Augmenting Learning with Handheld Gaming Technologies

Judy Perry, Eric Klopfer, Eric Rosenbaum

How can handheld computers change the way we think about learning, beyond the traditional classroom and school day? The MIT Teacher Education Program has been developing software for PDAs which leverages the strengths of PDAs to enable social/collaborative investigations while simultaneously encouraging development of critical 21st century skills. Join us as panelists discuss individual projects which include Augmented Reality (AR) games, POSIT, and Palmagotchi.

AR games are location-based simulations which use GPS to integrate real-world locations into role-playing simulations. Like AR games, POSIT (Public Opinion on Science using Information Technologies) games are location-based simulations which instead use WiFi-positioning to embed participants in role-playing scenarios shaped around controversial issues in science. In POSIT, which has been played in both formal and informal learning contexts, participants try to gather information and persuade other real-world participants and virtual characters to their point-of-view. Palmagotchi, based on the popular Tamagotchi virtual pets, is a participatory simulation which allows participants to care for virtual flowers and birds, while they learn about ecology, evolution and genetics. Palmagotchi can be played outside of class time, extending the possibilities of using games to foster learning beyond the traditional school day.

After providing an overview of each project, the panelists will then discuss and debate the relative strengths and challenges of using handhelds for educational purposes.

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