Thursday, September 29, 2011

Games for Change - what games have changed

One of the meetings that I hope to go to next year is the Games for Change summit. Apparently a high-profile event with potential for good energy. At the center is an organization with the same name that seeks to be a " advocate for supporting and making games for social impact." See for more info. Through their newsletter I saw this really nice summary of some great things that games have done for society. It includes high impact testimonials from classrooms, the developing world, and research. They also provide video of the best talks from this year's event by world renowned game designer Jesse Schell, Valve Software’s Gabe Newell, Sheryl WuDunn’s conversation with Laura Pincus Hartman from and Pierre Guillaume Wielezynski from the UN World Food Programme, and US Department of Education’s James Shelton.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Early visionaries

Source: The Oil Drum
Several times I have referred back to some of the early visionaries in the area of virtual globes and GeoGame-like simulations. Al Gore is frequently mentioned because of his "Digital Earth" speech and David Gelernter's "Mirror Worlds" vision from 1991 seemed to me as the most insightful and detailed account of what we currently see emerging. But as I was going through notes form a research meeting a few years back I found a note on "...a vision of a large globe hanging above campus to display earth info..." attributed to Fuller 1962. As I started looking around I found that Buckminster Fuller was indeed a man of big visionary ideas. Not only did he envision what now has been realized by Mitsubishi as the World's largest OLED globe, but he also had grand thoughts on how a "World Game" could enable a design revolution and provide a place where people would "Make the world work, for 100% of humanity, in the shortest possible time, through spontaneous cooperation, without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone". His book "Critical Path" sounds like a must-read and I am sure will provide great insights and ideas for our own work to develop GeoGames.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cyberlearning Research Summit CfP

As part of the Cyberlearning initiatives at NSF this event, The Cyberlearning Research Summit, January 18, 2012, promises to be a high-profile gathering in Washington DC, featuring top quality research-based speakers, who will share visions for the future of learning with emerging technologies, in style of the TED conferences. Deadline for presenter nominations and attendee applications is October 1. I am hopeful that our OSU team can attend and maybe present our ideas and plans.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cyberlearning with GeoGames

After many months of crossing fingers, holding thumbs (that's what we do in Sweden), and not counting the eggs until... We got NSF Cyberlearning support to develop and study learning with GeoGames! YAY! We will have two years to do exploratory, design-based research that develop our new Esri-technology platform into a learning tool and look at how learning happens within a GeoGames such as the 'Green revolution' scenario.

The broad goal will be to better understand the opportunities and obstacles presented by our GeoGames framework for role-play games/simulations. Under this portal we will look at some more specific questions about how people learn with integrated online GIS and gaming technology, such as:
  • what is a GeoGame? - key components and functionality that can help and guide others to develop similar technology
  • what does a GeoGame provide in terms of authentic experiences, student engagement, and higher-order thinking?
  • how does specific GeoGame affordances (access to rich geographic information, particular game mechanics, collaboration opportunities, etc) help/hinder learning?
Our fabulous team (me, Rajiv, Kathryn, and Andrew) will approach these questions using the pattern of design-based research (Barab & Squire, 2004) where we gathering data from users before, during, and after playing a game. By doing this repeatedly with each new version it will help both technical and content design improvements as well as to better understand how people learn using this technology.