Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 285-297

First online:

Using Palm Technology in Participatory Simulations of Complex Systems: A New Take on Ubiquitous and Accessible Mobile Computing

  • Eric KlopferAffiliated withTeacher Education Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Email author 
  • , Susan YoonAffiliated withTeacher Education Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • , Judy PerryAffiliated withTeacher Education Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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This paper reports on teachers’ perceptions of the educational affordances of a handheld application called Participatory Simulations. It presents evidence from five cases representing each of the populations who work with these computational tools. Evidence across multiple data sources yield similar results to previous research evaluations of handheld activities with respect to enhancing motivation, engagement and self-directed learning. Three additional themes are discussed that provide insight into understanding curricular applicability of Participatory Simulations that suggest a new take on ubiquitous and accessible mobile computing. These themes generally point to the multiple layers of social and cognitive flexibility intrinsic to their design: ease of adaptation to subject-matter content knowledge and curricular integration; facility in attending to teacher-individualized goals; and encouraging the adoption of learner-centered strategies.


simulations handhelds complex systems