The Alfred P. West, Jr. Learning Lab is Wharton’s development center and experimental laboratory to explore new approaches to learning. The Learning Lab develops technology-enhanced learning materials—simulations, web-based exercises, interactive programs, and serious games— to investigate new paradigms for learning and instruction.
The products developed by the Learning Lab engage students in real-world exercises that challenge them to apply principles they’ve learned across multiple disciplines.
The Learning Lab draws on the creative expertise of faculty leaders and industry professionals to experiment with new methods of learning throughout the School’s degree and non-degree programs.
To collaborate with faculty to create engaging, scalable learning tools and provide excellent, professional service to enhance the student learning experience and further the use of technology in education.
More about the mission
Based on faculty feedback from initial pilot projects, a key goal emerged for the Learning Lab: to enhance the classroom experience, not replace it. Learning Lab applications typically seek to expand the depth of the educational experience. These products aim to teach students better by using technology to create situations that are difficult or impossible to experience in an instructional setting through any other means. The technology serves to strengthen student-faculty interaction, not replace it. Although not all the projects fit this model, these are characteristic of most Learning Lab initiatives.
Most Learning Lab projects would be categorized as simulations, although the term is fraught with ambiguity. Everything from multimedia cases with a simple branching structure to full emulations of complex control systems fall into the category of “simulation.” Other than the attempt to emulate real-world events or processes, these tools have little in common, and their pedagogical outcomes may be very different.
Many of the Learning Lab’s projects, however, share a number of characteristics that differentiate them from other technology-enhanced learning models. In general, Wharton Learning Lab simulations: have open-ended outcomes, don’t always present the object of the game as the object of the game, encompass more than meets the eye, teach by doing rather than by describing, and facilitate interaction and dialogue.