CUNY Games Network Conference

Most of you are aware of the Transformative Games blog via the CUNY Games Network, so I will forgo a detailed description of that group. However, I’m excited to say that we have started planning for CUNY Fest, the first CUNY-wide games conference for learning. We are in the rudimentary planning stages, but the date is tentatively set for April 2013. We are looking to garner space in the CUNY Graduate Center, and we are seeking internal funding or support to provide for conference space, food, and stipends for keynote speakers. While the conference is designed to discuss issues related to game-based learning, there are plans to have a poster session and game demonstration that is open to faculty and students alike. I’m particularly excited about the possibility of getting students involved in game-based learning by designing and presenting their own research projects. A formal call for proposals will be issued if this plan comes to fruition.

York College Center for Interdisciplinary Health Practice

The York College Center for Interdisciplinary Health Practice (YCCIHP) was started by then Acting Dean of Health Sciences, Dana Fusco, and is currently under the leadership of Professor Joanne Lavin in Nursing. The committee is composed of faculty from Psychology, Education Technology, Nursing, the Physician’s Assistant Program, and the Occupational Therapy Program. The objective of the committee is to provide students in the health practices with opportunities for learning that would be too costly or risky to perform in the clinic. There is a vast literature supporting the efficacy and efficiency of simulations in education for the health practices. We have adopted Second Life as a platform to generate several life-like scenarios for students to explore. In these scenarios, students interact with each other and domain experts to solve a problem. In our first scenario, occupational therapy students explore the home of a patient with limited mobility. While the scenario was designed with occupational therapy students in mind, each scenario is flexible enough to be of value to other disciplines in the health sciences. A second scenario exposed students to the complications of working with an alcoholic patient suffering from delirium tremens. Scenarios in Second Life are presented in a social networking platform, which allows students to comment on the scenarios. Students and domain experts can also role-play various characters in real time to learn the lesson from different perspectives. Several conference abstracts and three formal studies of the learning environment have been published:

  1. Bai, X., Duncan, R.O., Horowitz, B., Glodstein, S., Graffeo, J., Lavin, J. (2012). The added value of 3D simulations in healthcare education. International Journal of Nursing Education. [IN PRESS]
  2. Bai, X., Lavin, J., Duncan, R.O. (2012). Are we there yet? Lessons learned through promoting 3D learning in higher education. The International Journal of Learning. 18(6):1-14.
  3. Bai, X., Horowitz, B., Duncan, R.O., Glodstein, S., Graffeo, J., Lavin, J. (2011) Designing Case Studies through 3D Simulations for the Health Professions. In T. Bastiaens & M. Ebner (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2011 (pp. 907-910). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  4. Horowitz, B., Bai, X., Duncan, R.O., Glodstein, S., Graffeo, J., Lavin, J. (2012). “Infusing Gerontology across Academic Disciplines through Virtual and Service Learning Pedagogies.” Association for Gerontology in Higher Education’s 38th Annual Meeting and Educational Leadership Conference.

Welcome to Transformative Games

This blog will document my experiences in developing games for education. I borrowed the title of the blog from Jessie Schell, who notes that the term “Serious Games,” while sober enough to attract the attention of academics and funding agencies, is actually an oxymoron. Games must be fun and engaging to be successful, even if their ultimate purpose is serious in nature. The idea behind Transformative Games is that game mechanics can be used to inform, teach, and shape behavior. Games are excellent learning management systems that are capable of both teaching and assessment. The realtime nature of games allows them to occasion “teachable moments” for “just-in-time learning.” Well designed games adjust task difficulty according to user performance, which facilitates sustained attention, engagement, and learning while minimizing boredom and frustration. Standard psychophysical staircase procedures can be utilized in games to   optimize engagement and put the user into a state of “flow,” where time seems to pass very quickly. Transformative Games strive to incorporate everything we know about psychology, neuroscience, education, and game design into the learning experience.

To help others who might be embarking on a similar journey, I’ll be describing the process of developing games for education as well as issues surrounding Transformative Games. During this summer, I will be working with several high school students, college undergraduates, and programmers to develop a number of games for college freshmen. We only have six weeks to develop working prototypes and present them at a local conference. Consequently, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of valuable lessons to pass along in the next month or so. I will also document my efforts to unify college professors interested in games at my primary institution, York College. And I am working with others at the CUNY Games Network to develop a CUNY-wide institution for games. Our first task is to develop a conference in April 2013. Finally, I’m also developing simulations in Second Life with the York College Center for Interdisciplinary Health Practice to provide students with tools to practice skills that would otherwise be too expensive or risky to perform in the clinical setting.

Expect major updates every week and sporadic posts along the way. I’ll develop major categories in the future in the event that you only want to follow one of the aforementioned pursuits.

Learning by design