Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Games, Simulations, and MUVEs

Educational (or serious) games, simulations and multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) range from games that require simple, repetitive actions, such as Tetris, to complex digital worlds such as Second Life. Interactive 3D learning objects currently being developed at Fayetteville Technical Community College provide a tiered approach: simple demonstration, demonstration and narration, practice, and evaluation/self-assessment.

Games, simulations, MUVEs, or i3D learning objects designed for the educational community embed tasks or problems within a virtual context. Users can explore the environment and examine digital objects. In simulations, they can operate machines, perform experiments, and test hypotheses. With all this media, whether game, simulation, MUVE, or i3D learning object, a primary advantage is the interaction--the user participation. One additional advantage of the MUVE, is there is also a means to communicate with other users and online experts.

Chemsense provides software that simulates an environment in which students can explore chemical processes and see the effects of changes. Students also can collaborate on their work in this environment.


Froguts is subscription-based software that students can use to simulate dissecting several different animals, including frogs, fetal pigs, squids, and starfish.

Rabbits and Wolves

Shodor's mission is to advance science and math education through the use of computational science, modeling and technology. With the Rabbits and Wolves simulation developed by Shodor, students explore how nature keeps balance by varying the number of rabbits and wolves that live in a defined space. It includes directions and activities for students as well as background information for teachers.

River City Project

The River City Project, developed by Harvard under an National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, provides a virtual nineteenth century American town plagued by disease. Students work in teams to develop a hypothesis regarding the disease’s cause. They can interview citizens of River City, read relevant documents, visit the hospital, and review photographs. Research indicated that users showed greater improvement in their inquiry skills and a better understanding of the science content than did control students who used a paper-based curriculum. Unfortunately, support for the River City Research Project will end this summer (2009). It seems unlikely that River City will be available in the next school year.

Quest Atlantis (through Indiana University) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities (known as Quests), talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae. Over the last four years, more than 10,000 children on five continents have participated in the project. Research has demonstrated learning gains in science, language arts, and social studies.

The Education Arcade was established by leading scholars of digital games and education. Researchers at MIT explored key issues in the use of a wide variety of media in teaching and learning through the Games-to-Teach Project, a Microsoft-funded initiative with MIT Comparative Media Studies that ran between 2001 and 2003. The project resulted in a suite of conceptual frameworks designed to support learning across math, science, engineering, and humanities curricula. Working with top game designers from industry and with faculty across MIT's five schools, researchers produced 15 game concepts with supporting pedagogy that showed how advanced math, science and humanities content could be uniquely blended with state-of-the-art game play.
  • One of those projects was Revolution, a multiplayer role playing game where students experience history and the American Revolution by participating in a virtual community set in Williamsburg, VA on the eve of the American Revolution. Revolution is designed to be played in a 45-minute classroom session in a networked environment. Revolution is a modification (or "mod") of the game Neverwinter Nights Gold, and users will need to acquire that game and install it (Windows only) first. The game is offered as a free download.

1 comment:

  1. You are our news this week! The show will be aired Friday the 15th. Awesome blog btw!

    NWN Podcast



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