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ASU’s ‘Infiniscope 2.0’ Helps Teachers Customize Lessons

Designed on a foundation of open source technology, the new platform allows educators to create their own lessons in earth and space science courses, as well as immersive AI-tutored activities and virtual field trips.

A child looking at a laptop superimposed over an image of the night sky.
(Arizona State University’s Infiniscope project)
Arizona State University’s Center for Education Through Exploration (ETX Center) has launched a new K-16 online digital learning portal that allows educators in earth and space science courses to create their own multimedia-driven activities and lessons, an announcement last week said.

According to a news release, the project, “Infiniscope 2.0,” was created by ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, and features immersive AI-tutored activities and virtual field trips to give students personalized learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses.

Ariel Anbar, a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the ETX Center, said the NASA-funded project includes tools for teachers to give personalized feedback, as well as additional insights from earth and science subject experts. He said much of the content centers on simulation activities that promote a “learning by doing” or “adaptive learning” approach to course lessons.

“We’re offering the opportunity for teachers to learn how to use that technology to create their own teaching and learning experiences. The idea is that you end up being able to give students a personalized pathway that works for them in these lessons,” he said. “As they’re trying to figure things out, they get nudges and hints that are tailored to what they’re doing or not doing right.

“In some cases, there are virtual field trips using multimedia and using 360-degree spherical images from websites that immerse the learner in particular environments like the surface of Mars, and things like that,” he later added.

According to the announcement, the portal builds upon the previous version of the Infiniscope program through the use of open source technology, which allows educators to easily build their own activities and keep control of what they create. The project partnership is facilitated and developed by education software companies Unicon and Argos Education, which hosts the open source technology stack.

“Argos Education is an end-to-end learning experience platform and courseware marketplace, one where educators and their collaborators can craft distinctive educational experiences and deliver them in ways that are a perfect fit for their learners,” Curtiss Barnes, co-founder and CEO of Argos Education, said in a public statement. “The Infiniscope educator community is a wonderful example of the kind of sharing and creativity we are fostering.”

Anbar said the platform invites instructors to collaborate and customize activities according to their courses and students’ needs in a way that’s unlike other digital learning platforms flooding today’s ed-tech market. He said Infiniscope 1.0 showed them there’s an “untapped demand” for tools that enable educators to create and customize their own STEM content according to their courses and students.

“When it comes to using technology in their teaching, they don’t just want to use the sort of great experiences modern platforms can provide. They want to create great experiences as well,” he said in a statement.

Anbar said the overall goal of Infiniscope 2.0 is for teachers to become creators rather than just consumers of existing content already on the market.

“We imagine a future where the tools for creating these adaptive learning experiences that bring personalized learning to students will be in the hands of teachers,” he said. “Teachers will create assignments for students using that kind of technology the way they create worksheets now.”

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the education software company Unicon. It has been updated with the correct spelling.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.