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Learning Science Through Computer Games and Simulations
The committee explored alternative pathways for reaching scale. Pathways within the second model include the small commercial game or simulation publisher, the “nonprofit” publisher with foundation or government agency funding, and a decentralized approach that would support collaborative game development and distribution. A few small commercial publishers have successfully marketed educational games to parents and children. Parents could potentially constitute a large market for increased sales of games and simulations designed for science learning.
Conclusion:Parents of K-6 students concerned about their children’s educational progress could constitute a large and important initial market forincreased sales and use of science learning simulations and games. However,parents may have questions about the educational value of various simulations and games, and these questions could potentially be addressed throughthe creation of a respected, independent, third-party system to evaluate andcertify educational effectiveness.
The availability and quality of computer hardware and software systems greatly influence the extent to which individuals access and use simulations and games for science learning, in both formal and informal learning environments. Computer technology continues to change rapidly, requiring ongoing support for simulations and games.
Conclusion:Simulations and games for science learning require a sustainedapproach. Because a game or simulation needs to be updated and improvedon an ongoing basis, it is not enough to simply develop and launch a standalone game or simulation. An ongoing development, research, and supporteffort is required for dissemination at scale.
A large number of stakeholders—including commercial entertainment companies, academic researchers, state and local education officials, game developers, and teachers—play a role in the use of simulations and games for science learning. Bringing these stakeholders together in partnerships could help bring research and development of simulations to scale.
Conclusion:Partnerships that include industry developers, academicresearchers, designers, learning scientists, and educational practitionerscould play an important role in scaling up research and development ofgames and simulations.