Michael Hillinger


Michael Hillinger is a Senior Research Scientist at the Learning Technologies Research Institute at the National Center , Norwich University. Prior to Norwich he was founder and principal of Lexicon Systems. Dr. Hillinger has extensive background researching and developing innovative methods of using technology and instruction. Links to some of his work may be found here.


CO2FX: A case study in integrating instructional and game design.

Games are wonderful tools for learning and motivation. Yet before schools begin to seriously use games for instruction they need to be assured that the games have a sound pedagogical foundation, cover relevant topics in their curricula, and have some evidence of educational efficacy. Such restrictions do not have to lead to lifeless instructional materials. In this program, the goal was to create an environment that presented the complex issues in global climate change within a game that encouraged communication and cooperative learning. In CO2FX, students assume the role of policy, economic, or science advisor in 1960 Brazil. Working together on budgets and other factors they must guide development over the next 100 years to balance many different factors to reduce emissions of CO2.

While still a prototype, CO2FX represents a blend of pedagogical and game design. Learners must work with each other to find a common solution. The game helps them move away from a naïve view of the world to a better appreciation of complex systems. They come to appreciate the many interdependent factors that must be accounted for in making decisions. Within all of this, they remain engaged and motivated by seeing how their actions play out.

This session will use this project as a focal point for a discussion on the factors involved in creating such an environment. Michael Hillinger will highlight the key design decisions made during development. He will also point out areas that our formative evaluation highlighted as needing modification and discuss potential paths of change. Charles Kinzer will describe the summative evaluation of the prototype and present some of the data from his assessment.

There has been much discussion and debate on the relative importance of game design vs instructional design. The goal of this session is to demonstrate that this is a false dichotomy and that interesting and motivating games can be created with a strong pedagogical foundation.

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