GDC and DML Panels: Gameful Layers for the Freshman Experience

I will be presenting at the Game Developers Conference and the Digital Media and Learning Conference in the first week of March, 2012. These presentations are a part of a panel series jointly organized by the University of Southern California, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Microsoft Research. The panels, entitled “Gameful Layers for the Freshman Experience”, discuss two very different approaches to using game systems to impact post-secondary education. More details below:

DML
9:00 AM March 2, 2012 Cyril Magnin Ballroom, Wyndham Parc 55 Hotel

The transition to college is a difficult experience for many young people, marked by rapid change as well as social, emotional and intellectual challenges. Additionally, today’s students may feel disconnected from traditional university classroom materials and structures, spending the majority of their out of class time interacting via text and web. This session will look at two very different experimental games which attempt to scaffold that freshman experience, allowing digital natives to bring their existing communication and media skills to bear on the building of college-level social groups and 21st century skills such as team-building, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, brainstorming, experimentation, etc.

The two case studies were both launched in Fall of 2011 and each team has worked to assess and evaluate the outcomes so far. Just Press Play, from the Rochester Institute of Technology, is funded by Microsoft Research, and is an achievement-based system that encourages students to think of the obstacles in their path as part of a narrative of their educational development. Reality Ends Here, from the University of Southern California, is an internally funded project from the School of Cinematic Arts. Structured as an alternate reality game, the experience introduces students to the culture and history of the school, encouraging them to become part of that tradition from day one. Designers and evaluators from each project will discuss learning goals, design strategies, assessment approaches, preliminary outcomes and next steps for these innovative digital learning environments. (DML 2012)

GDC
10:00 AM Tuesday March 6, 2012 Room 2004, West Hall, 2nd Fl, Moscone Convention Center

DESCRIPTION: A comparison of two experimental games that each attempt to scaffold the first year university experience. “Just Press Play,” from RIT, an achievement-based system that encourages students to think of the obstacles in their path as part of a narrative of their educational development. “Reality Ends Here,” from USC, is a DIY media-making ARG that introduces students to the culture and history of the cinema school, challenging them to become part of the school’s storied tradition. Designers and evaluators from each team discuss learning goals, design strategies, assessment approaches, preliminary outcomes and next steps for these innovative digital learning environments.

TAKEAWAY: Attendees will learn design strategies, assessment approaches for creating innovative digital learning environments. From-the-trenches reports of technologies of play interacting with established curriculum. Outcomes for these experiments that point the way to new and exciting design solutions for games in educational settings. (GDC 2012)

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