus on teachers or facilitators as learners are invited; the aim in these proposals should be to help teachers and facilitators learn to make the learning experiences of learners more effective.

Proposals are expected to address all three of the program’s thrusts. Of particular interest are technological advances that (1) foster deep understanding of content coordinated with masterful learning of practices and skills; (2) draw in and encourage learning among populations not served well by current educational practices; and/or (3) provide new ways of assessing understanding, engagement, and capabilities of learners. It is expected that research funded by this program will shed light on how technology can enable new forms of educational practice. This program does not support proposals that aim simply to implement and evaluate a particular software application or technology in support of a specific course.

Awards will be made in three research categories, each focusing on a different stage of research and development: Exploration (EXP), Design and Implementation (DIP), and Integration (INT). The program will also support small Capacity-Building Projects (CAP), e.g., conferences, workshops, and partnership-building activities, and will continue to participate in NSF’s Foundation-Wide programs: EAGER, RAPID, INSPIRE, and CAREER.

Purposes and prerequisites (if applicable) by project type:
1. Exploration (EXP)
– Purpose: to explore the feasibility of a technological innovation, to try out new ideas, especially risky ones, and to explore issues associated with learning in the context of the proposed innovation
– Prerequisites: team with a shared vision that takes into account what is known about how people learn, learning in the targeted domain, use of technology for such learning, and challenges to technology use
2. Development and Implementation (DIP)
– Purpose: to ascertain the potential of a new or emerging technological genre, develop guidelines for its use in support of assessment, learning, and/or engagement, and answer foundational research questions about learning.
– Prerequisites: same as EXP plus completed work equivalent to one or more Cyberlearning EXP projects
3. Integration (INT)
– Purpose: to coherently integrate several emerging and/or developed technologies that have already shown promise, incorporate promising technologies and technology-enabled practices into the lives of learners or organizations, or extend a promising innovation in ways that would allow it to be used by a larger population or variety of learners, and answer foundational research questions related to learning that can only be answered in the context of an integration such as that proposed; these are not scale-up projects or effectiveness studies.
– Prerequisites: same as DIP plus completed work equivalent to two or more Cyberlearning DIP projects
4. Capacity Building (CAP)
– Purpose: partnership or team building, expanding and strengthening the cyberlearning community, strengthening ties between cyberlearning communities, moving new ideas to the fore, enhancing capabilities and/or vision of the cyberlearning community; might include, e.g., conferences, workshops, or short courses