Games for Learning

Games for Learning InstituteWe think differently about games. Instead of disconnected experiences that are difficult to assess, we empower the educator to teach in new ways. Technological innovations drive our research toward building a new platform for education. Instrumentation of the digital and analog worlds of educators, students, administrations, and institutions enables new kinds of longitudinal studies. We engage with the community and advocate within Microsoft to transform the education experience.

Background

The way we think of games in learning needs to fundamentally change. Current ideas tend to focus on isolated silos, little experiments, "edutainment," and so on. For instance, someone may design a game that teaches mathematics by shooting down space invaders. There are many problems with this approach:

  • It's difficult to prove there is any kind of knowledge transfer.
  • It's a disconnected experience.
  • It produces thousands of games across many domains that are hard to maintain, expensive to produce, and difficult to connect.

We can do better. The goal is not to replace the educator, but to empower them to teach in new ways.

Gaming is an innovation that requires a platform in order to succeed. We seek to create platforms for assessment, for identity, and for the gameful interactions we want to encourage. This allows researchers, educational application developers, and publishers to focus on what they do best—to create really great interactions and compelling content.

We want to allow the instrumentation of the digital and the analog worlds of educators, students, administrations, and institutions in order to enable new kinds of longitudinal studies for education. Educational outcomes can be analyzed. We can: 

  • Instrument and collect large amounts of data.
  • Use software to search for patterns and correlations and present these to the researcher.
  • Allow for new kinds of understanding.

Technological innovation is also important. For example, the use of Kinect in education is currently unproven, and we wish to explore this area. Preliminary experiments are already being conducted in universities and public schools.

The Future

We have the potential to transform education. The resulting platform which enables these experiences will likely be a substrate that many people won't even know exists.  Efforts like the Unified Game Layer for Education are a step in this direction.