Presented By CyGames
Selene: a lunar construction game

Videogame Researcher to Present at AECT Symposium

Date Posted: Tue Feb 9 2010

A Center for Educational Technologies® researcher has had a paper accepted for presentation at the Third Biannual Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Research Symposium.

Dr. Debbie Denise Reese, senior educational researcher, will present CyGaMEs: A Full-service Instructional Design Model Harnessing Game-based Technologies for Learning and Assessment.The project, which started as NASA-funded research at the NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future, examines the effective design and assessment of educational videogames and ways they can present important science concepts.

The conference will be held July 20-23 in Bloomington, IN. Only about one in four submissions are accepted for presentation at the AECT symposium.

According to Reese's abstract for the presentation, "CyGaMEs harnesses the power of game-based technologies for enhanced learning and embedded assessment. CyGaMEs is a principled and formal approach to instructional game design and assessment through applied analogical reasoning, learning science, entertainment game, and instructional design theories. CyGaMEs makes learning more intuitive by creating game-based environments that are analogs of targeted learning domains. Players construct viable intuitions (prior knowledge). Experimental research using CyGaMEs' Selene, an instructional game targeting lunar geology, supports the approach."

CyGaMEs stands for Cyberlearning through Game-based, Metaphor Enhanced Learning Objects. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the project in September 2008 for two years at almost $1.2 million and then another $800,000-plus for two more years contingent on available funding. CyGaMEs features an approach to instructional videogame design in which players use metaphors—concepts they already understand—in order to play a game and learn new, more difficult concepts. The project also embeds assessment tools for researchers into the game itself.

The research began with funding from NASA in 2006 and resulted in the creation of the Selene videogame. In Selene players learn difficult geological concepts like accretion, differentiation, impact cratering, and volcanism by applying these science concepts to help players move toward the game's goal of building the Earth's moon. Players construct the moon, then pepper it with impact craters and flood it with lava to experience how our moon formed and changed over time. All through the game Selene tracks each player's behavior to measure learning and the player's response to the game environment.

The NSF grant includes funding for updates and improvements to the game. Second Avenue Software of Pittsford, NY, is handling that part of the project.