“Wonderwalls: Playful Peer to Peer to Expert Collaborative Learning Spaces” by Heeter, Lownds and Rhodes

  • ©Carrie Heeter, Norm Lownds, and Ben Rhodes

  • ©Carrie Heeter, Norm Lownds, and Ben Rhodes



    Wonderwalls: Playful Peer to Peer to Expert Collaborative Learning Spaces



    Wonderwalls connect learners, teachers, and visitors in real time and asynchronously to persistent, playful, moderated, spatial communication environments designed for collaborative learning. Participants compose or upload and position text or graphical “post-its” on the Wonderwall. Moderators can attach answers to posts and stream real time audio.

    The original Wonderwall was an 8 foot by 3 foot large blank paper with colored markers. Visitors to the 4H Children’s Garden were encouraged to write anything they wondered about throughout the day. The electronic Wonderwall began with the same concept, evolving through user experience testing and recognition of possibilities and technological affordances. Wonderwalls are specialized environments which facilitate affect (a sense of mystery, fun, excitement, and importance) and cognition (reflection and formulating questions).

    Wonderwalls are currently used extensively by elementary school classes to connect the class with “Dr. Norm” as they follow up on science field trips to the Children’s Garden. K-12 kids welcome dive into Wonderwalls with a sense of glee, crashing their lightning bolts into each other. They are excited to have scientists from afar “visit” their classroom When fourth graders voluntarily log in over the weekend to do more science, teachers smile.

    Wonderwalls are also used in graduate and undergraduate online and face to face classes. For example, a weekly participation assignment is for students to visit the Wonderwall to post things they wonder about from that week’s readings. Students are encouraged to post as themselves, respond to each other, and to whimsically yet plausibly impersonate the textbook authors.


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