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Learning episode 10:


Purpose and use of this learning episode: reflection, concept map and journal updates

On the myclasses portal where this learning episode was found there were links back to parts of the unit that may not be completed by students as responses to assessment tasks. The final week can be a great time to have the last of the genetic engineering tasks submitted, or performed - as a final chance for some students. 

The students are also invited to complete their Forum discussion posts and their final Journal entry, as these are marked, according to guidelines set through negotiation in learning episode one. The students are invited to complete a small Concept Map in this week, for 5% of their total 100% of the unit assessment. Finally, students are invited to evaluate the unit for formative and summative reports to improve the fate and predestination theme area content.

The following text with links was offered to the students, excluding images from the movies, due to copyright concerns. Citations for the texts are available in the Readings and Further Links and Resource List.

Image for learning episode ten of the brave new world theme area of the mySF ProjectIndex

Forum topics for discussion

Reflections on genetic engineering texts in SF
Comparing the texts with others
Completing the set tasks for the unit
Completing the Journal entries
Concept map task as a snapshot of learning
Full text of the final concept map task

Evaluation of the brave new world theme area

Resource list

Further readings and links


The points at the start of these notes are to be discussed in the Forum area. You are asked to jump to the Forum area, using the link here and making a comment in the appropriate Forum thread. Please remember, your participation in discussions is expected in this study, as part of your overall participation.




Forum topics for discussion:


With so many texts in SF warning against genetic engineering, what is your judgement? Should Australia continue to lead the world in some areas of animal genetic engineering? Should this lead extend to human genetic engineering?


To celebrate the end of the brave new world unit, describe in words the silliest genetically engineered creature you can. See if it can be even sillier but more innovative and interesting than anyone else.


Overall evaluation - what did you learn from this brave new world unit?



Reflections on genetic engineering texts in SF


This week is an opportunity for reflection on the use of genetic engineering in SF stories and texts. The last eight weeks have covered many ways in which SF texts use genetic engineering: as political commentaries; to discuss and resolve social problems; as depictions of alternative social systems; as discussions of religious ideas; to warn us about the dangers of scientist trying to gain God-like powers; or just as a device to shock and entertain.


The Forum property  is the place to reflect on the use of time in SF narratives in the fate and predestination theme area. The main texts are noted in the list of learning episodes to refresh your memory and you can jump back to that list by clicking here.




Comparing the texts studied with many others:


In the Forum area, look at the discussion starters at the top of this page and comment on these based on your work in the brave new world theme area and relate these also to the themes as discussed in our study, here.


There are many other texts that focus on the use of genetic engineering technologies. You might like to bring these into your discussion in this last learning episode. Just think, there are all those movies where the mad scientist creates a new monster, or the team of military scientists let the new killing animal loose by mistake. There are even awful new DVD texts you might like to discuss, such as Cemetry Gates (Knryim, 2006) that has a giant and ferocious Tasmanian Devil that has been genetically engineered. This creature eats very stupid college students but, be warned, it is a truly terrible movie. Other, equally silly movies warning about the dangers to society of genetic engineering and the Frankenstein Complex include Larva (2006) and Soldier (2006). If you want to use it or others like it to to talk about the schlock/horror aspects of genetic engineering in texts, then please go right ahead. At this stage we are looking for an overview of different uses of genetic engineering in texts. 


You are invited to include these other texts, and of course short stories and novels in your Forum area discussion in learning episode ten. This final reflection is very important and should bring together your ideas from studies in this and other theme areas of the mySF Project.




Completing the tasks and exercises:


This week is also used for completing any of the assessment tasks as set in the myclasses task area. Please check the descriptions of the assessment tasks and their due dates and submit your responses for each and every task. Please add a comment about the task as you submit it. This will assist your teacher in improving the fate and predestination theme area content and associated tasks.




Completing the Journal entries:


Please take time in this week to reflect on your learning in the Journal area. The reflection in your personal Journal area is an important means for your communication to your teachers, but also for you to rethink and restructure your own ideas about the use of genetic engineering as a device in SF.


The mySF Project uses a Computer-Supported Intentional Learning Environment (CSILE) and the Journal tool for individual and group reflection is vital for this. One of the  developers of CSILE, Carl Bereiter, says reflection can cause conceptual change, that is a "significant deepening and expanding of the conception" (Bereiter, 2002). The reflection in the Journal should be done over time, not straight after watching a DVD or discussing a text. The reflection should allow time to think, rather than needing to be finished under the pressure of oral discussion (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1996).


The educational benefits from spending some time in reflecting on how genetic engineering devices are used in SF is only one good reason for making a comment in the Journal area. Another good reason is that you are assessed on their use of the Journal, reflection tool in myclasses. Please check your assessment details about the reflection task, looking through guidelines for the task carefully.




Concept Map task:


Just as there is very good evidence to show that students deepen their understanding of SF through the reflection, there are also good reasons to finish the brave new world theme area with another concept map, using software like 'Inspiration' or 'Visio'.


In learning episode one students in the mySF Project were asked to create a snapshot concept map of their understanding of the particular theme area, in this case the use of genetic engineering in SF.


In learning episode ten this process is done again, based on prior discussion of all the texts studied over the weeks, and reflection on discussions and learning. The brave new world theme area uses what is called a modified Constructivist approach to this learning environment, and part of this way of working includes the creations of concept maps at regular intervals, as noted by academics Jonassen and Marra (1998), to see a sort of series of snapshots of student learning over time.


Please check your the full details of the task, below, to see what is required of the last concept map for the brave new world theme area. It should be submitted during one of the last days of the mySF Project, so start thinking about it and planning what you want to represent!


Again, please submit a comment about your making of the concept map as this will assist your teacher and others in improving the mySF Project.



Full text of the final concept map task:


This is the last task in the mySF unit, the brave new world theme area of the mySF Project.


This task is designed by academics Jonassen and Marra and it links to the first concept map you completed in learning episode one of the mySF unit.


The idea of this task is to see how your ideas about genetic engineering as used in Science Fiction (SF) may have changed during the ten learning episodes since you started the unit.


In this task you are asked to start the Inspiration or Visio 2003 program from the Start/Programs button and open a new concept map.


Select the main, central icon and put your full name in that central icon


Create another, linked icon with rapid fire and call it 'Genetic engineering in SF'


Create linked points and sub-points based on your own ideas of the role of genetic engineering in Science Fiction


You may, if you wish, make the idea nodes into icons using Insiprations shape menus


You may want to consider such things as:

  1. how genetic engineering in science fiction short stories comment on what it means to be human

  2. how genetic engineering can be used to represent religious ideas

  3. how genetic engineering may be used for political purposes, to offer an alternative political solution to society's problems

  4. how genetic engineering  can be used in fiction to criticise science itself

  5. how genetic engineering texts are used to warn current society about attempting to become too God-like

If you can remember them, please link the texts you studied and remembered to the various nodes.


Use the whole space, make spaghetti if you like, but please represent your current understandings of genetic engineering in SF. Make it complex and show all your ideas on the concept map. Experiment and discuss the task with your friends, if it helps.


This task is due at the end of the lesson but can be submitted online. The task is worth 5% of your total for the mySF unit, so take it seriously. It is designed as a detailed snapshot of your understanding of this topic at this time.


Your concept map will be used to improve the mySF unit for future students.


Please be careful with your spelling and expression.


Submit the Concept Map using the Submit button in myclasses.






mySF Project - Fate & Predestination theme area evaluation:


Finally, it is vital that the brave new world theme area be evaluated by students. This online information and assessment system can be improved rapidly and effectively if there are criticisms and feedback from students about the Project. Please take the Survey for the end of the ten learning episodes for the fate and predestination theme area.





Resource List:


Bereiter, C.  (2002). Education and Mind in the Knowledge Age. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.


Jonassen D.H. and Marra R.M., (1998). 'Concept Mapping and Other Formalisms as Mindtools for Representing Knowledge'. Retrieved 5 August, 2004 from


Knyrim, R. (Director). (2006).Cemetary Gates. Written by Pat Coburn and Brian O'Toole. Lions Gate Films.


Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1996). ‘Computer Support for Knowledge-Building Communities’. Retrieved 30 June, 2005 from





Further reading and links



Short story 'It' by Theodore Sturgeon


Short story 'The Dead Man' by Fritz Leiber


Short story 'The Furniture of Life's Ambitions' by Brian Stableford


Short story 'Blood Music' by Greg Bear

  Short story 'Soft blows' by David Rade


Brave new world theme area podcast 1a - an introduction to genetic engineering in SF


Brave new world theme area podcast 1b - an introduction to genetic engineering in SF

  Brave new world theme area podcast 2a - Blade Runner
  Brave new world theme area podcast 2b - The Island and concluding comments



Michael Sisley



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