Jeremiah Dibley is the Director of pullUin Software-a blossoming educational software development company located in Vermillion, SD. He is a former middle school science teacher who agrees with the company's mission: to design educational software that is playful, yet engaging so that through structured play experiences, the learner learns more. Jeremiah's passion for teaching and learning alongside adolescents aligns well with his current research involving the development and use of video game technology as the centerpiece for middle school learning modules.
His bachelor's degrees in biology and education and master's degree in education provide him with a strong theoretical background in understanding the unique developmental needs of an adolescent and how they as learners construct understanding. Working for the past five years "in the trenches" as a teacher also gives him authentic, practical knowledge of the adolescent learner, which he applies to the instructional design tasks that mold the educational software his development team creates.
Jeremiah also participates on several other educational research projects at pullUin Software, one for which he received a 'National Science Foundation Research Experience for Teachers' grant to design and develop curricula that incorporate hand-held technologies into the science classroom. He has designed and developed several other professional development programs for teachers incorporating these technologies and continues to be encouraged by positive feedback from teachers, administrators, and educational media specialists from around the country.
Video Games in Science Class?
Media reports often present information about the potential harmful effects of video games, suggesting that because they are interactive, engaging, and require the player to role play an aggressor they nurture violent behavior. The designers and developers at PullUin Software look at the same attributes of video games-interactivity, engagement, and role play-and fuse them with educational content to develop video games that, rather than nurture violent behavior, are an effective tool for inquiry based science education.
Our students represent the first generation of learners to grow up with digital technology. Their digital world-cell phones, digital music, video games, computers, and the Internet-has shaped their learning styles and preferences. They prefer graphics over text and to interact with digital media rather than being passive recipients of information.
Educational video games are appropriate learning tools for today's learners. While playing video games, the player's level of attention, engagement, and concentration exceeds the same behaviors displayed in a classroom setting. Serious games provide a platform where students strive for mastery through exploration, active involvement, repetitive practice, and immediate feedback. The learner uses creative and critical thinking skills to construct knowledge and understanding. Educational video games engage and motivate students. Teaching with them has become the next frontier.
PullUin Software designs and produces serious games that immerse middle school students in content through exploration in a virtual world. While playing, students are able to view the outside world through the eyes of their creature as well as their internal world-the body's continuous feedback-as they encounter environments and objects throughout their journey.
During this interactive exhibit an overview of research and literature about video games for education will be presented followed by detailed information about the design and development of educational video games and teacher support materials. The workshop will specifically present PullUin Software's procedure for design and development of educational video games, based on Wiggins and McTighe's Understanding by Design (ASCD, 2001). This conceptual framework consists of a three stage curriculum design process guided by research from cognitive psychology. Also known as "backward design," this process begins with the identification of enduring understandings followed by assessments indicating evidence of learning, and culminates with the design of the game and curriculum materials. Information on inquiry based learning, most notably the 5E Learning Cycle (Bybee, 1997) will also be presented as the framework used to develop the actual lesson plans. As the name implies, the teacher facilitates five phases of learning (engage, explore, explain, extend, and evaluate) to assist students in constructing their knowledge. To stimulate discussion, participants will play the game and be invited to critique and offer feedback.
Video games in the classroom? Absolutely. While playing video games, learners take on a virtual identity in a world that is a metaphor for science concepts. The combination of gameplay, classroom activities, and discussions help students develop the background knowledge to understand science concepts. Video games are worth the risk.
Bybee, R. W. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2001). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.