Smart Sparrow and Arizona State University to Launch HabWorlds Beyond

Adaptive Online Science Course Uses Rich Content and Game-Like Simulations to Explore One Question: Are We Alone?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 22, 2014) - Today, Smart Sparrow, ( a platform that lets educators create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences, announced in collaboration with ASU Online ( the launch of HabWorlds Beyond, ( a new type of online course. HabWorlds Beyond teaches students about space exploration, climate science, and the search for life on other planets. Centered on one of the most profound questions in science -- does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? HabWorlds Beyond uses game-like simulations to expose students to the thought processes and practice of science in a fun and engaging way.

HabWorlds Beyond stems from Habitable Worlds -- ASU Online's successful adaptive course that was developed over three years of collaboration between education technology company Smart Sparrow, ASU Online, and Professor Ariel Anbar of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration ( Beginning in fall 2014, college professors from any university will be able to teach HabWorlds Beyond in their classrooms, using the Smart Sparrow platform.

"With all the problems facing our planet, we want people to understand the power and limitations of science," says Anbar. "Large lecture courses can describe scientific results but they can't teach how science really works. "We wanted to create a new way of teaching science to people who aren't necessarily science majors, so that they can be smarter voters and decision-makers about the future of our planet."

Anbar and course designer Dr. Lev Horodyskyj hypothesized that the right online course could do more than a large university lecture-lab course in giving students a taste of the scientific process. To that end, HabWorlds Beyond is not a collection of taped lectures, multiple choice questions and PowerPoints. Instead, it features game-like simulations, immersive virtual field trips, and a semester-long individualized quest, all integrated entirely into Smart Sparrow's Adaptive eLearning Platform. Students create and destroy stars, hunt for planets, search for signs of life, and travel around the world and back in time, to explore the limits of Earth's habitability. As of today, 1,500 ASU students have taken the course, and its popularity continues to grow.

"This collaboration with ASU has resulted in a one-of-a-kind learning experience that gives students the opportunity to learn science in a whole new way," said Dror Ben-Naim, CEO of Smart Sparrow. "HabWorlds Beyond will bring world class science education to classrooms around the world. Teachers will be able to use our platform to adapt the material specifically to the needs of their own classroom."

What sets HabWorlds Beyond apart from the current generation of online courses and MOOCs?

  • It emphasizes learning by doing by offering students gamified, simulative learning experiences.
  • It's adaptive and personal. Students get unique, adaptive feedback, and their learning pathways adapt as they continue to learn.
  • It gives faculty control. Faculty can create a continuous cycle of improvement for their course. They use a lesson-authoring tool to create and deploy content and real-time learning analytics to analyze how their students learn. They can then tailor their lessons to their students' specific needs.

"HabWorlds Beyond is the latest example of how ASU is continuing to harness technology and innovation in redefining higher education online," said Phil Regier, Dean of ASU Online and ASU Executive Vice Provost. "Working with education technology innovators such as Smart Sparrow showcases ASU's commitment to excellence through access and impact -- the values of the New American University."

About Smart Sparrow
Smart Sparrow is an adaptive eLearning platform that lets educators create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences. Smart Sparrow was founded in 2011 by Dr. Dror Ben-Naim who led a research group in the field of Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Smart Sparrow's mission is to empower teachers to make the world smarter. For more information please visit:

About Habitable Worlds and HabWorlds Beyond
Discover the science behind the search for life beyond Earth in Habitable Worlds. Experience science as an exploration of the unknown and not a dry accounting of observations and facts. Beautiful scientifically accurate simulations and informative lectures are woven together with a powerful adaptive eLearning platform. Habitable Worlds redefines online science education. For more information please visit:

HabWorlds Beyond is derived from the fully online class Habitable Worlds (SES 106/GLG 106) offered by ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration since 2011. Habitable Worlds teaches basic science to non-science majors.

About ASU Online
ASU offers over 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs entirely online, providing the opportunity to learn from the same great faculty, engage with the same rigorous academic content, benefit from the same services and resources, and earn the same diploma as students who attend on campus. For more information, please visit:

About ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration
Launched in July, 2006, SESE is a bold initiative to combine science and engineering research and education to achieve a better understanding of the universe and, especially, our home world. At present, the School unites earth and planetary scientists with astronomers, and has strong collaborative ties with several other academic units at ASU, especially the Fulton Schools of Engineering. While maintaining core strengths and developing new transdisciplinary links among the sciences, SESE will broaden the scope to include engineering faculty with research interests in the development and deployment of scientific instrumentation on Earth and in space.

Contact Information:

Media Contact:
Jenna Richard
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