With the science field already relying on gamers to help them unlock some of the many puzzles of the universe, could video and computer games be the key to unlocking STEM for students?
According to Klopfer, the game to be developed under this grant will be designed as a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), a genre of online games in which many players’ avatars can interact and cooperate or compete directly in the same virtual world. “This genre of games is uniquely suited to teaching the nature of science inquiry,” he says, “because they provide collaborative, self-directed learning situations. Players take on the roles of scientists, engineers and mathematicians to explore and explain a robust virtual world.”
The game will be designed to align with the Common Core standards in mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards for high school students and will use innovative task-based assessment strategies embedded into the game, which provide unique opportunities for players to display mastery of the relevant topics and skills. This task-based assessment strategy will also provide teachers with targeted data that allows them to track the students’ progress and provide valuable just-in-time feedback.
But will this keep their attention, or will students be put off by the fact that their in-game performance is actually being potentially monitored by their calculus teacher? Will this “robust virtual world” be able to provide experiences that are comparable enough to real-world activities to be transferable? And what will the trash-talking sound like when it’s over who grabbed the last test tube, not the ammo?