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The Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center: Learning Studies and Technology in Actual Classroom Settings
Bruce McLaren
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh


Watch video of Bruce McLaren's talk

The Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC) was created in October 2004, funded with a five-year grant from the US National Science Foundation, and is operated by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. It is one of three such centers in the United States, with the others at the University of Washington and Boston University.

Bruce McLaren said, "There's not enough rigorous, real-world, and generalizable results in learning science, and our way to address this is the LearnLab." Much research, he said, is either rigorous lab-based research, or takes place in real classrooms where many variables cannot be controlled. It is also either fine-grained or long-term but rarely both. A LearnLab is a real classroom with pre-existing technical infrastructure.  The PSLC has created seven such LearnLabs in the areas of algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry, Chinese, French, and English as a second language, at the high school and college levels.

The PSLC aims to do 75 to 100 studies in its first five years and eventually hopes to do 40 per year. It also includes a 'Data Shop' - which contains a database of learning interactions across the various LearnLabs, and tools for data mining and analysis. This mirrors the Kaleidoscope Shared Virtual Laboratory, and McLaren said separately that there could be some collaboration between the two; he is already collaborating with Kaleidoscope AIED SIG leader Andreas Harrer.

Dr. McLaren described enabling technologies within the PSLC, as well as several learning science projects.  McLaren also invited Kaleidoscope and other researchers to submit a proposal to the PSLC.  (Those interested should go here for details.)