Monday, October 05, 2009

Computer Games as Educational Tools

Part of my interview series, coming up this week!

Date: Thursday, October 8th, 2009
(Please note corrected time) 3pm Pacific / 6pm Eastern / 10pm GMT (next day) (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visit Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event.

The Learning Games Network is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, whose mission is to develop and facilitate the use of computer games as educational tools. Its flagship project, ISLE, is an online gaming platform in which users will enter a virtual world and engage in activities and games that will help teach a new language. The development of the Interactive Social Language Education (ISLE) platform is an effort to create an international community of learners of all ages to explore and acquire second language skills through a wide variety of digital media channels that both create an immersive electronic learning experience and complement local informal and formal instruction. This builds upon the initial work of another Hewlett Open Educational Resources project, the Open Language Learning Initiative, which is currently undergoing testing in Chinese middle schools.

A consortium of partners, which includes the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Learning Games Network, The SuperGroup, FableVision, and MIT Education Arcade, is creating the web-based ISLE gaming platform as well as a series of initial games and activities to support Spanish-speaking English Language Learners in U.S. middle and high schools. This development is being pursued as part of an open strategy, which enables multiple developers and organizations to build on top of the platform.

The ISLE platform provides an underlying information architecture that allows games and activities to use vocabulary coded with multiple variables in its Global Learning Object database. With these objects tied to language-specific learning goals, data captured during game play can be used to measure student performance and generate assessment reports. Depending on learners’ achievement and scoring, the system can either raise the bar and introduce more difficult words and phrases or remediate by re-populating the games with the learning objects to reinforce the basics.

Jeff Applegate is the Learning Games Network's Outreach Coordinator. Jeff comes from an eclectic background, with dual degrees in Government and Theatre from Cornell University, and experience as an actor, database developer, writer, editor, and teacher. He comes from a family of educators, and has woven the thread through much of his other work experience. The Learning Games Network has proven to be an exciting focus for integrating a number of those passions and interests toward the end of enhancing kids' ability and desire to learn.

Alex Chisholm (Executive Producer, ISLE Platform) is a media research and development consultant who creates transmedia entertainment and educational properties. in recent years, he has developed and managed several projects with NBC Universal, including iCue with NBC News, and the online games for NBC Olympics. He serves as the Software and Video Gaming Judge for the National Parenting Publication Awards (NAPPA). Over the past 10 years, Chisholm has collaborated on research, product, and program development with Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Sony Pictures Imageworks, LeapFrog, NBC Universal, Children's Hospital Boston, and the Hewlett and MacArthur Foundations. He holds a B.S. from Cornell University. Chisholm is the Executive Director and a founding member of the Learning Games Network.

Scot Osterweil (Principal Investigator and Creative Director) directs and leads the design on a number of MIT Education Arcade projects, including Labyrinth, Caduceus, and iCue. Before coming to MIT, Scot was the Senior Designer at TERC, where he designed Zoombinis Island Odyssey, winner of the 2003 Bologna New Media Prize, and the latest game in the Zoombinis line of products (Riverdeep/TLC). Scot is the creator of the Zoombinis, and with Chris Hancock he co-designed the multi-award winning Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, and its first sequel, Zoombinis Mountain Rescue. Scot is the also the designer of the TERCworks games Switchback, and Yoiks!, the latter also with Chris Hancock. Other software design work includes InspireData (Inspiration Software) and its predecessors Tabletop, and Tabletop Jr. Previously, Scot worked in television production and theater. He is a graduate of Yale College. Osterweil is the treasurer and a founding member of the Learning Games Network.
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