Examples of Situated Learning Genres

Interactive Case Scenario | Situated Documentary | Field Research

Interactive Case Scenario

Women's GI Differential Diagnosis Case Scenario

Case Scenario example image

"Although direct patient care is the gold standard for post-graduate medical education, learners can have variable experiences due to differences in the patients and clinical scenarios they encounter. They may also be exposed to a narrow range of diagnose and have limited continuity of care and suboptimal teaching and feedback due to time pressures of the clinical setting. Scenario-based electronic learning addresses many of the limitations of teaching through direct patient care." - Sumona Saha, MD, Assistant Professor, Gastroenterology, School of Medicine and Public Health.

Sumona Saha, MD and Erica Robinson, MD designed the Women’s GI Differential Diagnosis Case Scenario over the period of a year.

Using a web-based interactive case scenario, students take on the role of a new GI fellow at a large research hospital. The case involves meeting characters such as doctors and patients, ordering tests, and attempting diagnostics in a web-based online module with rich media.

Sumona warns: “As this was our first experience with scenario based e-Learning, and our first experience using Case Scenario / Critical Reader, the project was time-consuming. Nevertheless, we feel very confident that our time and efforts were well spent as not only have we received positive feedback when this work has been presented at national meetings, but our students and medical trainees have been very enthusiastic about the teaching they received by playing the simulation."

Advising future instructors who would like to make an interactive case scenario, Sumona saids: "We found that having a multidisciplinary team comprised of programmers, educational design experts, and content experts was ideal for creating a product. We recommend the assembly of such a team before embarking on a similar project."

To see the full Women’s GI Differential Diagnosis Case Scenario module, visit:

Mad City Mystery

Mad City Mistery example image

"I wanted to engage students in making arguments as a way to solve problems. Hopefully students as gamers playing Mad City Mystery can eventually argue like scientists." - Mingfong Jan - Doctoral candidate, Learning and Society, Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education

In an effort to help students learn scientific reasoning skills via dialogic arguments, Mad City Mystery was designed by Mingfong Jan over a period of 3-4 months under the guidance of Kurt Squire, Assistance Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, School of Education. Players used mobile devices with GPS to meet virtual characters and take virtual water samples from the lake and general area surrounding Memorial Union.

The experience was crafted in terms of a problem that needed to be solved (find the cause for a death), as well as an unfolding narrative (talking to one character leads to interviewing another). It was place-based in the sense that it related to real issues concerning pollution within the student’s actual community. "Designing the game was challenging because when we started, no one had really done anything like this. We needed to tackle game design and solve technological challenges at the same time. However, it was a tremendously rewarding experience when we saw how engaged the students were. Even students who did not like school liked the game and enjoyed the learning experience,” said Mingfong. Regarding advice for making this kinds of learning games, Mingfong pleads: “Start with a rapid prototype and learn from your mistakes!"

To watch a video about the Mad City Mystery project, visit:

To read the full article, visit:

Situated Documentary

Dow Day

Dow DAy example image

"Students often think of history as events that happened somewhere else. I wanted to spark their curiosity about the history of their own community. After playing Dow Day, it is not uncommon for students to say things like: 'Wow, I walk on Bascom Hill all the time and I never knew something like that happened here'. Part of what grabs them is they can relate to the people, issues, and places in the story. After playing Dow Day, many folks are eager to create their own documentaries and stories. This opens up some great opportunities for community-based learning." - Jim Matthews

Dow Day is a mobile, location-based documentary designed to allow future learners to experience a historic Madison protest that took place during the Vietnam War. It took Mathews a semester to design. He later used Dow Day as a tool for studying students’ historical thinking and perspective recognition skills. An iterative process of research, design, and media production was required to translate source materials, such as photos of protest fliers or interviews from newspapers, into an interactive experience where players take on the role of a news reporter and virtually interview protesters, UW-Madison administrators, and police. "It can be challenging to explore new technologies, concepts, and design processes all at the same time. When I work with people interested in designing their own situated documentaries or games, I usually suggest starting simple. Design something that does not require a lot of research or original fieldwork, so that you can focus on building your fluency with the tools. Also, find an issue or place that has lots of source materials, or a particularly rich story. In that regard, Dow Day practically wrote itself."

Learn more about Dow Day, visit:

To see a demo of Augmented Reality Enhances Learning (ARIS), visit:

Play Dow Day, download ARIS from the Apple Store at:

Field Research

Digital Graffiti Gallery

an example of digital graffiti: girl taking picture with a mobile device for data collection.

"Outside the classroom, group work is the norm rather than the exception and it is constituted in multiple fashions. Digital Graffiti Gallery is an example of a kind of group work that we don’t often make room for in classrooms - the serial partnership." - Chris Holden, Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico

One of Professor Holden’s students, Ivan Kenarov, created Digital Graffiti Gallery during a semester-long course using ARIS, an authoring tool to create mobile augmented reality gaming. Participants photographed graffiti at the University of New Mexico and loaded the pictures with their geospatial coordinates into a central data­base. "You build up a map of graf­fiti at the University of New Mexico,” Holden said. “It’s a way of cap­tur­ing some­thing that’s ephemeral and still keep­ it in place."

Regarding the course design that produced this activity, Holden comments: “The challenge of the course was to find something worth understanding about our city and to find a way to use mobile game design to make it visible and open to participation for others in a way that was hopefully interesting and fun. This is hard because it is a very open-ended goal without any obvious previous successes or past knowledge to build upon. The difficulty of achieving the goals of the project are worth the uncertainty. Even without a good game, students became closer to their community, developed technical skills, and were focused on a knowledge-building rather than knowledge-acquiring mode of operation. If possible, find ways to connect students to people in the community doing interesting work that might be capable of interpretation or expansion through this medium."

To read more about field research: visit the following links: