The Virtual Mystery Project (Phase 2): The Virtual Mystery Custom Web-Tool

The Virtual Mystery Project (Phase 2): The Virtual Mystery Custom Web-Tool 

  • Professor Sherry Fukuzawa, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Professor Andrew Petersen, Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Professor Brett Beston, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga  
  • Professor Vivienne Luk, Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Dr. Ivan Chow, Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga 
  • Professor Rosa Hong, Department of Language Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga 

Abstract

The Virtual Mystery (VM) project is an online hybridized problem-based learning (PBL) teaching tool that self-releases weekly clues with images to engage small student groups in collaborative active learning within large courses. A LEAF seed grant (2017) supported the successful implementation and evaluation of the VM project through the Learning Management Engine (LME) in Introduction to Biological Anthropology and Archaeology (N=800 students). When the VM project outgrew LME capabilities, a custom VM web-tool was developed to self-release weekly clues with images in an efficient user-friendly manner with an interface between facilitators and students within PBL groups. The VM web-tool generated interest in online problem-based learning from other disciplines across the Humanities (Language Studies), Sciences (Forensic Science) and Social Sciences (Psychology). This phase of the VM project will demonstrate the web-tool’s capacity as a user-friendly online hybridized problem-based learning application for any subject material. Four courses across these disciplines will create and implement virtual mysteries to evaluate the VM web-tool in their subject areas. Upon the successful completion of this phase, other institutions (universities, colleges, museums) have expressed an interest in the VM web-tool as a multi-disciplinary online open-educational resource for hybridized problem-based learning. The VM web-tool provides small group active learning experiences in a cost-effective user-friendly manner for self-directed independent learning.