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Ecolab is an Intelligent Learning Environment designed to help children learn about food chains and food webs. This area of Ecology forms part of the Key Stage 2 (9 - 11 years old) UK National Science Curriculum.

Ecolab provides children with a virtual ecology laboratory environment that can be viewed as a simulated world of animals and plants, as a food web, or as an energy histogram. It also provides an artificial collaborative learning partner that offers adaptive assistance based on a detailed learner model.


Ecolab was built as a research tool to investigate how the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) could be used to inform software design and has been the subject of several iterations of participatory design activity that have produced Ecolab II. The Ecolab II system builds a software-based model of the learner and scaffolds their interactions with timely interventions. This learner model represents the system’s interpretation of the learner’s understanding of a small curriculum of knowledge about food chains and webs, and the learner’s ability in two metacognitive processes: help seeking and task selection (see Luckin, 2010 for a full description of the Ecolab software). In the latest version Ecolab adapts feedback to suit learners of different goal orientations.

You can download the following versions of Ecolab:

  • Ecolab II Metacognitive Scaffolding
  • Ecolab II Goal Orientation

Subpages (1): Download Ecolab