Chemistry in the SMALLab. Credit: Ken Howie Photography>
In this post I'll go over two applications of embodied learning. First is SMALLab, a learning environment using motion-capture technology and large scale projections to track movements in space, and second is Science Choreography, a project through Wesleyan University and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange that combines art, science, and kinesthetic learning to teach science topics. But before getting into all of that, a look at what embodied learning actually means:
The SMALLab website defines embodied learning as "a field that blends the learning sciences and human computer interaction". Science Choreography deals more with the direct translation of a process or concept into movement. In this video, Liz Lerman describes, "when you embody a process you start to realize what you don't understand, and you begin to ask questions because you want to get the movements right." In embodied learning, physical movement is the medium through which we internalize knowledge.
A few learning theories relevant to embodied learning are embodied cognition, differentiated instruction, and social constructivism. Some quick-ish definitions before getting into the examples:
Embodied Cognition is the argument that all aspects of cognition are determined by the body. This includes higher level cognition like reasoning, judgement, and categorization.
Differentiated instruction refers to a teaching philosophy contrary to the "one size fits all" model that many schools go by today. Students are provided avenues for learning and assessment that are effective for all students, regardless of ability.