Eric Klopfer


Eric Klopfer is the Director of the MIT Teacher Education Program, and the Scheller Career Development Professor of Science Education and Educational Technology at MIT. The Teacher Education Program prepares MIT undergraduates to become math and science teachers. Klopfer's research focuses on the development and use of computer games and simulations for building understanding of science and complex systems. His research explores simulations and games on desktop computers as well as handhelds. He currently runs the StarLogo project, a desktop platform that enables students and teachers to create computer simulations of complex systems. He is also the creator of StarLogo TNG, a new platform for helping kids create 3D simulations and games using a graphical programming language. On handhelds, Klopfer's work includes Participatory Simulations , which embed users inside of complex systems, and Augmented Reality simulations, which create a hybrid virtual/real space for exploring intricate scenarios in real time. He is the co-director of The Education Arcade, which is advancing the development and use of games in K-12 education. Klopfer's work combines the construction of new software tools with research and development of new pedagogical supports that support the use of these tools in the classroom. He is the co-author of the book, "Adventures in Modeling: Exploring Complex, Dynamic Systems with StarLogo," and is working on a new book on handheld games and learning from MIT Press.


On Location Learning - Assessing Success in Applied Science with Networked Augmented Realities

Many branches of applied science (such as medicine and environmental science) provide both motivating opportunities for student learning, and unique challenges in how they differ from the methodologies of pure science. In particular, these applied sciences have criteria for success that are defined by a complex combination of scientific and social considerations. That is, what defines the successful management of the health of an individual patient or the environment after a disaster is not as simple as "solving the problem", as the "answer" is often not knowable. Defining the criteria for success in these situations is a learned skill that is relevant to both scientists and citizens alike.

We have created a networked handheld Augmented Reality environment that combines the authentic role playing of outdoor Augmented Realities (see Squire) and the underlying models of Participatory Simulations (see Kafai). This game, known as Outbreak @ The Institute, is played across a university campus where players take on the roles of doctors, epidemiologists, medical technicians and public health experts to contain a virus Players can interact with virtual characters, employ virtual tests and medicines, and must work to identify the source and prevent the spread of this disease (which can spread between real and/or virtual characters according to underlying models).

In this presentation we will report on student learning with respect to how they learn to assess problems in applied science. Using data collected from three classes of high school biology students engaging in the Outbreak game, we investigate the complexity of factors and evidence (both social and scientific) involved in how students assessed their individual and group success, and how the lens of their individual roles influenced the those factors.

WORKSHOP: Augmented Reality Games

With the development and adaptation of new technologies, the possibilities for embodied learning within real environments continue to expand. The use of hand held computers, wireless Internet, and global positioning systems are allowing students to explore contexts, which provide for a wide range of meanings and insights. Educators are now able to break out of the classroom, taking advantage of the vitality that only the real world can provide.

This workshop will focus its attention on technology being developed for learning in the area of Augmented Reality Gaming. It will discuss the integration of mobile devices into areas of simulation for exploring social interactivity, context sensitivity, connectivity and individuality. Presenters will provide a platform for how the layering of reality with virtual content can enhance and concentrate our interaction with the real world, allowing for meaningful play.

Chat 'n' Frag: Augmented Reality Gaming Session

Augmented Reality games present exciting new opportunities for wedding digital data and simulated experiences with real world locations. This session features Eric Klopfer, lead designer and developer of MIT's augmented reality gaming engine and Matthew Slaats, a Madison-based artist who has been designing spatially-oriented installations via a variety of media, including AR games. In this chat and frag, participants will see a wide range of indoor and outdoor AR games, and talk with designers about the potentials and challenges of designing AR games. They will also have a chance to get hands on with free AR game design tools developed at MIT, and perhaps even design a game prototype for their own learning contexts.

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