Fall 2012 Symposium


The Educational Software Gold Rush: 
How Can the Learning Sciences Help?

By Dr. Bruce M. McLaren

Date : Monday November 26th, 2012
Time : 6:30 PM
Location: Roddy Hall, Room 149

Computer-based technologies for learning are becoming ubiquitous in our society and educational institutions. Young students are growing up with learning software, educational games, and Internet-based learning materials like Cognitive Tutors (, Study Island (, First in Math (, BrainPop (, and the Khan Academy ( Many schools supply hardware such as IPads to their students for the purpose of accessing online learning software. In the midst of this rush to use software for education, important scientific questions emerge: Where and what is the Learning Science underlying the technology and the hype? In this talk I will discuss how science is being used to provide a firm foundation for the "educational software gold rush." Disciplines such as computer science, cognitive science, educational psychology, and artificial intelligence are coming together to investigate how people learn, how people learn with technology, and, most importantly, how we can design educational software to provide the best possible learning environments for students. 

Dr. Bruce M. McLaren, a senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, U.S., and an adjunct principal researcher at Saarland University, Germany, is passionate about how technology can support education and has dedicated his work and research to projects that explore how students can learn with Internet-based educational software. He is particularly interested in intelligent tutoring systems and e-learning principles. Dr. McLaren's research with intelligent tutors, for instance, investigates how students learn when presented with erroneous and worked examples in conjunction with intelligent tutors. Dr. McLaren also has a keen interest in collaborative learning and technology for supporting and analyzing collaborative argumentation. For instance, Dr. McLaren has focused on developing educational technology using artificial intelligence techniques to help teachers moderate collaborative e-Discussions and online arguments. In addition to his research background, Dr. McLaren earlier worked for over 20 years in the commercial sector, applying research ideas to practical problems using Artificial Intelligence techniques. Dr. McLaren holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Intelligent Systems from the University of Pittsburgh, an M.S. in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and a B.S. in Computer Science (cum laude) from Millersville University, PA. He has over 100 publications spanning peer-reviewed journals, conferences, workshops, symposiums and book chapters.