Imagine a student enrolled in a biology course who has to learn about the topic of nutrition. In a traditional science classroom this student would start off by attending lectures and reading course materials to develop basic knowledge of the subject matter. Sometimes, and only after domain knowledge has been gained the student may be invited to perform a straightforward and well-described experiment. A written exam at the end of the course is used to demonstrate whether the student is able to recall and understands the material.
SCY takes a different approach by making the students’ hands-on experience the driving force behind the learning process. In SCY-Lab, the SCY learning environment, students start with an authentic research question (e.g., “how can we create a healthy pizza?") and perform creative and productive activities to answer that question. Students would create models, design nutrition schemes, experiment with pizza's, create a food pyramid etc. etc. Students could even be given the opportunity to collect data “in the field”, e.g., go to a supermarket and collect nutrition tables. These data are then entered into SCY-Lab for further analysis and reflection, and provide the basis for actually creating a healthy pizza. In this process students have access to and exchange their learning products (that are called Emerging Learning Objects (ELOs)) with other learners. Student assessment will take place on the basis of the ELOs gathered in a portfolio. Part of the learning process is also a process of peer assessment and social tagging.
In SCY, learning will take place from a personalized place in which learners find activities to undertake, tools, services, and resources that scaffold them in these activities as well as communication facilities to contact peers who are engaged in similar tasks. SCY-Lab offers students the support of automatic agents that adapt tools for the students and give students the opportunity to save their ELOs and retrieve ELOs from other students. This network of interacting components will provide an individualized learning experience of learners, who will at the same time also feel part of a learning community.